The Beatles: Rock Band
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Rock Band 3 has been an addictive Odyssey in our house -- with friends and family alike. Every concert provides new opportunities to acquire fans, do vocal gymnastics, and generally strive for that elusive Pinnacle at the end of the Road: the Three-Part Harmony.
I should confess that we had, earlier, trained ourselves up for the Three-Part Pinnacle with The Beatles: Rock Band -- and it was worth the training. Seeing as we all already knew the Beatles' songs, we didn't need to concentrate on words. We could just focus on getting the hang of how to use the guitar and microphones... or, in the case of Rock Band 3, making our band look cooler than anyone else's.
Yes, I admit this is one fun part of the package: you get to Design your band. Give them a Look and a name. My kids spent ages choosing names and assigning roles to various avatars, and watched the cut-away scenes of their Dudes on the subway, making their way to or from a gig. This prompted me to wonder if they'd already lost sight of the ultimate Goal on their Odyssey. But they returned to the straight and narrow shortly, to follow the music.
The goal as a guitarist or bassist is to hit the right fret and string (really a coloured button on the neck of the guitar) at the right time. We discovered that it pays to sync up your guitar with the console so that there are no lags. If the guitar lags, for instance, you may have to anticipate the notes, which is a bit of a bore if you're trying to get into the groove.
We don't have drums or a keyboard in our house, but I gather the keyboard capability is the new addition (when released in 2010) to the Rock Band game, along with various other stuff, like enabling a Career mode, which is more interactive and allows you to build your band's Story and fan base by completing challenges (multiple gigs, customised set-lists).
On a basic level, the goal as a singer is to hit the right notes at the right times as you follow the screen prompt -- if you've ever used Garage Band, you'll see it looks similar, with a cursor tracking a path of colour (the note you're supposed to be singing) that travels along a moving stave, to keep up with the song. Second and third harmonies are added in different colours, depending on how many players you have with microphones.
Perhaps it's just about having an experience together. Enjoying the Odyssey.
Often, when we know a song, we know the main tune well, and we've never really thought about how harmonies fit in. So it's interesting to see and hear people trying to hit the harmonies as they barrel alongside the well-trod path of the Main Tune. It's not always pretty.
But the game is forgiving. I attempted to sing a couple of recent hits which involved an amount of rapping and high, fast lyrics. Needless to say it sounded pretty woeful, but I still managed to score 98% accuracy just by mumbling the right notes. Given that high scores add to your 'energy' resources, it is quite a win-win situation. Once you have enough energy, you can activate 'Overdrive', which means you have an opportunity to double your scores. Bring on a simple tune for the encore, and it's a home run.
I should say I spent a quite a few minutes trying to decide what factors need to be present in order for something to qualify as a game, before defaulting to the Twitosphere:
@libby_ol: Trying to decide if Rock Band 3 is a 'game'. @GeekDadGamer: I think it's a game as long as it creates a reaction in you via your interactions.
In the case of Rock Band 3 think it'll take a bit to convince me. Otherwise, you could call any performance or improvisation a game: neither of these is a one-way street, as they require a certain level of response from the performers.
But would you really call jamming a game? Then again, perhaps it doesn't matter what you call it: entertainment, game, or performance. Perhaps it's just about having an experience together. Enjoying the Odyssey.
Pre-selected by the Architects of Choice, but fairly diverse nonetheless.
On that note, I'd have to say the biggest plus about this experience is that it provides a forum for different generations to connect over a pretty diverse range of music (pre-selected by the Architects of Choice, of course, but fairly diverse nonetheless).
While @PartnerInCrime heads straight for the nearest Bowie, @Ms12 gravitates to more contemporary bands and, thanks to Yours Truly, we all get to experience the heady disco days of the Bee Gees... in sweet harmony.
It's a bit Brady Bunch, I know, but there's nothing wrong with a Carol Brady Odyssey once in a while.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: