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Platform: Xbox 360Edition: SpecialChange
Price:$499.95+ $6.99 shipping
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Let me first admit that I'm a Guitar Hero fan. I adore playing all of the Guitar Hero games, and we have multiple guitars in the house (for multiple platforms) so that we can jam together. When Harmonix turned over Guitar Hero III to another company, I was really curious what they would choose to do next. I am THRILLED with the result - Rock Band, which combines together all the fun of singing karaoke, playing guitar (lead and bass) plus DRUMS!!!

My boyfriend is in several bands, and he plays lead guitar, bass guitar and drums. I love to sing. So we have played many, many games in all of these genres (including the Donkey Kong Konga game which is surprisingly fun). We were quite interested to see how the Harmonix guys would merge these variety of instruments into a single game.

First, the instruments. The guitar is FAR better than the guitars previously released for Guitar Hero. The buttons are "full fret" making the much easier to press. You don't have that annoying ridge line. You get TWO sets of buttons in fact - one for easier guitar solo play. You have sound settings. I can't say enough about this guitar. The only thing it lacks is stickers :) Really, couldn't they include a sticker set or two, to customize the thing? A minor flaw :)

The drum set is REALLY cool. It comes with a stand and it has a very nice feel to it. My boyfriend complained a bit about the wood sticks not being smooth, but heck, you're not paying for high quality sticks here.

There is a four-plug USB hub so you can actually plug all these items into your XBox 360 :) And there's a few headset adaptors, and a microphone. We already had several of these.

Now for gameplay. The graphics are visually lovely, although really, with up to four people playing and singing, the background stuff is pretty meaningless. The screen is taken up by all of the progress bars and alert bars and so on. I do have to comment that the customization for your characters is AWESOME. You customize their style of movement (punk, rock, etc), their facial look, hair style, eye color and much more. Plus you can buy all sorts of great outfits in the store. Never mind equipment. They really went overboard in this area.

I found when I played an instrument whose track was on the far left (the lead guitar, for example) that I could easily see the "overall progress" bar showing how everyone in the band was doing. I could see that the drum guy was doing poorly and slipping down into the red. However, when *I* was playing the drums - and the visual for my drum track was on the far right - I had NO idea how well or poorly I was doing. That overall band progress display was on the far left (past the other instruments' tracks) and there was no way to watch both my own drum note list and see how I was doing at the same time. So you almost need to designate whoever is playing in that far left track as the "band alert person" to yell out if someone is doing not so well.

The band works as a unit. If for example the drums are doing poorly, but the guitarist is doing well, the guitarist can use their energy the rev up the crowd which helps everyone in the band. So the guitarist can save the drummer, for example. On the other hand, if the drummer is really bad, after a few failures, the crowd gives up. You can't have the remaining players try to play the song out.

Which brings up one of my only complaints about the game. Let's say you start a band "Asia" with the leader being a drummer. Now any time Asia wants to continue on their career, the drummer MUST BE PLAYING. In real life, band members change positions sometimes. You have a drummer who also likes to sing. But here, if you have a position set as the leader, the game can't be played (with that band and the songs it's unlocked) without that instrument being played. We found that really annoying. You should be able to say that person X now wants to play instrument Y and keep going.

Now, interestingly, my boyfriend plays the drums. He found the drum pads AWFUL to use and thought they were broken. We swapped off and he took over guitar while I played with the drums. I did a 100% performance. So it's something about the way you hit them. I *think* they have to be hit pretty close to dead center, with a sharp rap. I'm not a drummer so undoubtedly I'm not hitting them "technically right" but I am able to sail through many songs on easy with 100%. So it's a matter of getting used to how they work.

The vocal / mike track is much like any karaoke game, and you "yell" to activate overdrive. It's a lot of fun. I did try several songs with a mike stand setup so I could play guitar and sing at the same time. It was a lot of fun - but part of the mike track is "cowbells" where you're supposed to thwap the microphone in time to the beat. Unfortunately if you're busy playing the guitar or drums you no longer can thwap the microphone. I tried yelling "POP" and it worked about half the time, if I used a very snappy sound to my POP. Still, it's a shame you can't sing and play because of this.

