The band rhythm genre was one of the shortest-lived I have ever seen. Starting with Guitar Hero and quickly being killed off with games like Rock Band 3, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, and DJ Hero 2. There were a ton of them, but because of the constant yearly releases the public got sick of these quickly and now the genre is pretty much dead. Harmonix decided to go back to its roots and release another controller-based rhythm game like Amplitude for PS2. Before you insult the game, read on.
Blitz is just as addictive as the other games in the series but in a different way. You play all the instruments at the same time, but this is a very important thing that you need to remember: This game is about scores and not hitting every note. You only use two buttons on the controller to hit each note on the left and right sides of the track. You play like you normally would in a Rock Band game, but just with two notes. Don’t sit there thinking this is easy. The game can get downright hard, mainly because you have to constantly keep your score multiplier up. As you play along you will pass gates that will turn the multiplier wheel. It will stop at the lowest set number. Make sure you switch between tracks and get those multipliers upon each one! If you play close to perfect you can raise each track by four with plenty of room left before the gate.
This sounds hard and stupid, but the game is so much fun! It also helps that you can use power-ups that you unlock by raising your cred. Using the power-ups costs coins that are earned based on your score. There are a lot of fun power-ups such as a rocket that will shoot ahead and destroy some notes. Certain instruments can have double points, bombs, flames that spread around and increase your score, 2x multiplier, and the list goes on. You will find yourself trying out different power-ups and using your favorites. I also love how you can use your entire Rock Band library. You can also download any Rock Band song from the store and it will work with this game! This, of course, increases replayability quite a bit.
Blitz incorporates Facebook integration for co-op play and most multiplayer stuff. This is both good and bad. Good for people who use Facebook, but bad for people who don’t or who are paranoid about their internet security. I didn’t have a problem with this, but I know some people will. One issue I did find annoying is that there is only one stage the game plays through. Sure it changes a bit as you go along, but I would have liked to have seen more. Other than that there really isn’t much wrong with this game.
In the end, this game is by taste. Some people may think just hitting two buttons is stupid, but if you sit down and play for a while you will realize how ridiculously addictive this game can be. The game keeps your adrenaline up by constantly having to switch between tracks and keeping your multiplier up. If you are a huge Rock Band fan then give this a whirl, but due to the small list of songs the game comes with, newcomers will find the game less appealing. You should really only play this if you have a large Rock Band library.
There are hundreds of thousands of games out there, but only a few hundred are considered masterpieces or classics. These are my personal top ten. I know it’s to everyone’s taste, but you can’t deny that these games are great. I have played hundreds in my 20 years of gaming, I have played through three generations of consoles, so at least I can speak on experience. I will try to be non-biased and even address some flaws in the games I pick because I have no problem with that. Flaws are flaws, and not a single game is perfect. There are more that are my favorite, but I would have to make a top 50 list.
This was one of the first games I had ever played at 2 years old. It helped introduce me to the gaming world and I just fell in love with the fast speed and intense gameplay. StH2 had some of the best level designs out of any game in the series and one of the best soundtracks to date. I remember never being able to actually beat the game because it was too long and too hard. I could never get past the factory level with all the grey orbs floating around Robotnik. I had to beat it many years later using an emulator and quick saves, but I still enjoyed it every time I played the game. I think I actually ruined my cartridge from taking it in and out of the Genesis so many times.
In fact, I even remember my first Genesis for Christmas of 1992. The copy of StH2 it came with kept freezing up in the system, so my mom took it back to Circuit City to exchange it. I remember throwing a tantrum because no matter how many times I blew the cartridge it kept freezing after pressing Start. The series has fallen off the deep end in the past ten years, but nothing can ruin the memories of this classic gem.
9. Gran Turismo
This game changed everything for me when it came to cars. My very first racing simulator actually made me think about every turn and what car I had to choose. I always played arcade racers before because consoles didn’t really have the power yet for realistic physics and graphics. I actually learned some things from this game like how to recognize cars on the street, and basic ways on how cars operate. I was sitting in front of my TV at 8 years old tuning my car and adjusting things like camber angle, toe angle, stabilizers, sway bars and gear ratios like a champ. I then followed the series all the way to Gran Turismo 5 today and have witnessed one of the greatest evolutions in gaming history.
