While the Rock Band franchise made some strong iteration between the first and third versions of the game (with a couple stopovers to visit Green Day and The Beatles) the rhythm game had lost much of its luster as the last generation of consoles came to an end. Now Rock Band is back with the new generation and anybody who remembers those nights of jamming with friends fondly will need to pick this title up soon.
What’s Old Is New Again
If you’re like me, and you invested a solid sum of cash with Harmonix over the years. For that, you ended up with a collection of plastic instruments and a fairly expansive musical catalog. The first thing that Harmonix did to reward, or at least not punish those fans was to make much of what you spent money on still useful. Instruments from the Xbox 360 or PS3 will work within the same console family. My original Rock Band experience took place on the Xbox 360 which means I played the game on the Xbox One. In order to use my old instruments, it required a USB adapter for communication. Setting up the old instruments was simple. The adapter powered on as soon as I plugged it in and holding down the sync buttons brought the drums and guitar online in an instant.
In addition a good portion of the existing DLC transfers over as well. While the in game store is user friendly and could easily tell the difference between a song you’d downloaded, a song you purchased but had not downloaded, or a song you did not own, in order to get all your old music on your new console you have to go in and find each song in the list and download it. If you had a lot of music, that takes time. There’s a lot of old DLC that is not currently available and while Harmonix has said that more will be available over time there’s no timeline for that to happen. The most important thing about all of this DLC is that it has been updated to include new Rock Band 4 features. More on that later.
The game has three basic play modes. Quickplay is for when you want to get right to a song. You can also go On Tour, which the game’s career mode where you play to build money and fans, which you can use to unlock clothes for your in game avatar. Finally you can Play A Show. This is essentially party mode that allows you to play or song, then continue to play by having the band members vote on what they want to do next. It might give you an option of a specific song, or a type of song, adding some chance and variability into the mix.
Rock Band has gone a long way to give the players more freedom in how they play Rock Band. Each instrument gives you the ability to choose how you want to play. Vocals allow for free styling, where you can change up your singing style as long as you stay on key. (Note: not all legacy DLC allows for this). The new guitar solo also gives you the ability to create your solo rather than play the one provided. New drum fills give you the ability to play drum solos dynamically so you’re not playing the same part every time.
If Rock Band has never been your thing it likely won’t be now, but Rock Band 4 adds enough new to the mix that old fans will be glad to see their old band mates again.