The songs in this list are GREAT. I really love some of them, and there were few that I simply didn't like at all. It's cool that they have multiple venues per location, instead of the Guitar Hero games where there was just "one Boston" and so on. You have to actually earn a Van or Bus or whatever to move on to a new city. You actually build up a fan base as you go, and lose it if you do poorly. That is all very cool. On the down side, the progression of songs is rather odd. You can play 2 songs you like in Boston, and then go to Chicago and play the exact two songs again to earn more stars there. The songs seem to unlock slowly. I'm also not overly fond of several modes where you have no idea what songs are coming up until 2 seconds before the songs begin.

They do have a training mode and solo mode, but really you figure the great appeal of this game is to play with your friends, using the various instruments. So we found that interface - where you are stuck with a single leader, and it is very much one-person-one-instrument oriented, to be a bit frustrating. Sure, I love playing drums - but I love playing guitar too! Sometimes I love to sing. It didn't seem like it should be THAT bad to let a person switch instruments once you'd unlocked a bunch of venues and songs.

Finally, I really like that right from the start you have access to all difficulty modes, and can set them by person. So if you have a really great guitarist in your family, and someone who is perhaps younger or just getting started, the great guitarist can set themselves to difficult and the younger person can set to easy and both can have a really fun, challenging time.

I am really looking forward to new song downloads too, and imagine that could make this game last years and years and be just as much fun.

Highly, highly recommended if you can get your hands on this thing. We were there right when the store opened to get our hands on ours, and it sold out immediately. Well worth tracking down!! Note that I have photos of the instruments on my website and am happy to answer any other questions you guys have about this game.
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on November 20, 2007
When I first heard that Harmonix was creating Rock Band, I thought to myself, "Guitar Hero Remix". Until I heard about the mic and then the sweet drum set. So I was amped for this to come out. Then GH3 came out and all I could think of was "Dang...Rock Band better be awesome cause I just can not put GH3 down". Then I hit up my local Best Buy with a mock set-up of RB..and once I hit those sticks on those drum pads..I was in heaven. I was already going to buy RB, but now I HAD to have it.

I bought it the day it came out as soooon as my local Target opened up. Went straight home (with Kane & Lynch also...which at this time hasnt been played..heh) and began opening it up. After a few minutes of setting up (drums take a few parts to put together..nothing hard tools), I was ready to go.

I started off with the drums (like probably most people). I'm gonna have to say..they are a lot tougher than I thought they were gonna be. I've never played drums in my life so it's gonna take a little time to get used to them. When I tried them at Best Buy...they had a demo that didnt include the base pedal. Well now I have to worry about stepping on that, while also worrying about where I'm slamming my two sticks at also. Sounds easy right? I really dont think so..least not By no means am I dogging this part though. I can see that this will be a lot of fun, especially when you start playing on Hard. On Easy the beats are so slow that I really do not feel like a rocker... I feel more like I'm some slow drummer in some jazz band. But I know it's like that to get people like myself accustomed to this new piece of equipment.

Secondly, I grabbed the new guitar. I put it on Medium and began playing a bunch of songs. I looovveee this guitar. The top fret buttons feel so good. One the edge of the green button and the orange button, there is a lift about half an inch high. So when you start playing on Hard or Expert and you start moving up and down the fret buttons trying to hit every button, you won't get lost cause you'll bump into those lifts. Definitely helps out. Also at the bottom you have 5 more fret buttons with the same color. Once a 'solo' appears on screen (the background will be a shade of blue) you can use these buttons and not even have to strum. Just hit the buttons once the button appears on the line. So much fun and you feel like even more of a rocker. The selector on the guitar has a bunch of sound effects that you can do on the fly. Pretty cool I guess, but I swear I cant hear a difference. Not saying it's not there, but I just havent heard the difference yet. The ONLY gripe I have about the guitar is the Whammy Bar. Its so dang long and almost gets in the way of my strummer. It looks very good, but I'm just not diggin it. It's not crazy bad where you would hate the guitar, but I would have liked it just a bit shorter. One last thing about the guitar. My roommate is insanely good at Guitar Hero and he is in absolute love with this new guitar and the new way it plays out on Rock Band. He doesnt even want to look at the GH guitars He has issues with the whammy also though.

