I finally got my hands on Rock Band today at the Leipzig Games Convention, and must warn you in advance - I am now officially a gushing fanboy. Without even having seen all of what is on offer at GC, this is looking like sure-fire Game of the Show material. More video, and plenty of gushing after the break.
The guitar is much different from the Guitar Hero guitars many of you will be familiar with. The buttons take up the entire fretboard, and took a little getting used to for someone a little too familiar with the Xbox 360 Gibson X-Plorer, however the strum bar feels much nicer. I didn’t get the opportunity to try lead guitar, so I’m unable to comment on the additional five buttons placed further up the neck, which are used for solos.
And the drums? They can take some punishment. The best way to hit drums is, after all, as hard as you possibly can. A hi-hat pedal would’ve been nice, but hey - that’s getting into (pricey) MIDI drum kit territory, and really wouldn’t match the scaled-down guitars.
There’s no question the inclusion of a microphone makes the game accessible to a drastically wider audience than Guitar Hero - no matter how alien a musical instrument is to someone, you can bet they’ve belted out a few hits in the shower - and words are a lot easier to read than music. Well, 5/12ths of music if you want to get technical (western music consists of 12 notes, whereas GH/Rock Band scale this down to 5 notes.)
The only thing that could bring Rock Band down from here? The price point. After a myriad rumors between USD$200 and $300 there’s still no concrete information regarding price, but needless to say, a price anywhere near $300 negates much of the accessibility gained from the inclusion of singing.
Please excuse the short clips - it was a condition of the music licensing for Harmonix that no more than 30 seconds be posted - or at least, that was their excuse for putting a 30 second limit on any clips that we posted.