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

At a relatively steep price tag of $170, the full bundle comes packed-in with the game, a USB mic, a four-pad drumkit, a single wireless guitar, and a USB hub to connect all the stuff together simultaneously. Buying a second guitar lets you add a fourth member to your virtual band on the bass. The Rock Band guitar is quite different from what Wii owners will be used with the Guitar Hero peripheral. Some will like it better; others will not. It's longer, lighter-weight, more realistic looking, and the strum bar is less "clicky," but the overall design feels a little flimsy. The note keys are set deeper into the neck and have more of a click when they're pressed. A second set of buttons, located higher on the fretboard, lets players solo by simply fingering the notes. This takes getting used-to, but it's a cool feature. The guitar is powered by three AA batteries. It works via a wireless unit that plugs into the Wii's USB port instead of fitting the Wii Remote into the peripheral itself.

Rock Band screenshot

The other two peripherals are extremely different, quite fun to play, and will likely appeal to many players looking for something different than the standard guitar/bass gameplay. The microphone looks realistic and is responsive to vocal pitch and phrasing. Aside from having a slick white look to match the Wii, the drumkit pads are slightly quieter than the original peripheral and are sturdy in their design. The kick pedal has a nice level of spring to it as well. Neither are wireless. The peripherals' lack of compatibility with the Guitar Hero games on the Wii is a major source of frustration, and it will likely be a deal breaker for gamers with limited funds to shell out on tons of plastic instrument controllers.

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Rock Band takes a minor hit graphically on the Wii, but it's still excellent to see the highly animated bands rendered in a slightly hazy, live rock-video visual style. The bands are made up of a pleasant mix of male and female rockers, depicted in a variety of fashionable styles falling more along the punk, alternative, indie, and grunge end of the hipster spectrum. Character movements are extremely realistic and perfectly in synch to the music and action playing out in your living room - right down to note fingerings and drum hits.

As exciting as it is to play Rock Band on Nintendo's console, a two other major components have been cut out of the Wii version completely. There's no online play or support for downloadable content - the latter being a hefty blow, considering tons of songs are available on the other consoles (now including entire albums). This will be remedied by a series of disc-based track pack expansions featuring some of the DLC Wii owners are unable to obtain the traditional way. The first volume comes out this month.

The intensity of playing with other musicians in a real rock group and performing live is a serious rush, and Rock Band emulates the same vibe with incredible precision. The Wii version is not perfect, but the game is easily as enjoyable and addictive as it is on other consoles. It's an awesome way for gamers to rock out in groups, short of starting their own cover band. The gameplay is tight, the song list is excellent, and it's tough to put down once you get sucked in.

By Nathan Meunier
CCC Staff Contributor

Fuzzy band visuals emulate the feel of being in a gritty rock club. Character movements are very realistic.
Some folks will find certain instruments tougher to play than others, but everything is quite solid and a lot of fun.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
An awesome track list of high quality originals and some good covers.

Play Value
Playing solo or as a group will keep your rocking for many hours to come. Going back and mastering each individual instrument on solo mode is a great way to extend the game.

Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Rock out your way! Players can beat on drums, sing along, groove as a bassist and shred riffs as guitarists (using a licensed replica of the legendary Fender® Stratocaster®) - either in single-player career mode leading a band, in multiplayer as part of the band, or against each other.
  • Unrivaled song library! Major record labels and leading music publishers have signed on to provide unrivaled access to master recordings and legendary rock artists - from punk, metal, and alternative to classic and southern rock of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, such as: Nirvana's "In Bloom", Metallica's "Enter Sandman", Queens of the Stone Age's "Go With The Flow", Foo Fighters' "Learn to Fly", The Hives' "Main Offender", Mountain's "Mississippi Queen", Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", The Strokes' "Reptilia", The Ramones' "Rockaway Beach", Weezer's "Say It Ain't So", David Bowie's "Suffragette City", Rush's "Tom Sawyer", Stone Temple Pilots' "Vasoline", Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive", The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" - AND MORE!
  • Includes 5 Bonus Tracks! The massive song list grows even larger, with 5 additional songs for the Wii.
  • Wii-styled Drum Set! An entirely new look for Rock Band comes to the Wii in the form of white drums.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Rock Band screenshot - click to enlarge Rock Band screenshot - click to enlarge Rock Band screenshot - click to enlarge Rock Band screenshot - click to enlarge Rock Band screenshot - click to enlarge Rock Band screenshot - click to enlarge

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