Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Rock Band: Unplugged" Demo Impressions

So, a lot of you long-time listeners of the podcast might know that I'm a HUGE fan of Rock Band. That's not to say the others don't enjoy Rock Band either, but I tend to stay up-to date with what the latest DLC is and I post on the official forums every now and then, too. So, when Rock Band: Unplugged was announced, I was thinking it was gonna be a lot like Guitar Hero: On Tour for the DS, gimmicky and stupid. Well, that's partly true... but it's not like Harmonix didn't try.

I got my hands on the demo from the Playstations store, and the game is played much differently from the console versions of Rock Band. It's played a lot more like Harmonix's earlier titles such as Frequency or Amplitude. There's 4 different tracks, one for guitar, one for bass, one for drums and one for vocals. On each track, there's 4 colored "notes" that you hit using left, up, triangle, and circle and to switch between the tracks, you use the L and R bumpers. This works pretty well for me, but they do have a few different preset options for some people who might have some trouble, as well as being able to set up your own custom controls.

Now, instead of picking an instrument and playing a track, you play all of the instruments at once! In order to do this, you play a section in one track perfectly and it locks itself in, then plays by itself for a little bit. While it's playing by itself, you can switch to another track and play a section there, lock that track in, rinse, repeat. The hit detection on the notes is fine, and I can play stuff pretty well, usually... but they expect you to play perfectly! The real problem with the game is that it's too easy to fail, miss one note in a section and you have to wait for the next section to come up, meanwhile, another track has stopped autoplaying itself, and you're still on a different track, trying to get it to autoplay itself. so you're missing four times the notes if you keep missing track sections.

The game does have a no fail mode in the extras menu, but turning that on takes all the fun out of the game, because there's no challenge. It'd be nice if the game had a balance between the two, because as it is currently, it's either play perfectly, or don't play at all. The game is a multitasking nightmare, and I'd only recommend it to people who are REALLY good at rhythm games.

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