|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Harmonix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 9, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
All this hopping from one track to another takes a bit to get used to, but in the end it feels very satisfying and adds another level of complexity to the genre. If you are looking for a more traditional approach, you can go into the Extras tab at the main menu and select Warmup. This mode lets you play just a single instrument. While I'm glad this option was there, I didn't find it to be particularly compelling.
Disappointingly, online leaderboard support and ad hoc / infrastructure jam sessions between multiple players is not an option. I would have liked to have seen some multiplayer goodies, but the single-player offerings are good enough that I'm not too discouraged. Moreover, the ability to download new tunes via the Music Store is potentially a huge boost to the game. New song prices will range from .99¢ to $1.99. While .99¢ seems competitive, we can only hope the $1.99 price point will actually cover bundled track packs - we'll have to wait and see. Regardless of pricing, the ability to download more songs to your MemoryStick without having to switch out UMDs should provide players with convenience in addition to extended replayability.
Visually, Rock Band Unplugged is exactly what you'd expect from the Rock Band franchise. In fact, outside of a few more jaggies, they are almost identical to their console counterparts. Tipping the scales in RBU's favor is that of music fidelity. The songs played from the UMD sound as good as any other master MP3 you've ever downloaded. As with Guitar Hero On Tour, slapping on a pair of headphones will markedly enhance the experience, but, as well as Vicarious Visions has been able to compress the tracks in On Tour, Rock Band Unplugged's sound quality blows the competition out of the water. Furthermore, dividing the tracks into four constituent parts allowed the developers to accentuate specific instruments on the fly. This really enhances the experience by heightening the immersion. The only downside to the aural presentation is that I would have liked to have seen more unique songs and artists - bands like Weezer, Boston, Nirvana, and Tenacious D are all back again.
Though the game doesn't come with a Guitar Grip, being able to play as four different instruments and listening to ultra-crisp master tracks tends to make up for it. Though playing individual instruments may not be quite as challenging, the overall level of difficulty can be even more trying. Thankfully, for the rhythmically-challenged and casual players, four levels of difficulty mean you will be able to gradually improve your skill set and still jam on to great tunes. We're anxious to see what else EA, Harmonix, and MTV Games can bring to the PSP in the future, as Rock Band Unplugged is an excellent first outing for the franchise on the portable platform.
CCC Editor / News Director