Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi is a national journalist who has been covering the video game business for more than a decade. In addition to covering the game industry for Local Tech Wire and blogging for WRAL.com, he also writes about gaming for Wired Magazine, The Washington Post, Xbox.com and Yahoo! Games.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.- Developer Harmonix has been a pioneer in the cross-pollination of music and gaming, dating back to its first PS2 games like Frequency and Amplitude. After scoring a hit with its Karaoke Revolution, Harmonix took the world by storm three years ago with Guitar Hero.
But all of these games (and there’s part of Guitar Hero, part of Karaoke Revolution) have lead to the ultimate convergence of music and games.
Rock Band is without a doubt the most creative game ever made.
Sure, the Wii is an amazing console that’s helping the game industry reach record highs, but a few years from now, I believe Rock Band will have ushered in a whole new way to game and rock. Guitar Hero was and still is fun, but for the ultimate four-player party experience, nothing beats watching a person on the mic, two players on the guitar and bass, and a drummer playing real rock music from the ’60s to the modern day.
Like Guitar Hero and Wii, Rock Band is a game that doesn’t require any knowledge of gaming. In fact, you don’t have to know anything about music. I’ve never played drums, but I had a blast drumming to Weezer at Harmonix’ new studio last week. (With the success of its games, the team has exploded from 40 to over 140 employees–most of whom come from bands or some type of music background.) The game’s both plug-and-play simple on Easy, but challenging enough so that by the time you’ve mastered Difficult on the drums, you’ll be able to play the real drums. In order to succeed at this game, you have to keep rhythm, whether singing, drumming or playing the Fender guitar. Over time, as your real band develops, you’ll get better at any of these gameplay modes.
Rock Band is truly a game that will never grow old. While the cost of entry may be considered steep by some ($170 for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions, $160 for the PlayStation 2 bundle), you get a drum set, a guitar, a microphone, and the game in one huge box. By the way, if you see that box at a store, grab it.
This is going to be the hottest game this Christmas and Electronic Arts and MTV Games won’t be able to keep up with the demand. You get a lot for your money, and once you have this game, you can buy entire albums or individual songs online for as little as $1.99 each. Harmonix is also working on new guitars (wireless for 2008), new drum sets and all types of new peripherals (mic stand, anyone?) that players will be able to build out from. Just as your band grows in the game from dank hole-in-the-wall clubs to sold-out arenas, your real band and equipment will improve over the years.
Rock Band is now in stores and it’s a must-have game for just about anyone. Although rock is the focus now, down the line more pop, country and other music could be added via download, so that just about every genre will be covered. In the past, the odds of becoming a rock star were slim to none. Harmonix now brings that rock ‘n roll wish (minus the sex and drugs) to anyone with a PS3, Xbox 360 or PS2.