Rock Band (Xbox 360)

Rock Band covershot

Yesterday I played Rock Band for fourteen hours straight. As one might guess, it was a hell of a time. We had around seven people for most of the time and the game was set up in an actual band rehearsal room in a basement. There were real bands practicing their stuff in the adjacent rooms and the atmosphere was nailed. Naturally, we were loud and I am sore.

Having played my share of music games, I didn’t really expect anything revolutionary – it’s just Guitar Hero plus SingStar plus a drum kit, right? But there is indeed something magical about four people playing together, succeeding or failing as one. Even watching others play felt like a great time, there was such an air of exceeding oneself and backing up others. Being the savior of a failed comrade by going into Overdrive when they had fallen off the track made you feel like this great person, going well beyond the simple courtesy of playing a game properly.

What really got me was the singing. This was a huge surprise for me. Revelatory, even. I have never sang publicly, apart from school choirs, gigs and the like where you don’t really stand apart. Once I got started, I could not get enough. It was just so much fun – it was fun alone, but with a crowd, phenomenal. The game’s option to mask your own sound almost entirely, overlaying it with the original vocals unless you’re singing very loud, obviously helps. But very quickly, I did not mind being heard at all. It was a lot of fun figuring out how to use your voice in the more challenging sections. (I had trouble with Rolling Stones and Iron Maiden.)

Now, I wouldn’t buy Rock Band for the kind of apartment we have. The sound just leaks through (loud speaking on the telephone is sufficient) and we have same-wall neighbors in four directions. Also, you do need a proper stereo setup and a large display certainly doesn’t hurt. I don’t see much point in playing it with the volume down, either. But we had such a great time that I find myself wondering if I could sneak into our parents’ house every once in a while. Also, we don’t have Guitar Hero at home yet and since you’re able to buy the Rock Band instruments separately, too, I do think it’s coming home anyway. Piece by piece, if need be.

But singing, goddamn. I guess shouting just gets the adrenalin going. There’s also the thing that as the singer, you get to perform a lot more than the other band members. I had so much fun posing. Hey, it just feels better that way.

PS. Regarding singing and posing: you can not rock out without a microphone stand. Get one, it is essential.

6 Comments

  1. Kai

    I hope there is documentary evidence. Damn, I need to see that.

  2. Joonas Laakso

    You know, this morning it occurred to me that I did bring a camera last night, but I never got it out to take pictures. So, sadly no.

  3. Rami L.

    Copy & Paste!

    Rock Band is an excellent experience, especially for those of us who haven’t been interested in performing with or without an audience before.

    Video games have come a long way from shaking a TAC 2 to get high scores in Winter Games. Today the seemingly introvert society voluntarily dances, plays musical instruments and sings – and they pay actual money to be able to do it.

    Lastly, I consider Rock Band to be one of the very few ways to get a Finn open up in emotional, physical and social manner.

  4. Joonas Laakso

    We do have a vibrant karaoke tradition, too. Albeit it’s alcohol-supported.

    Guitar Hero had this exact same effect. I’ve seen it win over hundreds of non-gamers at a time. Rock Band is basically the same, just at a whole new level – people recognize fun when they see it.

  5. Yes, without the mic stand it’s just bad karaoke :-)

    Too bad the game really needs all the players in the same (preferably cramped) room in order to get the full kicks. I appreciate the on-line function, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Same thing with GH3 – competing or co-operating over the net is all very fine and dandy, but the insults and jeers just don’t feel right coming from an earphone.

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