I remember the skepticism from PC gamers because of the greatness and expectations from System Shock 2. I didn’t have a PC capable of playing any major games throughout my early gaming years. My computer didn’t even run Flash very well, so I solely relied on consoles. BioShock’s narrative and atmosphere made a huge impact on me and the gaming industry as a whole. The first time seeing a Big Daddy and Little Sister was just shocking. You felt trapped in this underwater utopia, but you were also memorized by how it could have been accomplished in such an early time period. The game just worked so well and felt different from the standard military shooters at the time. BioShock 2 was too similar to the first game and just didn’t make the same impact.
The second game was so much better than the first because it created a whole new world and a much more likable character Ezio is one of gaming’s most familiar faces and the game itself was revolutionary for its time. A huge open world in a historically accurate Rome, Italy was just unheard of. There was so much attention to detail that you had to sit back and just take it all in. The characters were likable, and the story was memorable with a deep and tangled political plot. The game was also violent with a fighting system never before seen in an action/adventure game. This game was almost perfect in so many ways that the rest of the games have yet to capture.
6. Syphon Filter
Syphon Filter was criticized a lot for ripping off Metal Gear Solid plot-wise. The game had unique characters, a memorable plot, and some of the best-level designs ever seen for its time. The stealth was perfectly executed and had some memorable moments. I have played this game numerous times and was actually my first-ever third-person shooter. I remember how confusing the game was because I didn’t understand how shooters worked. I was so used to platformers, adventure games, and puzzle games. After playing this game I felt like I was part of the grown-up crowd. The other two games on the PS1 were just as good but not as memorable as the first game. This has grown to be one of my favorite games of all time just due to the wonderful memories I have had.
I used to beat the game once a week using the one-shot-kill code then again without it. I memorized every enemy, and how to get every kill without being seen in stealth missions. I even went as far as replaying certain dialog scenes because they were just that cool. Syphon Filter is a mostly underappreciated game because of the lack of releases the series has seen. The last game came out three years ago on the PSP, but thankfully Syphon Filter 4 was announced for PS3.
5. God of War
God of War changed my way of thinking about action/adventure games. I remember driving to K-Mart to buy my copy after reading reviews and hearing the game blow up on forums. I didn’t really expect much other than Greek mythology-themed Devil May Cry. I was dead wrong. The game had one of the most thrilling and epic combat systems ever created. I never really even knew what quick time events were until God of War made them cool and did them right. It added a whole new layer of depth and connection to the combat that has never really been done before. The huge boss fights, gorgeous (at the time) visuals, and unabashed nudity and sexuality that few games dare tread. God of War still impresses to this day and with each iteration in the now 5 game series. Kratos is also one of the most memorable and recognizable characters to date. Make sure to pick up God of War Collection and God of War Origins Collection if you missed out on those four awesome games while waiting for God of War: Ascension.
Gears of War changed my mind on shooters the way God of War did for action games. The gameplay was just so different from your standard shooter. It was heavy-hitting, atmospheric, and featured some of the most memorable characters and stories to date. For a futuristic military shooter that’s a huge achievement. The weapons were memorable, it was perfectly balanced, and everything had a dark crunchy hit to it. The game was nearly perfect, and the graphics were out of this world at the time. I remember this being the first next-generation game I ever played when I got my first Xbox 360 for Christmas of 2006. Each of the three games in the series is amazing, but nothing compares to when I first played the first game. It wowed me like no other, and Gears of War is one of the few games I have played multiple times.
Sure this series along with Rock Band single-handedly killed the band instrument rhythm genre, but nothing compares to the first Guitar Hero. This game is the reason why I currently own and play the guitar today. Pulling off complicated riffs, solos, and chords with the then high-tech guitar controller was like magic. I spent dozen upon dozens of hours replaying songs and getting high scores. Sure it cost a lot, but it was well worth it to me. While the songs weren’t originals they were masterfully re-created and the guitar controller responded perfectly. The games later in the series lost sight of the value of mastering songs and just start pumping them out uncontrollably after GH3. This game redefined the rhythm genre and took the entire world by storm. Most people nowadays never played the first game, and they were missing out on a lot.
