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    Review: Rock Band Hardware
    Wednesday, 30 July 2008
    Right the big contender to the Guitar Hero crown is here! Under the name of Rock Band, it offers everything Guitar Hero has up to this point offered but with the additional two band members being added into the fray with a possible 4th.

    In my possession is the PS3 version of the package which comes with a wireless guitar, wired drum set and a wired USB base microphone. The key differences between this and the XBOX360 package which not many people will know is that you do not get a wireless guitar with their package unlike the PS3. On the upside the 360 version does come with a USB hub included so you can have enough USB ports to plug everything up and still have room for other things. The first niggle about the PS3 version is that it does NOT come with a USB hub so for anyone who owns a 40GB PS3 like me then you would not have enough USB ports to have all three peripherals plugged in at the same time.

    Right so onto the instruments...

    Rock Band Guitar

    The first thing you noticed that is different is that the guitar as pictured though despite being a clarified toy does not look too much like one (unlike the guitar hero ones with the big coloured buttons for all to see).

    The head of the guitar comes with plastic knobs which resemble the tuning cogs in a real guitar; this adds a lot of realism to this little guitar where in the case of guitar hero it is slightly bumped using the same colour as the head so it is barely noticeable.

    As mentioned previously before you cannot see coloured buttons but upon closer inspection you see that the edges of the neck are coloured. This allows the player to see the colour of the button without it spoiling the illusion that you are playing a “real” guitar to anyone else watching you. At the base of the neck there is another five buttons which are identical in colour but small in terms of the width. These buttons are used for certain sections of the song which requires a solo. It provides a physical and visual impression that you are actually hammering on and hitting the high notes which many solos are so fond of having.

    One comment I have to make about the buttons after logging in excess of fifty ish hours on both the guitar hero wii and rock band guitar is that the rock band buttons do feel more “sticky” in the sense that it takes longer to pop back up. This is more of an observational thing rather than a thing which affects game play.

    The strummer bar has be vastly improved over their guitar hero counterpart, where the guitar hero version would give me a massive click on a strum up or down the rock band one is silenced and without actually opening up I would not know how it works but trust me its near silent compared to the former.

    With both guitars there is the presence of a whammy bar which provides you and your friends with hilarious “wah wah wah wah” sounds during the longer notes but that is where the similarity ends. The Rock Band guitar has a flicker switch which allows you to switch the effect star powers, it includes echo, none, wah wah and two other ones I cant remember. This allows you to add effects which make the song sounds better during star power which was often a problem with guitar hero where I would find one of my friends refusing to use the whammy bar because it “ruins the song”. At least here we can match it.

    One final note with the guitar is that the buttons placed next to the bar is poorly done so. I have often found whilst using the bar that it would go back into the guitar to the point where my fingers would hit the start button by accident but if you are careful and not OTT it shouldn’t happen.

    Rock Band Drums

    Right here is the defining aspect in the music simulator experience; the drums! Consisting of 4 pads and a bass pedal where he three left most pads are various drums and the right most one is the cymbal. Between the two centre drums is a D-pad and button configuration which various based on what system you get it for. As the self-appointed drummer in the experience I have had a lot of play time with the set and what I have found as noteworthy point number one is that when you hit the pads they are extremely LOUD! Hit at medium strength it gives you large CLUNK sound due to the vibration of the wooden included drums sticks and the plastic hollow esque drum pad.

    This problem IMO ruins the experience of rock band where the other players of the game would not be able to enjoy the song and get immersed into their own parts because they are constantly being haunted by the clunking of the drummer in the back. Whilst it could be quickly solved by putting a bath tower over it, it isn’t a long lasting fix as it found that the tower falls off whilst playing the hectic songs. This problem can be solved easily by say buying quietening pads from ebay for like a tenner but in my situation I just cut up some free mouse mats and stuck it on with some double sided tape (at least till the rubber gum pads I order arrive).
    The next point is the bass pedal which goes on the bottom of the set. During play it is extremely responsive especially for double or triple bass notes but the entire pedal structure is extremely light and when you release the pedal really fast it sort of launches itself up.

    Now here is the major gripe when it comes to the pedal... THE INFAMOUS SNAPPED PEDAL!
    I have experienced that problem recently today and kit has happened to countless other people where even with normal play the pedal would snap. The problem is the way to play real drums is to press the pedal down with the ball of your foot, the way the rock band pedal is build is so that it does NOT support pressure that far up the pedal.
    To be honest harmonix should have seen this happening, it is really begger’s belief that it had not been picked up by any of the testers of the game.

    Rock Band Microphone

    Nothing special just a normal standard USB microphone with plenty of cable and a weighty base. Can be a bit quiet on some songs though.

    To summarise, Bass pedal = :(, Guitar Strumming = quieter, Drums = too loud but overall very good implementation harmonix .

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    posted by AeroScap @ 22:54  
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