Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Battle of The Bands

When Rock Band 2 was released, I grabbed the first copy on the shelves. I owe a great deal of gratitude Rock Band, its predecessor. Without it, last semester would have been unbearable. It was my hope that in the latest addition to the franchise there would be some massive improvements. An immense song library and a few more options to make game play quicker and more logical. But after two weeks, I found that my plastic guitar had been left in the corner gathering dust. Could it be school and work interfering with my rock schedule, or is something lacking in this version?
The improvements in Rock Band 2 include a “No Fail” mode so players do not have to worry about hitting those colored notes all the time. There are also small changes that make the game easier to navigate. The overhauled song menu remains one of the better improvements. The new layout makes it easier to find songs and it also lets you know how difficult the song is for drums, guitar, etc. All in all, it really isn’t that different from the original Rock Band.
I’m partial to Rock Band, primarily because it was the first music game I played. It also appeared to be more fun since it allowed more player interaction with the addition of drums, bass and vocals. Guitar Hero seemed unappealing without the added instruments. A few days prior to the release of Guitar Hero: World Tour, I spotted an article detailing the features of the game. The makers behind this game really seemed to have stepped up. Not only can you now design your own character right down to the shape and angle of the nose, but you can also record and share your own music. The new drum set with its two raised cymbals appeared to mimic drums more accurately then the Rock Band set. The fact that my Rock Band guitar, microphone, and drum set were compatible (although not completely) with Guitar Hero also really impressed me.
Don’t get too excited, some of these “improvements” may not actually be so. As innovative as recording your own music sounds, the actual quality of the music is lacking. I did not purchase the drums with my copy, but reports on the internet say that the Guitar Hero design makes game play difficult. Another drawback is this inability to “save” your fellow band members. On Rock Band, if one player failed out then another band member could save him or her by going into overdrive (or star power for Guitar Hero fans). In Guitar Hero, if your vocalist sucks or your drummer has no beat then you are out of luck.
Despite all of that, I play Guitar Hero much more than Rock Band 2. The primary reason would have to be the music. The first Rock Band was so enjoyable because it had some awesome music and it introduced me to tunes that are now on my mp3 player. What compelled me to purchase Guitar Hero in the first place was the inclusion of one of my absolute favorite songs: Band on the Run by Wings—possibly the closest I’m going to get to Beatlesque band play (that is until MTV releases the promised version completely devoted to the Fab Four).
Looking past the gimmicks and various options, I believe it all comes down to those couple of minutes when you’re playing a song. Is it a fun arrangement? Do I like the song? Am I humming the music 24 hours later? In the case of Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour, I may have to choose Guitar Hero, but my loyalty will always remain with Rock Band.
-Holly Davis

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