(Imported from old blog 2008-05-04)
After reading an article in the newspaper about how the USD is really low at present - as well as checking that they still didn't have a local release date for Rock Band here yet, I decided it was time to do the import thing! I already have a copy of Rock Band imported for the Xbox 360 mainly to see if it would work due to region differences, figuring I'd just use the Xbox Live headset for mic and my two Guitar Hero guitars for the guitars and grab the drums by itself when it's released here. But, that didn't quite work out, apparently it's "incorrect format" for my poor Xbox360, so, that's a no go!
However, people have mentioned how region free the PS3 is, so I figured I'd give it a shot really - especially since I don't have any PS3 games (except some random car-game I never really played which I got with the PS3). And 230USD (incl. shipping) later, it was in the mail!
FYI, the box is quite quite huge and fairly heavy, utter insanity really - glad that UPS decided to deliver it to me at my doorstep!
I should note that my initial interest in the game wasn't really the drums like I see most people rushing when it comes to the game. I wanted to try the guitar and see how guitar works here compared to Guitar Hero, as such, it was straight to the guitar and assembly right away. One interesting detail here is that they decided to put a tiny screw that keeps the batteries locked down, I suspect they didn't feel the easy design which has been used in oh... every other guitar controller and/or regular wireless controller was quite up to the Rock Band standard! I spent 15 minutes running around trying to find my tiny screwdriver as a result... I feel they should've at least warned me in advance that I'd need something like this! :)
The guitar is looking quite neat really, with the regular 5 buttons as normal, then 5 added buttons near the strum-bar to be used for solos. I found this to be a fairly cool thing in theory when I heard about it - and it was only slightly different from that in reality... the drawback was that the buttons are placed so close to each other that you're pretty much screwed when you just finally managed to perfect memorizing and feeling the 5-button spacing and switching properly to play all 5 buttons from the GH-deal, they mess you up so bad by doing this! The way it works is pretty much just like the normal 5 buttons in the normal gameplay, however, when you get into an area of the song labeled a Guitar Solo, you can use those new buttons to play without strumming at all, hitting one of those is an implicit strum as well - which means you mess up even more as you're most likely used to pressing the buttons a bit before so you're ready to strum - but oh no, that's a hit! :) They also added different settings on your guitar which makes the guitar sound during solos and starpower change into various other sounds, while it has no real effect on gameplay, it makes it sound a lot more spiffy! :)
The actual guitar used in the game is quite interesting, as they've completely removed the sound it makes when you strum, which makes it... odd really, but to compensate they added the most insane clicking noises when you click the fret-buttons for some odd reason, but after a bit of playing, it felt quite nice to use really, want to use this one for Guitar Hero as well!
The game in itself is quite awesome really! To use the regular Guitar Hero as comparison initially and go into details on solo mode, you have the regular guitar which works just like Guitar Hero, with the exception that you enter certain defined Guitar Solo parts where you get a percentage indicator which tracks your hit rate, and you get a score bonus at the end based on the amount of notes hit. The bass seems to work similar as well, although, as it doesn't have any guitar solo parts to score extra points, they've added the score multiplier to add up to 6x instead of 4x like the other instruments have.
The singing is reportedly like Singstar, which I haven't tried (yet!) - but I most likely will I fear ...
It got strangely addictive when I managed to figure out just how to sing along! I only struggled with some of the songs where you have to sing where the pitch is supposed to go really low, as I tend to mess that up and make the mic stop recognizing my voice as I get too low. :( The difference in difficulties here comes from the "size" of the "you-should-be-in-this-pitch" bar that roams around. I did a few songs on Easy/Medium before trying Expert, and found that to work out relatively well really, so... a few hours later I was done with all the songs! Next! :)
I didn't really look forward to playing drums, never did, and after trying, I'm glad that most others seem fond of playing that evil ... thing! The kit is basically 4 different circles you hit, and a pedal you step on at times... It's all good fun till someone figures out that the pedal should differ in rhytm from the other circles you need to hit, at that point it becomes impossible to play and you usually end up crying and hoping someone else saves you. It's a LOT of fun when you actually get things going, and the freestyle segments are pretty cool, especially when mixed with the throw-sticks-in-the-air-and-hope-you-catch-them trick. Should note that when you don't catch them you can still play on using your hand instead of the stick, but it's painful if done over longer periods of time, so I'd advice against trying this at the beginning of the songs.
Then you have he band mode which is awesome really! The gameplay differences from Guitar Hero Coop seems to be that each instrument has its own failure meter, and if an instrument fails, the others have a bit of time where they can use starpower to bring them back into the game. It's quite fun to activate starpower as the singer to save the crappy drummer who messed up *again*, especially with the chat afterwards about how you really carry the whole band and they couldn't make it without you...
The only semi-bad thing I found with the game so far is that it's very hard to make all the instruments "enjoyable" in all of the songs you have available, namely the bass tends to end up with utterly boring repetetive songs, as well as there being certain songs which have less than 40% of actual singing, so being on the mic isn't all that fun. Though, I guess they need to have it done like that, and I complain now, but when my playlist shows up as songs ingame and basically all instruments will be utterly easy, I'll most likely be full of praise of the immersiveness of all the instruments!
Another slightly worrying part is that I've played through the guitar and mic now on hard and expert respectively. Yet, I want to play more, but feel it's nowhere near as fun as it would've been on the Xbox360 due to the fact that I'd be working towards achievements there as I'm having my share of fun, and here I'm just ... doing "nothing"! This was one of the reasons why I wanted the game for my Xbox, yet, didn't think I'd feel it as strong as I do now really...
So, thank you for my Gamercard, Microsoft!
*Waiting for Xbox360 EU Release, hoping USB-Drums will work on Xbox as well*