Rock Band 4 – A New Era of Rhythm Gaming

Plastic instruments around the world have been slowly working their way into people’s garages and lofts for the last couple of years, ever since the great rhythm game boom slowly died off and became stagnant. It was a great time, I owned many of the games and practically had an orchestra’s worth of pretend instruments, which saw hundreds of hours of usage between me and my friends when we were having house parties, or just kicking back with a few beers.

Now it seems those good times of jamming with your friends are back, for what feels like something of a reunion tour and hopefully not the last one. Harmonix is back with Rock Band 4, with new songs, new instruments and given the few years it has been since the last one, a new audience to entice into the rhythm game market.

There’s a notable omission from the game this time around, however, as there is a lack of online multiplayer, which is a big issue for those who live far from their friends. On the plus side, this game is locked and loaded for local co-op gaming, allowing you and your friends to play drums and guitars, as well as sing vocals. Whether or not online multiplayer being missing is a deal breaker for you will vary, but for me, it’s not a feature I would be using. The game is missing a few small features, but all that could change in the near future, as Harmonix has made it no secret that they’re using the base game as a content platform, with new features, songs and who knows what else coming through various updates, with several in the works already.

Setting up the instruments is easy enough, as they’re all intuitive as far as where all the components go and as a bonus, you’ll find batteries included, as all instruments bar the microphone are wireless. The drum controller has been massively updated, although it still keeps the look and shape you’ll be familiar with. It’s more responsive, durable and from what I can tell, a little quieter too! The pads are velocity sensitive, the kick pedal is durable and has a responsive spring that makes it feel natural and as a nice bonus, the included sticks are of a very nice quality; they’ll feel right at home in the hands of anyone who’s played a real drum kit.

The guitar looks stunning, a Stratocaster copy with dual neck buttons. The first five at the top of the neck, the rest above the 12th fret area for some solo and tapping action; if you’re feeling adept enough. I’ve been a Guitar Hero veteran for years and I can still hear the squeaky and clicky strum bar in my nightmares. Those days are gone, the MadCatz guitar is super quiet, and the buttons have a really nice action that’s forgiving for those who don’t hit them dead-center. Put simply, the partnership between Harmonix and MadCatz has paid off really well, as the instruments are the best this sector of the market has ever seen and they’re an absolute joy to use.

Gameplay on Rock Band 4 is right where you would expect it to be, somehow everything is new and tweaked, but at the core, it still feels like the same old game. This is a good thing and a bad thing, those looking for a new dynamic will like the new improvisation sections, but at the end of it all, it’s the same core game we came to know and love in the past. The song selection is quite diverse, offering everything from System of a Down to Uptown Funk (like we’ve not had enough of that one already), but there’s enough in there for the music lovers and the karaoke addicts to blunder their way through and keep people entertained. Of course, there’s also a huge library of legacy songs, as well as DLC tracks that are already coming thick and fast, so there’s going to be no shortage to stuff to play anytime soon.

View the complete song list here and view the complete list of legacy song here

The main “quest” if you will is entertaining enough to warrant a play through, but doesn’t span the difficulty levels as well as previous games in the series. On the plus side, you can swap instruments and even difficulty levels mid-song, meaning you’re less inclined to quit the song when things go wrong. The higher difficulties are a hell of a challenge and a lot of fun, but those wanting something more authentic can invest in the Pro Cymbal kit which launches later this year, as this will unlock Pro mode for the drums.

What this game really lacks though it big hitting tracks, sure there are a few great bands, but they’re not usually the “hits” of their respective albums. This is likely due to most of the best songs being done already with previous entries in the series, but it’s still no excuse. The DLC and more so the legacy library does patch that up nicely, but there’s still no excuses for having two U2 songs here by any measure.

Overall, great fun, incredible new instruments and a good selection of fun to play tracks to get you started. It doesn’t feel as fresh as I was hoping, but with more songs on the way, the drum cymbal add-on now available for pre-order and the promise of plenty of updates to the core game, this is still the best entry in the Rock Band franchise to date and it’s going to be a big contender this holiday season. If you’re looking to get back into rhythm gaming, you’ll not find anything better.

Rock Band 4 – Band in a Box comes with the guitar, microphone, drums and the game for $249.99, while the Triple Cymbal Expansion Kit will set you back an additional $49.99. The standalone game with the guitar is just $129.99. In the UK, the Band in a Box is £219.99, the Guitar and game is £109.99 and the drum cymbals are £39.99.

Pros

  • Exceptional quality instruments
  • All songs available to play without completing main quest
  • Drop in – drop out gameplay
  • Good range of musical styles available
  • Huge DLC library
  • Expandable drum kit
  • Virtually silent guitar

Cons

  • No online multiplay

Neutral

  • Drums expansion kit not available at launch
  • DLC prices can quickly add up to a small fortune, but with licencing rights, this is understandable
  • Not as many big hits in the base game as previous entries in the series

“Rock Band 4 is the best entry in the series so far, with the best instruments ever to bless rhythm gaming and a huge library of songs available to choose from. If you’re looking for the ultimate party game, this is it!”