This was the first game I spent over 100 hours on. The world was so rich and fantastic that I felt like I was playing in one of my favorite fantasy novels. The lore, characters, quests, and loot were just so addictive and engrossing I couldn’t put it down. I remember one play session going on for 12 hours when no other game has kept me in front of the TV for that long. The expansion pack was even more amazing, and the graphics blew me away. Of course, there were a lot of technical problems, and the PC version was better, but I sure had a ton of fun with this game. Skyrimis just as good, but it didn’t wow me like Oblivion did because this was my first Elder Scrolls game. To be honest I picked this up for $60 expecting not to like it much and I was dead wrong. Anyone who has just played Skyrim needs to go back and play this. It revolutionized the action RPG genre in my eyes and a lot of games have tried to copy it to this day.
Yes, I am talking about the 1992 Sega Genesis/Arcade classic. This is my favorite video game series of all time and this is because it was the first video game I ever played. I remember my cousin babysitting me and seeing him control these characters on-screen at 2 years old. I remember seeing him pull off Scorpion’s mask and burn a character. It was something I saw before, and soon enough I was mastering the controls and beating him at 2 years old. I never knew how to pull off a fatality until years later when the internet became more mainstream, but I loved beating this game constantly. To date, I own almost every game in the series on several different platforms and have pre-ordered every recent game since 2004’s Deception. I don’t think I have played a game more than Mortal Kombat, but I still enjoy Japanese fighters. I find Mortal Kombat more accessible with more interesting characters and a story because they aren’t cliché and generic like most Japanese fighters tend to feel. There’s a whole giant story behind each and every character and they are all unique.
Continuing the second and last part of Games That Would Have Gotten A 10. These games are in no particular order, and I highly suggest for anyone who hasn’t played them to do so because you are missing pieces of gaming history.
The first time I saw a necromorph I nearly crapped my pants. I had never played such a scary or visceral and atmospheric game (horror-wise) since the first Silent Hill. Just feeling the dread that something might pop out any minute or watching the few people who had survived kill themselves or listen to their mindless mumbling made you feel uneasy. The game was cinematic, had great controls, graphics, and the weapons were engineering tools that made the gameplay very different. The de-limbing system was revolutionary and helped the game stay away from traditional shooting gallery problems. When I finished Dead Space it was one of the few that I played through more than once and still got a kick out of the entire experience.
I was used to Guitar Hero for years, but nothing prepared me for the show-stopping gameplay that Rock Band brought to the table. It changed the rhythm genre with the addition of the drum set and quickly became my favorite instrument. The game had deeper customization, a more streamlined multiplayer, and even featured a ton of great songs on the disc and had hundreds of DLC. I forgot about Guitar Hero for the longest time and was addicted to this bad boy. Even at the steep price range at the time it offered a unique experience that no other music rhythm game could offer.
While the second game was great the first game introduced us to the beginning of choice-based dialog that really made a difference. Mixing shooter elements with RPG was something that no one thought could be done right and BioWare nailed it. The memorable characters, amazing visuals, and the vast amount of lore and content put it at the top and helped pave the way for choice-based games. I played through this game three times and found new things each time. The excellent voice acting and facial animations were out of this world and remain a classic in my library.
Okami was a game that came out of the left-field with stunning visuals, and one of the most unusual game mechanics of all time: the Celestial Brush. It was so cool using the brush and making things reappear, using it in combat, and solving puzzles, plus the vast open-world helped push the boundaries of the aging PS2. The memorable characters, charming story, and devotion to ancient Japanese lore were mesmerizing as well as fun to watch. Okami was a one-of-a-kind experience that you couldn’t get on any other console and should be played by any fan of games.
I remember playing Guitar Hero for the first time on PS2 and being amazed at how accurate it felt to play the guitar. Rocking out to classics like Cowboys from Hell, Godzilla, Ziggy Stardust, and other classic rock songs was like a dream come true. Guitar Hero got me to play the real guitar and actually move on. The feeling of beating your high score on Expert and finally getting through Bark at the Moon on Expert was pulse-pounding and so satisfying. Walking away from that song shaking with my heart pounding was how any game, in general, should make you feel.