The Mic is next. I've never played a karaoke game before on any system. I never really cared for it (even though I do like Karaoke sometimes...when I'm drinking). I also didnt really know how it worked. Well before I stopped playing RB for a while, I decided to try it out. HOOKED. Seriously hooked on this part of the game right now. I was laughing at first while singing cause it was just funny to me, but then I really started getting into it. Then my roommate wanted to join in with the guitar. So we picked Creep and aced the crap out of it. Next thing you know we had Mississippi Queen playing and then I'm standing up and just rockin the mic. Right then I could just TELL this was going to be a very fun party game. I'm getting off track here. Ok, back on. When you sing you have to keep the pitch or tone of your voice on track with the line that shows on the screen. There is an arrow that will let you know if you are to high or to low. When it's time for your 'energy' meter (star power), you can just make any noise or statement you want to to activate it. I just usually hold out the note of the last word longer than usual to activate it...or scream ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?! (cause it always gets a The only thing I dont care for is that you have to tap the mic on certain parts to make a tambourine sound or a cow bell sound. It's not bad if you are JUST singing, but I can see how that would be crap if you were playing a guitar or drum also. It doesnt HURT you if you miss those beats, but you dont get extra points. So far I love the mic, but probably cause I've never played those Karaoke games before like I said.

Although the 360 version isnt wireless cause of Microsofts greedy self (they use a proprietary wireless that they charge companies to use and Harmonix didnt want to pay for it so they could keep the PS3 and the 360 versions the same price), it's not TOOOO bad. The wires are a lot longer than the GH guitar wires. Plus the 4 port USB that comes with the game is a godsend for this game (make sure you have one more outlet for the USB plug). Hopefully they'll make some wireless stuff later.

When you start your career, you'll get to start customizing your guy or gal you want to use. Lot of different things you can do also...I was very surprised. If you ever played any of the Def Jam fighting games, then you might think back to those games like I did. Faces, Rock Styles (fighting styles on Def Jam), Hair, Height, Color, Rings, Bracelets, Pants, Shoes, Shirts, Tattoos. It's crazy. Lots of items to choose from the start and more and more as you get farther into the game. I unlocked 5 things in 5 songs I believe. I cant talk much about career mode since I stopped after my first 5 songs since I had to get ready for work. What I played though was really fun and what I've read and seen on videos (mainly from the rockbands website) its seems like it's going to be a blast.

I still love Guitar Hero. 1, 2 and 3. Not 80's, but whatever. I'm still gonna play them because of certain songs. But I think Rock Band has become my new favorite. Especially since once in a while, we have a good group of people show up to just drink and play GH. I think Rock Band is gonna replace that thanks to the 4 player support, GREAT song list, and more than just a guitar or two to play with. Actually I know it

While you are reading this... I'm pretty sure I'm playing Rock Band. =D

***UPDATE for 22 Nov 07.***

2 more gripes about this game.

1. Harmonix seemed to use a LOT of constant repetitious notes..for have to hit the blue button say...6 times in a row..then the red..6 times in a row..then back to blue..6 times in a row...then yellow..six times in a row...and on and on. I dont mind this on some songs...but I'm just saying they used it a lot this time around. Even my roommate was getting aggravated with it.

2. I believe my guitar is starting to act up like others that I have read. My strum bar after only a day is getting less responsive on the down strokes. I'm missing notes for no reason. I started using the up stroke instead and now I'm hitting ever note. I'm gonna send a request for a new guitar soon. Usually I'm not a victim of the faulty hardware that many people come across (I've never even seen a red ring of death in person on the 360...knock on wood), but this time I think I am. *sigh*

Cool stuff I like though since I first posted.

1. I figured out how to use the Guitar sound effects switch. Gotta be using star power (energy..whatever). Very fun!

2. Love how the star power adds up even while you are using it. Huge improvement over GH's.

Thats it for now.

LOVE this game...really I do. Just wish the guitar didnt start messing up. =(

***UPDATE for 23 Nov 07.***

2 really cool new things I like.

1. I REALLY love how when you are doing good during a song...the crowd starts to sing along with the song. WOW! That made me feel more like I was there than GH ever did. Very cool feature.

2. During Thanksgiving...I took my game over to a friends house. We had enough people to put a 4 player group together. Talk about A LOT of fun. 2 people never even touched GH before. Yet they had a blast playing all three instruments. The one girl I was playing with who I would have thought would've been on the mic more since she likes karaoke STOLE the drum set almost the whole time..she loved it. It was a lot of fun watching her beat the crap out of the I was on mic most of the time since most were scared of it. Sometimes other people took the mic over, and even though they were sometimes was never embarrassing. Most of the time the other people were to engaged into their own playing or either it was so bad that it wasnt embarrassing, but just down right funny.

