Plugged In

Review: ‘Rock Band’

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If you’re unsure whether “Rock Band”, the next big thing in music games, is for you, ask yourself these three questions:

Do you enjoy playing “Guitar Hero”?

Do you have friends?

Do you know all the lyrics to “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Roxanne” and “Dani California”?

If you answered yes to any of the above, “Rock Band” is probably for you.

“Rock Band” is the latest musical gaming masterpiece from the renowned developers at Harmonix, who are best known for giving birth to the “Guitar Hero” franchise. And as expected, there are plenty of similarities between the two titles, the most obvious being the visual style and the “falling note” gameplay mechanic. That is a good thing.

While “Guitar Hero” focused solely on playing guitar, though, “Rock Band” lets gamers experience the rock star life as a either a guitarist, drummer or singer. Heck, you can even take on two disciplines at once, like drums and vocals, if you want to channel your inner Phil Collins.

“Rock Band” is plenty of fun when playing alone, but what lifts it above its “Guitar Hero” cousin is multiplayer. Up to four people can play together at the same time, with each on a different instrument — lead guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Each player can also set their own difficulty level, which is a big plus when playing with less experienced gamers.

And if you and your friends can’t get together in the same room, you can hook up online and rock out from the privacy of your own home. (Currently, the only way to get unique “Rock Band” instruments is by purchasing the $169.99 bundle, but stand-alone peripherals are on the way soon.)

Go ahead and give “Rock Band” the edge over “GHIII” when it comes to song selection, as well. From The Police to the Pixies, from Metallica to Molly Hatchet, from Bon Jovi to David Bowie, “Rock Band” offers something for practically every musical taste. And there continues to be a steady stream of downloadable songs released, featuring artists like Oasis, The Clash and Queen. That new content should keep gamers rocking out for months to come.

Simply put, “Rock Band” is one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games ever released. Don’t miss it.

Rating: 9.0/10
Publisher: MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix
Sugg. retail price: $169.99 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360; includes game, guitar, drums and mic)
Rating: T for teen