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Rock Band

Rock Band

Rock Band

Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions were released in the North America on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was released on December 18, 2007 with the Wii version being released on June 22, 2008. The Xbox 360 version was released in Europe on May 23, 2008 while the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and Wii versions were released on September 12, 2008. All four ports of the game were released in Australia on November 7, 2008. The game was to be released in Japan and to be developed by Q Entertainment but it was canceled.

Rock Band allows up to four players to simulate the performance of popular rock music songs by playing with controllers modeled after musical instruments. Players can play the lead guitar, bass guitar, and drums parts to songs with "instrument controllers", as well as sing through a USB microphone. Players are scored on their ability to match scrolling musical "notes" while playing instruments, or by their ability to match the singer's pitch on vocals. Players with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions can interact through both online and offline multiplayer capabilities. In addition to the 58 core songs included on the game disc, over 2,000 downloadable songs were released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.

At launch, the game software was made available in a bundle that packaged it together with the instrument peripherals, as well as for purchase separately. Individual instrument peripherals were released at a later date. The game has received widespread critical acclaim, with sales of four million units and global revenues of $600 million. Players have made over 100 million downloadable song purchases since Rock Band's release. The game's success prompted the release of five sequels: Rock Band 2, The Beatles: Rock Band, Lego Rock Band, Green Day: Rock Band, and Rock Band 3.

Rock Band Gameplay

Reusing many gameplay elements from the Guitar Hero series, Rock Band players use peripherals modeled after musical instruments to simulate the performance of rock music. Players use these instruments by playing scrolling musical "notes" on-screen in time with the music. Rock Band expands upon the Guitar Hero series, in that it offers gameplay for drums and vocals, in addition to lead and bass guitar.

Rock Band's gameplay and on-screen interface uses a combination of elements from Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution. Rock Band has up to three tracks of vertically scrolling colored music notes, one section each for lead guitar, drums, and bass. The colored notes on-screen correspond to buttons on the guitar and drum peripherals. For lead and bass guitar, players play their notes by holding down colored fret buttons on the guitar peripheral and pushing the controller's strum bar; for drums, players must strike the matching colored drumhead, or step on the pedal to simulate playing bass drum notes. Along the top of the screen is the vocals display, which scrolls horizontally, similar to Karaoke Revolution. The lyrics display beneath green bars, which represent the pitch of the individual vocal elements. When singing vocals, the player must sing in relative pitch to the original vocals. A pitch indicator displays the singer's accuracy relative to the original pitch. The remainder of the screen is used to display the band's virtual characters as they perform in concert.

During cooperative play as a band, all players earn points towards a common score, though score multipliers and "Overdrive" are tracked separately for each player. Overdrive is collected during select portions of a song by successfully playing all white notes within that section (or by using the guitar controller's whammy bar during white sustained notes). Once the Energy Meter is filled halfway, players can deploy their Overdrive, resulting in the "Band Meter" (which tracks how well each player is doing) changing more dramatically. This allows players to strategically use Overdrive to raise the Band Meter and pass portions of a song they otherwise might have failed. Overdrive can be used to activate score multipliers, which vary based on a player's note streak. Players can deploy Overdrive independently of each other, as well as collect additional Overdrive while it is deployed and draining.

Each band member can choose the difficulty at which they play (spanning Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert). If a player does not play well enough and falls to the bottom of the Band Meter, they will fail out of the song and their instrument will be muted from the audio mix. However, any active player can activate their Overdrive to bring failed players back into the song, "saving" the band member. However, a band member can only be saved twice; after the third failure, they cannot be brought back for that song. Failed players continuously drag the band's Band Meter down until they are saved. If the player is not saved before the Band Meter reaches the bottom, the band fails the song. Players can earn Overdrive bonuses from "Unison Phrases" and extra points from a "Big Rock Ending."

Unlike the PlayStation 2 and Wii version, players with the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions can create and customize their own in-game character, complete with adjustable hair, body physique, clothing, tattoos, onstage movements, and instruments. Each character is permanently locked into a specific instrument. Using cash earned within the game, the player may purchase items at the in-game "Rock Shop," with which they can customize their rock star. The game features an art maker where players can combine different clip art elements to create custom face paint, tattoos, clothing designs, instrument artwork, and band logos.

Prior to release, EA CEO John Riccitielo remarked that the company would not be able to meet the high demand for Rock Band in the 2007 holiday season, stating, "We're not going to be able to put enough inventory to meet demand in North America or Europe this calendar year or this fiscal ." This prompted many retailers to limit the number of preorders they sold before the game was released.

Official Xbox Magazine published the first review of Rock Band, scoring the Xbox 360 version a 9.5/10 and calling it "gaming's most intensely rewarding co-op experience." OXM also commented that the game's "payoff isn't visceral or technical; it's emotional." IGN awarded the game a 9.4/10 score and an Editor's Choice Award for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. IGN largely praised the game, calling it "one of the must-have games of the year" and suggesting it "may just be among the best party games ever released." 1UP.com gave the next-generation versions of the game an A, stating that "Rock Band unquestionably, unequivocally rocks." GameSpot rated the next-generation versions of the game a 9.0/10, calling Rock Band "one of the best party games of all time." They also gave the game their Editor's Choice award. The Xbox 360 version of Rock Band has an average critic score of 92%, according to Metacritic, tying it for the 11th highest scored Xbox 360 game to date, as of October 2008. Similarly, the PlayStation 3 version of Rock Band has an average critic score of 92% on Metacritic, making it the 7th highest scored PlayStation 3 game to date, as of November 2008.

Most critics have commended the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Rock Band for the game's group gameplay, the depth of Band World Tour mode, and the introduction of a drum peripheral. Common complaints about the game focus on the different feel of the packaged Fender Stratocaster controller, as well as the game's Solo Tour modes not being as enjoyable as the multiplayer offerings. IGN's video review lamented the lack of a single player Band World Tour mode.

The PlayStation 2 version of the game was well received, but was subject to criticism for the omission of the character customization features, as well as the stripped-down Band World Tour mode. GameSpot rated it an 8.0/10, stating that "Rock Band is still a lot of fun on the PS2—it's just nowhere near the ideal version of the experience." IGN.com rated it an 8.4/10, noting that the removed features made the game feel like a "lessened" version, but that the game still "succeeds because it's infinitely fun to play with your friends."

Reviews for the Wii version of Rock Band also criticize the lack of features compared to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. The Wii version is basically the same as its PlayStation 2 counterpart, but IGN criticized it for its late release and their effort in completing a full game. However, IGN notes that the drum controller is an improvement over the original version, stating, "The pads are quieter and the kick pedal will withstand more abuse."

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