So I’m very disappointed about something missing from Rock Band: local high scores and names. At Shoot Club, Guitar Hero was a big hit partly for the bragging rights of having the highest score on a song. You could go down the quickplay list and see the highest score and star ratings. And then you could jump into the song and try to beat it. And even if you didn’t, you might get your name up on the bathroom wall!
There’s no such thing in Rock Band, which seems like a disappointing oversight on Harmonix’ part. I guess they want to tap into Xbox Live instead of tracking local scores and names. But it’s just another way that local multiplayer – LAN, splitscreen, what have you – is being neglected to death by developers.
The bigger annoyance is how long it takes to unlock new songs in multiplayer. Took it over to our friends’ house on Thanksgiving… At first we just did the ‘free play’ multiplayer because setting up a band is such a drawn-out procedure and seems to lock a gamertag into playing a single instrument. But then we quickly got tired of the songs we knew, so we created a band. More confusion because it tied a gamertag to the wrong instrument and it wouldn’t let our band play till we logged people out and back in.
Finally got the band set up and playing and even after multiple gigs, still no new songs. If we hadn’t already done the other songs before starting the tour, it might not have been so frustrating to be stuck with the same choices for so long. It started as a hit party game, but it’s definitely geared very much towards single-player and “extended” group play. I think Harmonix totally missed the fact that a band game that supports four players together is very likely to have a “Wii” effect and be used for pick-up gaming when friends come over.
Then I found the “unlock all songs” cheat code after I got home…
It’s a great game, but it really should have a party mode that lets you access the whole song catalog without resorting to cheat codes.
(Of course, “unlockables” are my second-least-favorite game element, after save points. You have my $60, give me everything and find some other way to keep the game entertaining besides dangling new carrots at me every few levels. But that’s a personal bias.)
We ran into an interesting problem when we formed a band on Thanksgiving, which was that you have so little control over what songs you play in career mode that the singer is basically fucked. If you don’t know the song, it’s pretty tough to sing along, so our vocalist ended up sitting out a lot of songs before we got fed up, entered the unlock code, and played Quickplay for the rest of the night.
While we’re pointing out RB’s flaws…
I really don’t like when the drum fills keep coming until I use my overdrive.
I always get thrown off by them, but sometimes I want to hold onto my overdrive for a hard part I know is coming up. I don’t really want to play a drum fill every 10 seconds, so unless I know a brutal part is coming up really fast I’ll usually just blow the overdrive on something easy.
A gamertag can have any number of “characters” under it.
A “character” can only play one instrument - vocal, drums, or guitar/bass
So I have three characters in my gamertag - “Jason” the drummer, “Jay” the guitarist, and “Jace” the singer. So long as my GT is the one logged into Live on the player position that my instrument is on, I can pick the appropriate character.
Your band can be comprised of various characters from any gamertags hooked up to the box. With one exception - there is one character that is the “band leader” and has to be in the band all the time. And since that one character is stuck to one instrument, at least one of your four band members is going to always be the same character.
This is RB’s biggest flaw, to me. I put my gamertag and my three characters on a MU and brought it to Whitta’s place for his big Rock Band party (way too much fun, btw). But it’s a pain to get it all working right. When you start up the band, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to which band member is going to get which gamertag’s list of characters to choose from.
I was logged in on Player 4, a guitar, and it gave me my gamertag and guitarist character to choose from. Whitta was logged into player 1. But sometimes player 2 or 3 would be characters chosen from his tag, sometimes from mine. And would couldn’t get them to “behave”… we could never get it the way we wanted.
I can understand the band leader thing, but here’s what the game needs:
A character should be able to play any instrument.
One a band leader starts up a band career or quickplay, the other band members should be able to choose first which gamertag they want to play under (ie…which GT’s characters they want to use), and then which character.
Once you make a custom rocker, you want to be able to pick him when you switch from guitar to vocals. You can’t. And even if you make a vocalist character, you might not be able to pick him depending on which gamertag it’s going to associate the singer position with (if it’s not logged into a profile).
I have to think the band campaign wasn’t thoroughly tested in a live environment (where people would care what gamertag they were using, vs. throwaway devkit gamertags), by people who weren’t so involved in the development process that they wouldn’t understand the band leader/tag association. If it was, they’d have seen that the current setup is really crappy for group play.
It’s a great game in many ways, and I really like it for the most part, but that’s a huge flaw.
I can only assume Rock Band works in the same way, but in GH at least: Easy only uses 3 of the 5 fret buttons, Medium uses 4 of the 5, Hard uses all 5, and Expert uses all 5 and is more difficult. Generally speaking you get more notes to hit (so the speed the notes comes down speeds up, too), and single notes often change into chords.
For a particular riff on Easy, for instance, you might be hitting three notes, just to “signify” the major parts of the riff. The same thing on Expert, on the other hand, would have your hand moving up and down the frets and you’d pretty much be strumming once for every single note that you can hear.
Timing doesn’t factor into difficulty, that I’ve noticed.