Rock Band Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii
Rock Band box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Harmonix 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Electronic Arts/ MTV Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: June. 22, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

It's been a long and laborious wait for Wii owners itching to get their hands on some Rock Band action of their own. The hit music game and its living room-choking array of peripherals hit the PS3 and Xbox 360 full-force almost eight months ago, proving to be a heavy contender in the escalating rhythm game slugfest. Previously resigned to bugging friends to rock out on their higher-powered consoles, Nintendo purists now have the opportunity to buy instrument-like heaps of plastic to yell into, strum, and bang on with their TV set cranked to the max. The bane of parents, landlords, and neighbors alike - Rock Band may be tardy to the party on the Wii, and missing some of the higher-end features of the other console editions, but it's still one hell of a good time.

Rock Band screenshot

The Guitar Hero franchise may currently dominate the rock gaming market in terms of sheer shred-factor and a superior challenge in the solo experience, but Rock Band brings a completely different dynamic into the mix. When rocking out with a living room full of friends at your side wielding various plastic instruments, the game has the power to instill a sense of camaraderie in the group. For some, this might be the closest they'll get to the experience of playing in a band. The best part is you don't have to be a musician to pick it up and dive headfirst into the rock and roll mayhem.

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When it comes to the gameplay itself, Rock Band on the Wii is mostly unchanged from the other console versions. Depending on your choice of instrument, you'll blast through songs while hitting notes in time to the music as they move down a runway towards you. For guitar and bass, players will hit the colored notes on the fretboard while strumming. Drummers must contend with a slightly different visual setup to account for the four pads and kick pedal, and vocalists will follow karaoke-like lyrics scrolling across a box on the screen while watching a small meter to track their pitch. It's a blast to play through the main game either as a vocalist, a guitarist, a bassist, or a drummer, since each peripheral has its own unique style of play. The order of the track list when playing solo changes based-on what instrument you're playing, since certain songs have different levels of challenge between the different parts in terms of the instrumentation.

Rock Band screenshot

The game does flow differently on the Wii. Instead of creating your own custom characters and launching on the unique world tour gameplay mode like in the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions, you'll simply name your band and play through various tiers of songs. This setup is far more like the Guitar Hero franchise than the other versions of Rock Band. It's not a big problem, since it doesn't hurt the gameplay itself. However, its one of several reasons why players with multiple current-gen consoles in their house will likely go with Rock Band on the Xbox 360 or PS3 instead of the Wii version. For those without a choice, it's a no-brainer.

Each of the 63 songs in the game is custom-picked to provide a well-rounded play experience for a full band. There are some guitar heavy tracks, but most feature interesting parts for all of the different players. They may not be as difficult to play technically for certain instruments, but the list is packed with tons of popular tunes from some excellent bands that are simply an awesome fit for group gameplay. Bon Jovi, Nirvana, Rush, The Police, Soundgarden, The Ramones, Garbage, Radiohead, The Who, David Bowie, R.E.M., and many more deliver the goods.

When comparing the level of challenge in the guitar aspect of the game, Rock Band is simply nowhere near as difficult as Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock - even on expert. That doesn't mean it's any less fun, but it's something anyone buying it after spending ample time with the other major music game franchise Guitar Hero titles should understand - this is true across all console versions. The drums are the toughest to master and ultimately the most rewarding instrument to play. They're a completely different way to enjoy the rhythm gameplay genre, and actual drummers will find the kit offers quite a realistic experience. The vocal parts can be tricky for folks who are unfamiliar with the songs or shy about belting tunes out. However, karaoke fans will feel right at home. Individually, each instrument is fun to play in solo modes, but the real magic of Rock Band comes to the forefront when playing in a group setting.

Rock Band screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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