Yeah, I’m really, really, really behind the times, in many respects, but that’s okay. I’m getting caught up.
As part of this, I’m finally getting caught up on my rhythem games. I missed out almost entirely on the DDR craze, and I never played Guitar Hero 1 and 2 when they came out – but finally, after Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour have come out, I’ve played Guitar Hero 3 (and Rock Band 1). So, now for the ultimate question – what do I think of them?
Just as a disclaimer, I have not beaten either game on normal. I have beaten career mode on both games on Easy. I do get into my reasons for that in my review, but I wanted to give a heads up on that first. I am counting DLC (Downloadable Content) in my criteria for each game, but I haven’t bought much of it – I have bought some though.
Guitar Hero 3
You are the lead guitarist of an unknown rock band. You proceed through a series of gigs, getting prospectively more and more prestigious, until your manager tries to book the band for a really, really, really lame gig (Dancing With The Stars), and you try to get out of the contract – only to find he’s Satan himself, and your contract also had you signing over your soul!
The note charts are generally okay, though I did have some difficulty moving up from easy to normal, but I was kind of able to adjust. The song selection is okay. I do like a lot that I don’t have to beat every song in each difficulty to proceed to the encore and the next performance. That way, if there’s one song that really throws me off, I can still continue.
Also, you can unlock all the songs at any difficulty. If you just can’t cut it on normal, but can do alright on easy, you can still get to the good stuff at the end of the game.
The Guitar Battles are really a toss-up. I beat the final boss, The Devil, in one try, and Slash in about 1 minute 30 seconds, but it took me 3 tries to beat the first boss, Tom Morello. All the strategy to it is making sure to get the power ups, and then making sure that when you hit them, your opponent is playing notes. Other than that, it’s just a matter of hitting power-ups first.
There aren’t a lot of original masters on here, they’re there, but there aren’t a lot of them. The covers themselves aren’t terribly bad (I’ve heard worse), but they’re not great either. For all the faults that I will lay at the feet of Rock Band – the covers there are the minority, not the majority. It doesn’t help that there are a lot of covers on the DLC as well. This apparently has been rectified fro Guitar Hero: World Tour though – but I haven’t played that one yet.
Note: I’ve played with both vocals and guitar. I have not played with with drums.
You and your friend form a fictitious rock band (or if you have no friends to play Rock Band with, you go on a solo career and travel the “world” playing songs at various snazzier and snazzier concert venues.
As mentioned under Guitar Hero 3, most of the tracks in this game come from Original Masters. There are a few exceptions, but otherwise it’s all original masters. Just about all of the DLC is original masters as well. I also discovered a few bands I hadn’t heard of before by playing this game (such as Bang Camaro and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
While on vocals, I had some difficulty getting the right notes they were asking for on vocals. I’m not sure what I was doing wrong. Also, triggering superstar mode while on vocals feels slightly wrong – you trigger it by doing a hard vocal note, like “Yeah!” – which doesn’t work when you’re doing a softer song like “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer or “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
This game hates you personally. Unlike Guitar Hero 3, you can’t unlock all the songs on Easy, you have to go through on normal. Unlike Guitar Hero 3, you have to beat every song in each set to beat the set. Unlike Guitar Hero 3, there is no “No Fail” mode. Further, while there is an “unlock all songs” cheat – when you enter it, it disables saving, so if you get stuck on a single song in one set, and you want to get to a song after it, you have to enter that cheat Every. Single. Time. Guess who has two thumbs and had that happen to him? *points to self* Hey, Stone Temple Pilots, bite me!
From what I heard, Rock Band 2 has a No Fail Mode, though I don’t know if it works on Career Mode or not – I heard that it doesn’t. As it is, if you import the songs of the Rock Band disk, you get songs that you haven’t unlocked anyway.
The Overall Verdict
Get Rock Band. While feature wise it’s inferior to Guitar Hero 3, you have more play options and better DLC – and you can import most of the tracks on the disk to Rock Band 2.