Then Guitar Hero II came along at a reasonable time, and I knew it was time to start a new with a whole new set of songs. GH2 proved to be better with more awesome songs and a longer tracklist, plus the addition of DLC when it came to Xbox 360 so what could go wrong? Nothing at that point with Freebird being the end song and proving 10 times more difficult than Bark at the Moon I would need a-whole-nother six months to master this beast. But by the time I got around to that Guitar Hero III was announced with music companies on board and finally giving Harmonix the original songs so I thought nothing could get better. Not only this, but real rock stars were jumping on board with avatars in-game, plus a whole slew of great indie songs.
I felt like I couldn’t keep up at this point because after mastering GH2 I finally got GH3 about 6 months after its release. With the huge price points and the guitars now starting to constantly change I felt the genre was going in the wrong direction aiming toward money and forgetting about letting us breathe and master these games which is what rhythm games were all about. By the time I mastered GH3 a little game called Rock Band was out that added the whole band set and by now my head was spinning because not only did I have to master the guitar, but vocals and drums too? I also had two different band series to master, but I pressed on and picked up my copy about 8 months after release.
Rock Band proved to be the more solid game with a huge downpour of downloadable songs that Activision couldn’t keep up within Guitar Hero III so I stuck with the new guy. Being a natural at drums was something I found out with Rock Band so a few short weeks I was pounding out songs on Expert and Hard with ease while struggling with the weird design of the Rock Band guitar. By now Activision announces Guitar Hero IV and includes the same instrument, but I blew this off for a while.
While completely ignoring the band set I just pick up the game and use the Rock Band drums to realize that the series has gone completely downhill because of the weak song selection and weird design of the whole game. By now I sit at my drum set thinking the whole genre has spiraled out of control…but it’s not done yet. Rock Band 2 comes out and I quickly jump on board feeling grateful that maybe EA has the right idea with RB2 being way better than the first, so by now I have abandoned all hope for Guitar Hero and continue on with RB2 for a couple of years. As the years go on I hear about several Guitar Hero offshoots for Aerosmith, Van Helen, and other weird things that help bring down the beloved series. Guitar Hero 5 comes out and resurrects the series with a solid comeback to the original and leaves the other instruments as options. I finally have faith in the series and enjoy the decent song list. Rock Band finally comes out with a third entry that finally reaches the ultimate goal of the rock rhythm genre: To be able to use a real guitar in the game, but it’s too little too late. With the addition of keyboards and added cymbals on the drums, it feels like the series is just a ghost and fails sales-wise while Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock comes along and completely goes crazy with a big finale for the series because both Activision and Harmonix drop their franchises due to the lack of interest in the series.
In the background, Activision releases DJ Hero to lukewarm acclaim while releasing a sequel, but countless hell spawns such as Rock Revolution and Band Hero continue to kill the genre while the terrible portable versions of these series continue to smear the genre’s name in vain. At this point in time (2008) the genre is just everywhere with Lego Rock Band, Rock Band on PSP, iPhone, Guitar Hero on Java-enabled mobile phones, but while the last of the fireworks are exploding no one is paying attention, and thus the series dies in later 2010.
With all that said and done developers need to learn a lesson that a genre needs to be left alone and approached with caution because you can kill it in a few short years. Will the glory days of the first couple of Guitar Heroes ever come again? Probably not, but in the meantime take that guitar or drum set from the closet, dust it off, and rock out to your favorite tunes because what is here is all that will be here. We are now in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the rhythm genre, so long live the king.
The Rhythm/Music genre has always been about great music, and whether your rocking out, dancing, or singing you are meant to have a great time, but the game also has to have responsive controls. If the game can’t also be read without thinking your game is broken. Making a good rhythm game is hard since the genre is so bloated these days. The game also has to have good sturdy hardware that’s responsive.
Rock Band 3
Rock Band isn’t a unique or original game anymore so why does it win for the second year in a row? The new peripherals and the fact that it actually teaches you how to play music now. With the addition of the new keytar and being able to play with a real guitar? That’s ingenious, and while the gameplay hasn’t changed much that addition of excellent hardware makes it a winner.
Multiplayer really defines most genres these days and is usually what keeps people coming back to games. A good multiplayer game usually consists of leaderboards, stat tracking, a reward system, and lots of maps, customization options, and just super fun addictive gameplay.
