Rock Band: Wii

Rock Band was a wonderful idea. Whoever felt that the Guitar Hero formula would work with Drums and vocals as well deserves the world’s biggest pat on the back EVER. Package it all together in a customisable and epic trip through rock and roll and you’ve got a winning formula. That is of course, if you can afford the peripherals. And if you have a PS3 or an Xbox 360.

The Rock Band package in all its awesomeness clocks in at about £150. You will be looking at £120 for the “band in the box” package, which contains one guitar, a microphone and the drum kit. An extra guitar is a colossal £50. This box doesn’t come with the game either, which needs to be bought separately (RRP £29.99).

So, assuming you’ve emptied your bank account and have taken the band in a box home with you, you should be ready to start playing. And my God, what a treat you are in for. Rock Band takes everything that was great about Guitar Hero and improves on it in every conceivable way. No longer are you confined to Guitar and Bass during the wealth of songs that are available for play. Now you can sing along to the tunes using the very Singstar-like screen presentation of scrolling words and a pitch bar, or you can play the drums.

For me, the real appeal of Rock Band is right there in the drums. You play them exactly as you would in guitar hero, colours scroll down the screen towards you, and you must hit the corresponding coloured drum in time with the music. There’s also a foot pedal as well, corresponding to a purple line across the scroll bar. Playing the drums feels absolutely fantastic, and whilst not being hugely realistic (come on, when was Guitar Hero ever realistic?), it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than buying an actual drum kit. You activate your star power through drum fills, an enormously well pulled-off idea, where blank areas of the scroll bar come toward you, and you can play whatever you want, as long as you end it by hitting the tom on the far right, which acts as the “crash”. Making your own fills is a brilliant function and works so very well in allowing you to bring a touch of personalisation to the songs.

Guitar and Bass are exactly the same as they were in GH. Again, colours, scrolling, strumming, you get the picture. My main niggle is with the guitar that comes with the band in the box set. The strum bar is incredibly flexible, almost to the point of being bendy, and when playing, it does not feel nearly as satisfyingly clunky as, say, the Les Paul that comes with GH3. It would seem as though Harmonix wanted to make the Guitar more realistic, but it just really doesn’t work. An upside to Rock Band though is that all GH peripherals work absolutely fine on it. Bonus.

Single player modes again, are exactly the same as Guitar Hero where you would need to play a group of songs to get to the next set, which would be decidedly harder, until there are none left and you “complete” the game. Whilst this is all well and good, the real brilliance of Rock Band is playing in, well, a band!

I would go so far as to say that Rock Band is probably the most fun you can have with a group of mates and a video game console. Playing in a band is hugely entertaining and massively rewarding. Not only do you have all the fun of enjoying playing your favourite songs with all of your friends, but you all have to support each other too. It’s all very cooperative, if one of you fails, you all fail. Star Power is launched as a group rather than individually, and it can “save” someone who’s close to failing or has even got to the point of dropping out. You can save someone a total of three times before you fail a song completely, but it’s a brilliant method of teaching everyone to work as a team…no…as a band.

Once you feel like you’ve played with the band enough, you will be ready to take the show on the road to the game’s fantastic “Band World Tour” mode…

…apart from the fact that this isn’t in the Wii version at all. Erm…excuse me?

Yes, you heard right. The real meat and bones of the Xbox 360 and PS3 version is the Band World Tour mode, where you can play alone or cooperatively with your friends for the ultimate goal – become the greatest band in the world. Raise loads of money, play loads of songs, and have a great time set toward a common goal. For reasons unbeknownst to the general public, this mode has been omitted from the Wii version.

This sets the pace back a fair amount – if you want to play multiplayer you are literally restricted to playing one off songs. No common goal, no drive, just do one song and play the next.

It’s not the only thing to be left out either. The Wii version has approximately 60 songs on it, which is about the same as Guitar Hero 3 (bar of course, the hidden tracks), but is a darn sight less than the 360 and PS3 versions which has well over 100 tunes to play along to. I understand that the Wii has no internal hard drive to be able to download music to, but to leave songs off of the retail disc? Come on! The customisation options are much less than that of other versions too. Whereas on the 360 or PS3 you can customise your rocker’s appearance or instrument to a tee, you are left with little more than editing your rocker’s name on the Wii. It’s disgusting that so much was left out to be frank.

In all honesty, Rock Band is the perfect multiplayer experience and is very hard to tire of. So much has been left out of the Wii version though, it doesn’t feel quite like the huge rock show as it should do. Imagine getting Rolling Stones tickets and showing up to find they’ve been replaced with McFly. It feels very similar to that.

If you want the definitive Rock Band experience, get it on 360 or PS3, because you will be getting far more for exactly the same price. It’s easily a 10/10 experience on other consoles, but not nearly as much on the Wii.

Hi-Score – Fantastic idea, great multiplayer, satisfying gameplay, drums!

Lo-Score – Massively scaled down in comparison to other versions, very expensive, Guitar Peripheral is flimsy and weak.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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