Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rock Band Wii Review

Hey there again. I just finished up my Rock Band Wii Review which is up of course at the VFH main site. Checks it out.

If you're interested in the game, I would have to be honest with you and tell you that you should probably wait for Guitar Hero: World Tour, as it'll have more features, including online play and downloadable music.

Anyways, if music games are your thing, then keep a look out for my Guitar Hero: Aerosmith review, which will probably be up by the end of the week, Sunday. I'm looking forward to it.
UPDATE (3/22/10) VFH Classic is dead:

I got Rock Band for the Wii in the other day and have been playing it since. My college roommate and I purchased the Xbox 360 version when it came out, and because I’ve played that game, I am a little disappointed in the Wii version, however, I am super happy to have it back in my house and love the gameplay, guitar, and music.

Allllriiight; ready to rock. Unfortunately, all the background dancing and so forth is pre-rendered and already created, so you can't use your own character or anything. Also, it may be that I am just used to an HD tv, but the video is really grainy at times, and not smooth like the 360 or PS3 versions. Not that big of a deal though, as you will be focused on nailing those chords.

This review will be a little different, as I assume most of you guys already know everything there is to know about Rock Band, but I will go over a few things here and there later on. Firstly, the box looks the same as the other versions, and contains basically the same stuff. The first thing there is is the guitar. The guitar functions exactly the same as the other versions, except it is wireless. The package also comes with a USB dongle which has four USB slots for all of the instruments. The guitar has a receiver, so you need to plug that into the USB dongle, but aside from that, it is completely wireless. There is a battery slot on the back of the guitar, and unfortunately it requires a screw to open, so that can get annoying down the road. The drums are white as can be, as opposed to the other drum sets which are black. They look really nice and go perfectly with the Wii motif, but I have a feeling they may be like my Wii Balance Board and end up being hard to keep clean. The drum set is not wireless, and features the new, more silent pads and stronger spring in the foot pedal, which are both welcome features, as my roommate and I went through two drum pedals while we were together. I broke two guitars…just the whammy bar; it couldn’t handle my awesomeness. I hope that won’t be the case with this set. The microphone is a standard, high quality mic that is also wired. All the instruments also feature blue LEDs to indicate your player number, which are exactly like those on the Wii remotes. Obviously, if you want the full experience, you’ll have to go out and purchase another guitar, but this is true with any of the Rock Band versions, as they only come with one guitar.

I believe the Wii version is the same as the PS2 version, except it features a few bonus tracks. In comparison with the 360 and PS3 versions, the Wii version does not feature a World Tour mode, where you create a band and travel all over the place participating in a variety of venues and so forth, which was one of the better modes. The Wii version is also lacking character customization and online play, which includes downloadable content. This is a pretty hard blow, but it doesn’t take away from the overall fun you can have with the title.

The main single player mode, Solo Tour, plays like Guitar Hero, in that there are many tiers, each containing five or six songs. Once you complete all the songs in a tier, the next one opens up. There is also a tier for “bonus tracks” which is always available to play. You still have to create a new band for each instrument, so if you want to play guitar for awhile, you have to create a file, but then if you want to switch over to drums, you have to create a whole new file. I don’t find this to be as big a deal as I did with the other versions, because it was a huge hassle to have to create my character all over again.

There she is, the sleek white drum set. Essentially, the same as the others, but with the good, quieter drum pads and thicker, more durable foot pedal spring.

One of the multiplayer modes, Band Tour, plays the exact same as the single player, as you can create a band with your mates and complete the songs tier by tier until the end. This is indeed different from the absent World Tour mode, which allowed for a lot more freedom and offered more venues and song packs or concerts that you had to perform all at once. It is nice though that they at least gave you this co-op option to take on the game’s songs together as opposed to simply a quick play mode, which is also available. There are two other multiplayer modes, which are Tug of War and Score Duel. Tug of War has different gamers playing different sections of a song to see who is better at winning over the crowd, while Score Duel is your simple duel, with each player playing the same instrument in the same difficulty level with the winner being whoever has the highest score at the end.

