Now time for the good stuff, let’s start off with the Guitar portion of Rock Band. The new Fender guitar closely resembles the real thing especially when compared to the guitars in the Guitar Hero franchise. The guitar is much larger and looks more realistic in general. The fret buttons are much larger and easier to reach in general and one of the coolest features are located at the bottom of the neck. Here you find the solo fret buttons that are much smaller and take some time to get used to. During the solo note charts in the actual game you just tap these without having to strum. Learning these become invaluable when faced some absolutely insane solos found in the Metallica songs and in particular in Green Grass and High Tides by the Outlaws. On top of that you can use the sound effect switch to alter the sound of your whammy bar and the strum bar itself is much larger and doesn’t’ make any sort of annoying clicking noise. After using the Fender guitar for a bout 2 months I recently had to use the Guitar Hero II guitar again and I hated it, it’s much smaller and really resembles a plastic toy. Kudos to Harmonix for going that extra mile.
Now the actual guitar portion of the game is very similar to what was found in Guitar Hero after all Harmonix created that series from the ground up no need to reinvent the wheel here. Hammer-ons and pull offs are bit harder to pull off here but you can identify those particular notes as they look physically smaller on the note chart. You fill up you overdrive meter by nailing down the power notes and unleash it by tilting the neck of the guitar up. The note charts found on the expert difficulty are much easier than the expert note charts found in Guitar Hero III. In fact if you’re a seasoned veteran then it shouldn’t be hard at all. People have told me that the note charts are more realistic than those found in Guitar Hero III, don’t expect anything like Dragon Force’s Through Fires and Flame in Rock Band though.
The bass portion of this game is pretty standard fare but you are still one of the most important members of the band. The note charts aren’t too difficult and the overdrive meter is handled the same way as the lead. If you’re good enough to get into Bass groove mode your points will sky rocket. I would devote more to all the bass players out there but lets look at the new stuff for now.
Time for vocals. The song lyrics are presented at the top of screen so it doesn’t get in the way of any of the other note charts. You are presented with the exact pacing and length of each word that make up a phrase in the lyrics. As one of my close friends always says “Its just more fun to know the lyrics before you actually try to sing it” and he’s right it does make the song easier but you can still wing it. What’s even more interesting is that in general everybody is a little bit hesitant initially to sing on the mic. But over time people open up to it and you know which of your friends can really sing and those who really can’t! The mic even becomes tambourine / cow bell in some songs.
The mic itself doesn’t actually recognize the words you’re singing but it recognizes the tone of your voice. So if you’re singing an octave lower and arrow on lyrics chart will indicate you need to sing louder or lower consequently. Each song is sung in a specific way so get ready to be changing your tone quickly and often otherwise you’ll be booed of the stage quickly. You can actually hum an entire song as long as you get the tone right it’s not as fun but it is an alternative. For those looking to really test themselves, get a mic stand, strap on your bass guitar and do both at once! After all Message in a bottle by the Police should be coming as DLC content soon so now’s your chance to be just like Sting.