Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm coming for you, Charlie Watts! (AKA, yes, we just got Rock Band.)

Deprived of football this past weekend, the husband and I resorted to a more traditional form of entertainment similar to that enjoyed by the pilgrims so many years ago: we rocked the house with Rock Band for the Xbox 360. Yup, after selling back 49 games, searching the couch for loose change and prostituting the cat, we were able to purchase this grand entertainment and engage in our long-held fantasy of being Meg and Jack White – but without the fake sibling part because that would be super weird.

Let me just get straight to the point here and say, this is a fabulous game. The fact that it allows you to play drums, guitar, bass or sing ensures limitless possibilities that I’m guessing will stave off game boredom for months and months. There’s nothing worse than mastering a game within a few hours (not that I’ve ever done that but I’ve heard stories) and having nowhere else to go with the experience. There is so much variety involved in playing this game – and so many songs, touring options, challenges and more – to take part in that it is well worth the rather hefty price tag. It has great multiplayer options and still allows you to have a ball going solo.

And best of all, for the non-musically inclined like myself, it is the closest we’re ever going to get to feeling competent with an instrument. One of my secret lifelong dreams was to drum, a dream that was dashed into a million pieces when I discovered I didn’t even have the rhythm necessary to keep my heart beating in perfect time. (I feel it lags on the quarter notes.) But joy of joys, Rock Band solves that problem with an easy-to-follow color-coding system that’s very similar to Guitar Hero and other music/rhythm games. Truly, when I was grooving on Gimme Shelter, I had visions of kicking Charlie Watts’ ass in a drum-off. He’d just have to agree to play on Easy.

The game is great, too, for duos or larger groups of people. Of course, we never have people over so I can’t truly attest to that last part, but for two people who are social shut-ins, it was awesome. We took turns playing guitar, bass and drums. And the cool part is that if someone starts bombing on their part, the other person can “save” their partner by kicking their own performance into higher gear.

So far, there are really only a few downsides to the game. First, on occasion, the instrument connections will randomly fail when starting up the system. It never happened during gameplay, but it did make getting set up kind of irritating. Also, you really need to be hooked up to Xbox Live to get the full effect of the game, which is kind of a drag if you’re like us and don’t have wireless. The game also requires you to play at increasingly higher levels of difficulty in order to win fans and unlock more gigs, which can be very frustrating if you’re not a fast learner. (Raising hand here…) That caveat forced us on more than one occasion to have my husband play on Expert while I kept plodding along on Easy, just to earn points.

Overall, though, I heart this game in a true and passionate manner reminiscent of the love Oprah and Stedman once shared. It is fabulous on so many levels and is just an absolute blast to play.

One last word of advice, if you do decide to buy this game, please stretch for a good five minutes or so before sitting down to the drums. Just trust me on this one. I didn’t, and I’m hobbling around like Tom Brady today all because of a Rock Band-inflicted hamstring injury. It’s incredibly embarrassing yet totally worth it. And that, my friends, is always the sign of a good time.


qtilla said...

You could get one of those drum thrones. It will really help.

Jen said...

Ahh, Rock Band...or in my case "the game that made me feel like I was back in high school - useless and impotent."

After failing miserably, I decided my time would be better spent downloading some of the songs from ITunes and fetching beer & separating M&M into different color piles "backstage" for the next FIVE hours of play.

Anonymous said...

Goodness Liz! Fabulous stuff as usual. I'm telling ya, this is one of the best blogs out there. Consistent, engaging and side-splitting funny. I play drums and got a kick out of your jabs at Charlie Watts. Haven't gotten into the video games of late - so I'm sure you'd kick my ass at the game. I'd rather meet Charlie Watts anyway..


PS. A drum throne is nothing more than a over-priced cushiony seat for non musicians - otherwise known as drummers.

Liz said...

Wow, thank you so much, Spencer. I really appreciate your kind words. I have a lot of fun writing this stuff, and it does my heart good to know that people are getting a laugh out of it.

P.S. (to qtilla too): The husband actually plays real drums so I was using the cushiony drum throne but the bass pedal still got me. I think I'm just going to have to get in better shape. More hours at the gym is a small price to pay for more Rock Band-ing!

Liz said...

Hey, Jen, trust me, I was pretty useless and impotent playing this game, too. The husband had to use that "save the other person" gimmick quite often, but my secret drumming dreams were just too much to resist.

I'm definitely not trying the singing component unless I'm alone in the house, though. No one wants to see me pretend to be Stevie Nicks! :-)

Jessica said...

We got this game about two weeks ago, and it is AMAZING with lots of people. I live with eight other people, and we played Rock Band for five hours straight, or something along those lines. All I remember is we were rocking away and suddenly sun was streaming through the windows. Crazy.