Like I previously mentioned, you cannot customize and create your own character. You cannot even choose a character to play as. This is because, I guess you could say, the video that plays while you are rocking out is just that, a pre-recorded video. This is fairly disappointing, but in reality, isn’t that big of a deal. You buy these kinds of games to jam out, not worry about some on-screen avatar, although of course it would have been nice to have been given the option. Also, because you can’t customize anything, you don’t get any money or reward for completely a song with a high ranking. This is actually disappointing, as you lose a bit of incentive to do well, aside from personal glory and bragging rights.

Unfortunately, there is no online mode and you cannot download any new songs. However, the game does feature five songs that you could have downloaded in the aforementioned versions, so it is nice to get those bonus tracks. The game features 63 songs already though, which is a pretty big set list, and I have to say that out of all the music games I have played, this one features the best music library. There is a great assortment of stuff, and I just personally enjoy the songs more. Also, Harmonix is putting out Track Packs, which are standalone discs for the game to extend your music library. The first one will be coming out in a couple weeks and feature 20 songs for a price of $29.99, which isn’t too bad. The track pack is labeled as “Track Pack Volume 1” so you can easily assume that they will continue to put out new track packs as time goes on, which is definitely awesome. Who knows what kind of interesting music they could put out; maybe even some Nintendo music.

The madness, the joy. You got your lyrics on the top, with the guitars on either side and the drums in the middle. The thin, yellow/orange line under each player's notes and by their multiplier is their Energy Meter/"star power". You have your score on the right, with the current star rating. The cool thing about the star rating is that it shows you how you are doing while you are playing, as the stars have that white ring around them, which fills up as you play.

Now, if you are unfamiliar with the game in its entirety, let me explain a few of the features. It probably shouldn’t be done, but let me just use Guitar Hero as an example for most of the descriptions. For starters, the basic scrolling of notes down the screen is exactly like Guitar hero, as the colored notes flow down to a bar at the bottom, which is when you play those notes. The game also features the same mechanics with the guitar as you can do hammer-ons and pull-offs. The “star power” is called the Energy Meter and activating it is called going into Overdrive. The cool thing is that you can continue to collect more energy even as you are using it in Overdrive, which is a really nice change. Also, when playing with more people, you can use your energy at the same time to rack up even more points, so being on the same page as everyone else is important. It is also important to note keep note of the green meter on the left, as it shows how well you are doing. If a band mate is in the red and fails, you can save them by activating your Overdrive, which will bring them back, however, once they fail three times, it is over for them, and probably over for you as well. Even if you are doing well, once a band mate fails, your green meter will continually drop until either you save them or you fail, so you need to be leery about using your Energy up if you know your friend will need help.The drums have four pads with one foot pedal. The screen will only show the four pads, with the foot pedal being displayed as an orange line, which can appear either by itself or with other notes, so getting in a rhythm is HUGE with the drums. I have major problems with it, but my roomie is pretty awesome. The singer must keep the pitch of the song, as you are rated on that. The words obviously scroll along with the pitch meter, and at times, you can use your mic as a tambourine as you can tap it to the beat which is a nice way to keep the singer busy during non-lyrical portions.The game also features a practice mode as well as a tutorial if you are unfamiliar with the game’s aspects and how exactly everything works, which is good for those new instruments.

As a stand alone game, Rock Band Wii is amazing and is currently the best music game on the market, in my opinion, as it features two guitars, drums, and a microphone. This way, you can really have a good time with three friends just rocking out and having a party. It really is a lot of fun and a great party game. However, if you own both a Wii and either a PS3 or Xbox 360, then it is a no brainer with the version you should choose; either the PS3 or 360 one, which simply overtakes the Wii version in that it has more features and modes. Also, because Rock Band Wii is coming out a little later than the rest of the versions, it is kind of hard for me to recommend it, as the new Guitar Hero game, World Tour, is going to be releasing in a couple months, which will feature online modes, downloadable content, and more, even with the Wii version, and will feature both the drums and microphone along with of course the guitars. For this reason, it is possible that the new Guitar Hero game will be the better buy, but it’s a bit too early to say at this point in time, but because of it, you may just want to wait to make your decision.


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