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Rock Band Impressions

I’ve never had a game do me in like Rock Band. This morning I woke up with a sore back and aching wrists. Yesterday I was playing Rock Band. Drums, in particular. I thought I had a good chair and good posture, but my bad back betrayed me and now I’m quite sore.

I wasn’t planning on buying Rock Band until my basement was finished. But our basement finishing plans have been postponed indefinitely, so now on my wife’s prompting, Rock Band is in the house.

Now, I’ve played Guitar Hero I, II, Rocks the 80’s, and III. I have them all, and the two guitars to prove it. So that’s the background I’m coming from. I’m not going to post a full review of the game – others have done so much better than I can. So I’ll just give a couple impressions.


First off, I love the presentation. After four GH games that all look and play the same, it’s very refreshing to come into a similar style of game that has a totally different visual style to it. Maybe it’s just the fact that this is my first such game on the PS3 on my new 1080p television, but everything just looks so sweet and crisp. I love it.

I also like how they did the career mode. It’s a much less linear progression than the Guitar Hero games, and it’s fun. The only problem is that while you can do a solo career as a lead guitarist, singer, or drummer, there’s no option for bass guitar. Which really sucks, because bass with it’s “bass groove” perk quickly became my favourite instrument. I enjoyed playing a lot of bass songs on Hard difficulty, which is something I can’t do playing lead guitar – it’s just too difficult for me.

The ability to create your own rocker is a blast too. I enjoy tweeking the look of my characters.


I’ve heard the the Rock Band controller is a love-it or hate-it affair, and I fall firmly into the love-it category. It’s great. It duplicates the five coloured buttons much further up the neck, and I’ve been enjoying using those new buttons. I like the mushy strum bar, and I like the coloured buttons’ click. But there is a fly in the ointment. I am having one problem with the guitar – activating Overdrive (Rock Band’s version of Star Power). It just doesn’t work right. Sometimes it activates when I don’t want it to and other times it doesn’t activate when I do. I can lift up the guitar even past vertical, spin it in the air, flip it around, nothing. It’s very frustrating. I think I’ll put in for a new guitar.

The absolutely most stupid thing of all, though, is that I have no solution for playing two guitars. I have a rock band with a band member missing. What other guitar works with Rock Band for the PS3?

Which brings up another pet peave. In the Guitar Hero games, if you didn’t have an extra guitar, you could just use a controller instead. Not so in Rock Band. Quite frustrating.

Song Selection

Sony selection wise, I think that maybe Guitar Hero III has a better selection than Rock Band does, but I haven’t played all the Rock Band songs yet, so I’ll have to reserve final judgement for later.

I did download two songs – Buddy Holly and Juke Box Hero. But I don’t really like the prices, I think they’re a bit high. So I won’t be downloading too much. I heard that the prices will be increasing. I hope that’s not true.

I’m also ticked that the 360 will be getting some exclusive songs, including Sprode by Freezepop. I love Freezepop. I hope us PS3 gamers get some love from Harmonix too.


I just can’t get the hang of the kick drum. It was true at my friend’s place on the 360, and it’s true at my place on my PS3. I tried yesterday to start a career in medium mode on drums. I was doing fine until the song Seven came along, which I totally bombed at. So I entered practice mode and played at 60%, then 70% speed, then 80%. It took a lot of practicing, but I was starting to get it. I thought. At 90% I could muddle my way through. But at 100% speed, I totally blew it. My mind can not wrap around the use of the kick drum. It just can’t. There are certain neural pathways that are just not connecting. I wish they had an option for turning off the use of the kick drum. Before you attack me for this, remember that this is a game first, for your own personal enjoyment, and that I asked for the option. It’s not a drum instructor, though that may be a side product.

And speaking of wishes, I also wish Rock Band had a free style option to let you just play the drums as if it were a drumkit.


Normally I’d give a game like this something like a 9.5 out of 10. But because of the guitar problems, the lack of a controller option, the frustrating drumkit, and the over-priced songs, the game will get a 7.5 from me.