I had way to much fun with that game this Thanksgiving. Like I said way earlier..I knew this would be a great party game. We didnt even think about putting GH in.
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on November 24, 2007
I pre-ordered the Special Edition of the game and had it delivered in time for Thanksgiving with the family and the kids. As the other reviewers have commented, this is a great game, lots of fun especially when playing multiplayer.

Only problem is, there seems to be a production flaw in the guitar's strum bar. Strumming down only works a fraction of the time, and at times it will think you've hit it multiple times when in fact you only hit it once. As a result, even if you're playing perfectly, you end up getting booed off the stage because the guitar controller is not working properly. On the other hand, strumming "up" works fine. I tried tweaking the "calibration" on the game through setting after setting, but it didn't work.

After doing a quick internet search on the EA RockBand community bulletin board, I realized that many other users have been having the same problem, and that the guitar controller is to blame. The manufacturer/publisher must know about these problems, because it only took me a few clicks at the EA Games website to order a replacement.

Until the replacement guitar controller gets here, I found that you can still play the game by strumming up--finger plucking, like you would do on a bass--but this makes fast songs like "Highway Star" almost impossible to complete, though I was able to do it. Once they get these defective guitars out of circulation, I might give this game five stars. But I would wait until these defects are worked out before shelling out the big bucks for the game.
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on December 23, 2007
I am a parent and purchased this game for my kids for Christmas. I gave it to them early so they could get more enjoyment out of it. The first time they played it the drum foot pedal broke in half. I contacted EA support and was told they would send me another one in 3-5 days, which would have been okay, but they would charge my credit card $125, which they would refund once they received the old one, or they would send me packaging to return the old one and they would send me another 2 weeks after they received it. I asked how much it was just to purchase another one and was told it was $25 but I couldn't get one that way due to demand, but I was free to purchase them when they released individual instruments later in the year. I have to say my kids did get to play this game as their cousins got one and they loved it, but obviously the customer is not important to EA. I do not understand why they feel the need to charge their customers 5 times the price of the hardware to replace their broken product, I would gladly have paid for a replacement so this wouldn't ruin my kids Christmas, but I think 5 times is excessive. Overall I think the game is a lot of fun for the kids but I am very unhappy with the hardware support.
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VINE VOICEon November 20, 2007
I've only had Rock Band for XBox 360 one day, but I can easily recommend it to any and all. This special edition comes with everything you need to play the game - a guitar, mic, drum set and the game. There is a fourth instrument however - bass, which is played using the guitar. If you want to play guitar and bass at the same time, a second guitar is needed. Fortunately, the guitar hero guitars work well if you have them. If not, I recommend buying Guitar Hero 3 bundle for xbox360, which comes with a wireless guitar. The instruments for rock band are all wired (to USB ports on xbox 360), which can be annoying, but on the plus side, they don't require any batteries!

Thanks to Karaoke Revolution and Guitar Hero, singing and playing faux-guitar are nothing new for video games. They've been done, and done well. In fact, you should check them out too.

What hasn't been done before is the drum set. The set you receive is made from mostly aluminum and hard molded plastic, extremely durable. Gaming magazines have reported the drum set as taking tons of abuse without being worse for the wear. The 4 well-sized drum pads are on a ~30° tilt, are adjustable in height and have a good, rubbery spring to them. The foot pedal is awkward at first and could be more responsive, but certainly does the job. Everyone in the family will be eager to give it a try, and once won't be enough. One word of caution - unless you're a percussionist, start off with Easy and expect to make plenty of mistakes. It will probably take a LOT of practice to make it up to Hard, but then again, being a good drummer takes a lot of practice too. And perhaps the best feature of Rock Band, unlike other music video games, is by the time you hit Expert, you'll actually be able to play drums.

The special edition bundle may be pricey, but if you and/or your family are at all musically inclined, you'll get more than your money's worth. Just one note of caution - although far from the volume or noise of a real drum set, between the drums and singing, you may want to set this one up in the basement.
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on December 9, 2007
First of all I bought this game for my son. We all enjoyed playing it on family game night. First the gutair strum bar went out and we returned it for another. Then the mic went out intermittently cause us problems in the band. We returned it for a full refund and went back to gutair hero 3. I'll wait til they get the bugs out before buying it again.
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on November 21, 2007
So you can see enough other reviews that talk about how awesome this game is. I have to admit that it has more than just a little bit of magic. You get a bunch of folks in the room, you hear that drum beat going, and the music starts, it's hands down the best immersive gaming experience.