Modern Warfare redefined the FPS multiplayer scene and Black Ops perfects it with Wager matches, tons of customization options, perks, ranks, and well-made maps. Nothing can really hold a light to Black Ops, and to me is probably one of the best FPS multiplayer games of the decade.
Rhythm games are pretty much mainstream these days. The days of the rare Guitar Hero are long gone, and everyone and their mom plays Rock Band, but DJ Hero was a spark and a light to revive this, and while it didn’t it does offer a different and new approach to rhythm games. Like the title says you use your turntable like a DJ and scratch, crossfade, and freestyle your way to the top. There are a lot of songs, and the game requires some hefty skills to master.
Like Guitar Hero, you must use both hands in unison to hit colored notes at the right time to score points. The notes are presented on a record on-screen that is in a semi-half circle and when you see jagged notes you press the button down while turning the record. Sometimes you’ll have arrows that are up or down to just scratch quickly in that direction. The left or right notes will always have a line going down and when they move to the left or right (looks kind of like a bracket or a quick 90-degree bend) you move your crossfader in that direction. This can be tricky especially in the higher difficulties since sometimes you’ll have to scratch, and crossfade at the same time, but over time you’ll nail it. You can do some mixing with the effects knob, but this seemed pretty useless. When the red line gets larger you can press the red button freely and select one of your effect noises, but this just seemed stupid and I never really used it.
If you nail highlighted areas you can use Star Power, and your button on the turntable will turn red. When you activate this the game will crossfade for you, but the fatal flaw here is that if it ends in the middle of a fade and your slider isn’t in the right position it’ll kill your multiplier, so you have to babysit it anyways. One last feature is the ability to rewind back the track a little bit to add to your score, but this isn’t as neat as you think. While the elements are nailed there are still a few issues.
There’s no real way to express your creativity since the freestyle is so restricted. There’s no freestyle zone where you can scratch and crossfade at will. While the song selection is large a lot of the mixes are repetitive and grate on your nerves after a while. It feels more like quantity over quality here. You have big names like Eminem, Jay-Z, Grand Master Flash, Run DMC, and some other rock groups mixed in, but only a select few are worth playing multiple times.
The game’s pretty customizable with lots of characters, skins, tables, stages, and all that good stuff so it makes you really want to try for five stars. Other than that the only thing is multiplayer which allows you to use a guitar controller on songs with rock bits. The game looks like any of the recent Guitar Hero games, but the price of admission is pretty high. As of this review, the price has dropped almost double, but upon release, it was $130 and that’s pretty steep. I recommend DJ Hero even to people who don’t like rap music because there’s a lot of fun and skills to be honed here.
When Rock Band was released back in 2005 it kicks started a whole new era of rhythm games in your home. With Guitar Hero still using only the guitar controller, Rock Band introduced drums and mic to the genre. This brought a whole new meaning to the music genre and spawned many copycats, but none could do it better than Rock Band.
Now that Rock Band has hit the portable scene you just beg to wonder what quality the game has, and how could a game using instruments become so wonderfully executed with four buttons? Well, a disaster Unplugged is not and the following paragraphs shall prove this to you.
In short, Unplugged does some things really well with the gameplay but somehow manages to turn around and make the game Not Fun at the same time. Hold on to your desk, handrail, and controller, because you have to play all instruments at the same time. Yes: Bass, guitar, drums, and mic all at the same time. I know Backbone is a bunch of jerks, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. You see all four tracks on-screen (yes singing is now a regular track) and when one starts coming down you play the phrase then switch to the next phrase using L or R. Phrases are silver borders around a certain amount of notes (each difficulty makes you play more in a phrase). If you play well enough you’ll get to go to the next phase, but be fast! If you don’t switch right away, the phrase box will move up the track and you must play all the darkened notes until you get there. In the meantime, other tracks are coming down around you, bringing down your crowd meter – and this last point is what makes the game not so fun.
When you’re actually playing the game you use the left D-pad (red), up D-pad (yellow), triangle (green), and circle (blue) (DJ Max Portable vets will already have this down pat). As you can see there is no orange present since the game only uses four buttons, but don’t let this misguide you into thinking the game is easy because it is far from that. To make the game a tad easier on recognizing what buttons to hit together, the orange bar that was used for the kick pedal on the drums now ties notes that are apart from each other. This helps identify when to hit two notes simultaneously and thus makes it a bit easier when all these little notes are whizzing by. Overdrive (or Star Power) is still the same and can be activated with the X button, but having to perfectly play every phrase can make gaining Overdrive a little hard.
