In the lead up to Friday’s Halopalooza, I got my hands on Rock Band for the first time. Given its imminent release date and its controversial pricing, this was an opportunity for me to give it a quick once over and find out whether I could be tempted to relax the purse strings.
So, armed with an imported PS3 copy, thanks to the Cheltenham lads’ jaunt round the States last year, I proceeded to bang several shades out of the drums and wail unceremoniously on the mic. Drumming would be my primary draw to this game; I can sing on Sing Star, I can guitar on Guitar Hero, but no where else can I attend to find out whether I have the rhythm to coordinate all of my limbs.
Most people who have played music/rhythm games before should feel right at home hitting the pads in time with the blocks of colour that coarse down the screen but it is the strange feeling of bringing your foot into play for the bass drum that threw me completely. Often I’ve had it tapping along in Guitar Hero or Donkey Konga but to bring it on cue took a while to even register let alone get used to and whole portions of the song would go by without me hitting it correctly.
I actually found the supposed harder songs easier to play through as there was more of a consistent stream of notes and the bass drum came through on a far more regular basis.
The experience, though, can’t be denied. Caning the sticks up and down, feeling as though you are really putting something into the song felt fantastic and the free-form sections allowed an area to truly vent a drum solo making for an inspiring experience.
Slightly less memorable was the singing sections, but this is down to my own talents and paranoia more than anything else.
As with Sing Star, you are given a phrase to sing and a chart that shows you roughly where on a scale you should be aiming to sing it, allowing you to see if you are too high or too low. What it doesn’t tell you, however, is if you are singing in the wrong style.
In a house full of guitar loving rockers, I produced my best boy band sing-a-long voice. My shameful past of really enjoying a good bit of cheesy karaoke at university came back to haunt me as The Strokes and Radiohead were given a new twist.
If I had known the lyrics rather than just the riffs on a lot of the tracks I would have probably felt an awful lot better about it all but you could see that the singing offered an deep avenue of gameplay for those who weren’t inclined towards plastic instruments.
Overall, I am jealous. Knowing that there is a game out there that could truly bring together a group of friends to rock out on but knowing that despite the enjoyment I still can’t justify a purchase. And that’s the kicker, when a group of us were playing together it’s a truly great social experience. My only hope now is that Ali allows me a portion of our Wedding List to include some plastic drums.