The songs are awesome, the drums are easy to start and still challenging to master, and the vocals are just as good as in any of the Sing Star type games out there.

My problem is within the first day of playing it (and I admit we were rocking out pretty heavy for a few hours) the guitar strumming mechanism stopped responding. It's now just loosely sitting there and only register very hard pushes in one direction or another.

This is by far the worst guitar I've seen (and its ironic since I was sure the drums would break first). I'm really disappointed in such poor quality in the peripherals when we're paying such a premium for the guitar (the wireless version retails for $80!).

I'm really curious to find out if anyone else out there sees issues like this. I find it hard to believe we were the only ones that are experiencing this.

I purchased the Xbox 360 Special Edition package.

Anyone else experiencing QA issues with the peripherals?
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on December 18, 2007
I was skeptical of this game at first. $170 is alot of money, especially since I had bought GH2 and GH3 for the 360. This game paid for itself day one.

The fact that you can have 4 people make this a blast. Singing is alot of fun, the bass parts are better than what is found in GH, the guitar is good (with the same timings as in GH2, but without artificial difficulty added in GH3, which is a great game BTW) and the drums are the meat and potatoes.

It takes about 10 minutes to get into the game. Create characters, name your band, and start rocking. The set list is very good, and the difficulty scales well. And the drums are the best part about this game, and the reason the $170 price tag is easily justified.

If you can only choose one game, go with rockband, you and your friends won't regret it.
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on December 16, 2007
This game is very fun and a blast to play with friends. My only problem, and I feel it is a very substantial problem, is that the guitar and drum set are very cheaply made. After playing it for less than 12 hours total, I have already had to make calls to get the guitar and the kick pedal for the drum set replaced. On the guitar the strum bar stopped working correctly after about 4 hours, and the kick pedal broke where it is attached to the base. I can see these things breaking eventually, but not during the first weekend of use.
Great game, I just wish that they had included more robust equipment with it.
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VINE VOICEon December 10, 2007
This Christmas season many people and parents are thinking about whether or not to buy Rock Band or Guitar Hero 3. I bought Guitar Hero 3 when it came out but the truth is I only bought Guitar Hero 3 so I could have the extra guitar controller. Guitar Hero 3 is a fun game but if you're a parent who's looking to decide which one to buy there's really no competition. Rock Band may be $170 but it's been many years since I felt that I got this much value out of one game. Rock Ban's replay ability downright massacres Guitar Hero 3's. Rock Band may be a lot of money but I think you'll win parent of the year award if you buy this game.

Harmonix, the original Guitar Hero creators have once again revolutionized the way we play video games with Rock Band. Rock Band's main game play is meant to be its multiplayer where four people create their own characters in a band and travel to various places around the world playing gigs and earning fans and money. A new feature introduced in Rock Band is that you are penalized in the game for failing or restarting a song during world tour. As you gain fans you gain people like sound technicians who in reality do nothing but look cool in the game. The world tour should supply you with many hours of game play even more if you aren't using the same four people as your band mates.

The solo career is basically the same thing as Guitar Hero's except it should give you a lot of much needed extra practice with drums, vocals, and guitar if you need it. I found the guitar parts to be much easier than Guitar Hero's but at the same time more enjoyable because hard and expert are not all about pushing the same two buttons over and over again as fast as you can. It's quite fun. I'm a bassist so I was disappointed about the lack of bass career mode but the bass lines can be rather boring so I don't exactly blame them. The drum parts are very hard at first but you should get the hang out it. Singing is a different story, I still haven't mastered it. Despite what people might tell you, Rock Band's single player is just as fun as Guitar Hero and gives you more stuff to do.

Rock Band fixed some of the annoying things about Guitar Hero. Rock Band shows you how many stars you have earned and how close you are to the next one while you are playing so you get a sense of where you need to improve. However I felt that the Rock Band guitar was not as good as the Guitar Hero 3 wireless guitar. The set list is great but contained fewer songs than Guitar Hero, but there are more downloadable songs and Harmonix have announced more for the future. I was very impressed with the selection of songs the game had, every genre is represented in the game.

Guitar Hero is a great game but Rock Band has taken Guitar Hero's basis and built so much more on top of it. Rock Band so far has destroyed every party game I've ever played and this game is the must have game of the year. I would still buy Guitar Hero 3 for the controller, but if you're only going to buy one Rock Band is the one for you.
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