One other thing that really makes playing this game somewhat annoying is the fact that instruments drop out if you leave the track alone for too long. I don’t mean drop out as in failing (you can save the tracks by using overdrive) but in an audio sense. This is supposed to be an audio aid/cue to go to that instrument and play the phrase, but it just makes the song sound really bad.
One major disappointment is that Unplugged does not have any multiplayer whatsoever. Yes, I know, I know – it’s alright, you can stop crying now. I am clueless as to why this decision was made because multiplayer is what really made Rock Band shine and there’s no excuse not to have it in the PSP version. Besides the missing multiplayer, the game is really vanilla in models, as it includes only your Band World Tour, Quickplay, and Training; oh, and Options if you really like that. One request that Unplugged finally responded to was the ability to customize everyone in your band instead of just the musician you are currently playing.
The customization is actually really shallow compared to the console versions of the game since you can’t choose clothing categories (Goth, Punk, Metal, etc.), but only a few clothes for your torso, bottoms, and shoes. There aren’t as many accessories or even hair and makeup items, but this is OK since the game doesn’t look that great anyway (more on this later).
When you start your band you can name it, pick a logo (yeah you can’t even make one!), name your musicians, and pick from some generic clothing, hair, makeup, and your set. I see that Backbone had the whole “portability” thing in mind so you can whip up a band and go, but some people actually see customization (like myself) as the main part of the game and can really bring the game to life with your creations.
Once your startup a band and enter the World Tour you’ll be in familiar territory. You have mystery setlists, make a setlist, and various sponsored setlists that have various amounts of tracks. You can select your difficulty (Easy through Expert), but not your instrument and I really wish Backbone would have kept the game the way it was before with just one instrument track.
When you are actually playing a song you are rated on how well you did with up to five stars and a score multiplier. Landing notes will increase this multiplier up to 8x (if you activate Overdrive) until you miss a note when it goes back down to zero. Once the song is over you see your percentage of notes hit for each instrument along with how many phrases you played, attempted, or failed. Eventually, you’ll unlock managers you can hire to change attributes of your play style that will earn you more cash, and fans, or get you gigs you couldn’t do otherwise. You unlock songs by earning a certain amount of cash, fans, and stars. In the beginning, this can be difficult since you have to get almost perfect scores on every song to start unlocking more gigs.
Sometimes before you start a gig a screen will come up and ask you if you want to gamble with your gig (in a sense) by getting 4 stars or more you can get quadruple the cash or nothing at all, if you get 5 stars we’ll double your fans and all that. It’s fun and all, but we’ve seen this before guys!
The World Tour seems to be the meat of the game and it’s nothing new or original – just the same old stuff we’ve seen from previous entries in the series, and this is a bit disappointing since it makes you feel like you’re just playing a rushed port.
There is also downloadable content available (as I write this) for people looking for more than what’s on the disc. Currently, there are 10 songs available (assuming this is an experiment by EA) for $1.99 each from the PlayStation Store. They are great songs (Disturbed-Inside the Fire, Paramore-Crushcrushcrush), so this is a great way to keep Unplugged alive and kicking.
Since this is a band game how does it sound? Very good actually, as the songs are MP3 quality thanks to the UMD’s 1.8GB storage capacity, and the PSP’s memory size. There are 41 songs on the disc, featuring The Jackson 5, Lacuna Coil, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, Boston, Tenacious D, The Police, and a ton more. Most of these songs (again another disappointment) are from previous Rock Band games, but these seem to be the best of them and almost feel like a “Rock Band: Greatest Hits“.
However, when it comes to the actual ambiance, the game fails. Crowd noise sounds like static, the menu noises sound muffled and very monotone – almost like you were playing a DS (Ha! Take that Nintendo!) and really makes the experience kind of dull aside from the music.
If you want to talk about graphics you should cover your eyes and run away because the game looks kind of ugly. The characters don’t have realistic animations like the console versions, the detailed textures, or the nice lighting effects. Everything looks flat, plain, and really dull. The characters use the same retarded animation over and over again and it makes you wonder if the game is really a 3rd party creation. I realize the PSP has limited hardware, but C’mon they can do more than that; Kratos was able to!