 

 

Rock Band 4 Launches Today With Over 1700 Songs Available

Today is the day a lot of people have been looking forward to, I am sure of that. Today is the day that the brand new Rock Band 4 is being released and it looks like it easily could be the best in the series yet. Harmonix and Mad Catz have both been hard at work on this release where Harmonix has created the game and Mad Catz the hardware to go along with it as well as the physical distribution.

Rock Band 4 will be available today, October the 6th, for both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and there will be more than 1700 songs available upon launch. That’s a lot of songs to master. Available products on launch day include the Rock Band 4 video game, stand-alone software, Band-in-a-Box Bundle, and Wireless Fender Stratocaster Guitar Bundle. The Fender bundle will probably be the most popular one, at least that’s my prediction.

Through the Rock Band Music Store, more than 1700 songs will be available on day one. This includes tracks from the series’ incredible back catalog of music but fully updated to include the new gameplay features in Rock Band 4. Players can rock to these tracks and enjoy new Freestyle Guitar Solos, Freestyle Vocals, and Dynamic Drums Fills, even while touring the world with their band in the game’s new expanded campaign.

One of the downsides is that you have to purchase a lot of the songs from the store at a price of $1.99 each, but there is also good news for those who previously played Rock Band in the previous versions. If you already owned a song there and you stay on the same platform, PlayStation or Xbox, then you’ll be able to get those songs again for no additional cost.

Some of the new Tracks available:

  • All That Remains – “Divide”
  • All That Remains – “What If I Was Nothing”
  • BABYMETAL – “Gimme Chocolate!!”
  • Blitz Kids – “Run For Cover”
  • Bring Me The Horizon – “Throne”
  • Dead Sara – “Mona Lisa”
  • Duran Duran – “The Reflex”
  • Earth, Wind & Fire – “September”
  • Interpol – “All The Rage Back Home”
  • Janis Joplin – “Move Over”
  • Jefferson Starship – “Jane”
  • Linkin Park ft. Daron Malakian – “Rebellion”
  • Marilyn Manson – “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles”
  • Mastodon – “High Road”
  • My Morning Jacket – “One Big Holiday”
  • Of Mice & Men – “Would You Still Be There”
  • Oh Honey – “Sugar, You”
  • Pantera – “Cowboys From Hell (Live From Monsters In Moscow Festival)”
  • Pierce the Veil ft. Kellin Quinn – “King for a Day”
  • Seasick Steve – “Summertime Boy”
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic – “My Own Eyes”
  • The Wild Feathers – “Backwoods Company”

Van Halen “Jump” Into Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4’s music library includes a wealth of iconic artists including Aerosmith, Avenged Sevenfold, The Black Keys, Elvis Presley, Fall Out Boy, Foo Fighters, Jack White, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, St. Vincent, Queens of the Stone Age, The Who, and for the first time, Van Halen! On launch, fans will be able to rock out to Van Halen’s legendary hit track, “Panama” with more songs to come in the future. According to the Harmonix’s CEO, Steve Janiak,

“For years we’ve wanted to bring Van Halen’s music to Rock Band,”

“Not only are the songs incredible in their own right, but they’re amazingly fun to play and perform, whether you’re on guitar, bass, drums, or vocals.”

In terms of gameplay, Rock Band 4 maintains the quintessential full-band experience whilst adding Freestyle Guitar solos. Also, there will be in excess of 1500 downloadable tracks on the Rock Band Music Store. With such an extensive library, there should something to suit your style. I’m pleased to see the resurgence of music-based games but I prefer Rocksmith because the software is built around learning a proper instrument. Nevertheless, Guitar Hero and Rock Band are exceptionally fun at parties.

Rock Band 4 is scheduled for release on October 6th and will be available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Please note, launch hardware might be limited so pre-orders are highly recommended.

Twitch Streamer Uses Xbox Rock Band Guitar on Bloodborn

What do you get when you mix a Xbox 360 Rock Band 1 Guitar controller with a PS4 version of Bloodborne? Well, a bit of a headache getting it to work at first, but eventually an epic ‘Guitarborne’ gameplay video, as Twitch streamer bearzly names it.

It looks like the guy really has some crazy ideas up his sleeves, but at the same time, they are most entertaining to watch. Also, the Guitarborne stream is not his first, according to his Twitch profile. He has performed many ‘terrible controllers’ runs of different games, but mostly Dark Souls, as he states he is a huge fan of the Souls series.

Aside from his latest Guitarborne video, he appears to have made a Drum Borne (drum controller), piano controller, one finger, Wiimote & Nunchucks and Bongo Souls (bongo controller) videos. Other videos he has in the planning stages include controllers such as the DDR Pad, Maracas, Katana, N64, SNES, Powerglove and Kinect.

Twitch users can also suggest him other crazy controllers and have him try to make an epic video out of them. At present, the hardest controller he used to play on and stream with is the piano Rock Band 3 controller, experiencing a lot of problems with running straight on the thing. Still, the videos are epic!

Watch some of his videos, including the Guitarborne one, below:

If you want to watch more of his videos, head on over to his Twitch profile. What do you think? Have any crazy controller ideas in mind?

Image courtesy of IGN