While the menus look nice and crisp and remind you of Rock Band 2, I still wish there was more to the graphics and sound of the game. This is a real disappointment for me, but what saves the graphics department is that you don’t really look at the characters. Your main focuses are the tracks and the notes, which look crisp and clear.
Rock Band: Unplugged is a great departure for the series onto the portable scene. With 41 songs on disc, great controls, downloadable songs, and an extensive World Tour mode there are a lot of reasons to come back to Unplugged again and again.
Don’t let the bad sides – such as mediocre graphics, poor ambiance, awkward gameplay, and the wee bit shallow selection of modes – bother you: Unplugged is probably the best portable rhythm game ever made and it doesn’t even need a guitar hand grip.
Rock Band stole the grown from Guitar Hero as the best rhythm game and broke the boundaries with the drum peripheral and the excellent multiplayer to really make you feel like you’re in a band. I’m not going to explain how Rock Band is played since most people have already played it, so I’m mainly going to focus on improvements and updates.
Well, everything here that you loved about the first game is still here, but improved. I’m going to start with the hardware which is actually much better than the original and the most noticeable are the drums. The first game’s drums were poorly designed with pieces constantly coming apart and A LOT of plastic parts. Rock Band 2‘s drums have a metal cover on top of the kick pedal, it’s bigger, the drums are quieter thanks to the pads being a softer material than just rubber, the base of the drums actually stay together since there is a whole locking mechanism on these so moving your set won’t make the base come apart. Other than that everything on the drums is the same; there are, however; three extra colored plugs for the cymbal attachments (which are very poorly designed and NOT recommended) along with the drumsticks being a couple of inches longer. The best part about the drums is that they are wireless and the batteries last forever. With three AA batteries, I only changed them once in a five-month period and I played A LOT.
On the guitar, it is also now wireless, with a wood-type texture on the next (instead of that ugly plastic) and the buttons are a little further apart so you can feel which button you’re hitting. For some reason, the bottom buttons are still the same and I still find these useless. The microphone is a little bit lighter, but otherwise, I found no difference between this and the original. While all the hardware is well designed it’s also more solid, stable, and more responsive.
On to the game now, when you start the game up you’ll notice a nicer menu, more modes, and a longer World Tour. The first mode you’ll want to try is the training mode (if you haven’t played Rock Band before), but there is also the new drum trainer mode. You can work on your rhythm or just hit along to your own songs via the Xbox Guide which I found fun and great. I know a lot of people tap things to their favorite songs so now you really can while choosing several different drum set sound schemes. When you pop into the World Tour you’ll notice there’s a venue in almost every city in the world it seems. I bought this game in February and it’s now June and I still haven’t finished the World Tour (and I play several setlists every day).
While the fan, setlist, and star system are still intact with a new manager element added. You can hire new managers that gain you extra fans, cash, or something along those lines. While there are 25-30 cities in the game there are at least 2-3 songs plus 3-5 setlists in each city. By the time I got around to unlocking the hidden cities (including the endless setlist which is an 84-song marathon), I had thirty million fans and over 2,500 stars. Yes, that is A LOT of playing and the World Tour is actually almost impossible to beat. The best part about Rock Band is the multiplayer and Rock Band 2 adds some greatness to it with a few new modes.
There is now (the long-awaited) Band World Tour so you can take your whole band through the World Tour and complete it that way. While the other modes are still here (Tug of War, Band Duel, Co-Op) nothing else has changed. There are some other cool modes such as “Never Fail” and “Break Neck Speed” these are cool modifiers for people who are really bored. On to customization, there are more items including the new Thrifty section, but everything else is the same. The graphics are exactly the same, and customizing hasn’t changed. You can create a band logo, but it’s not any deeper than you’re familiar with. Now my favorite feature about the game is you can import songs from Rock Band 1 into the game (for a $5 fee of course), but this is well worth it.
When you’re done with that head to the store which has 500+ songs available to download with every genre imaginable on there. After you get bored with songs on the disc buy some songs! Rock Band 2 is such a great rhythm game; it’s solid, smooth, fun, heavy with songs, and has lots of quality.