Cease to resist going to Best Buy

No hay bandaI really had no interest in getting Rock Band (warning: site has noise, and changes your browser window size). I skipped the last two releases of Guitar Hero, since the songs past medium difficulty stopped being fun for me. With Rock Band, at the time all the cool kids were getting it, it was impossible for me to find a copy. At this point it’s too late, especially since I keep hearing how it’s all about the multiplayer, and I know a few people who’ve already got a set (and are welcome to invite me to come play it, now that I’m not working so much).

But then, something happens when you’re in a Best Buy with a $100 gift certificate left over from Christmas, and they have a now-long-neglected set hooked up, ready to play “Wave of Mutilation.”

It wasn’t quite the bone-shattering awesomeness of playing “More than a Feeling” in Guitar Hero for the first time, but it did remind exactly why I liked Guitar Hero in the first place.

My first impression, after playing through on Easy (gotta get used to the new axe, after all): the solo game is just a really highly-polished, well-done Guitar Hero, if they’d sacrificed the quality of GH1’s set list in favor of having more original recordings instead of covers. Everything looks really sharp and professional — kind of like, oh, a company that’s seen what a monstrous amount of money you can make from having the first true crossover videogame hit, and that it’s really actually feasible to build a whole platform out of a game franchise.

The guitar is much nicer than the original GH one — it’s still clearly a plastic toy guitar, but it feels significantly less silly. So far it seems less responsive both to quick strumming and to tilting the neck up for overdrive mode, but I’m guessing I’m just not used to it.

The drums are loud and humiliating, which have kept me from spending much time on them. If it were possible to hear the song’s drumming over my own, it’d be worth suffering the constant reminder that I have no rhythm. But since the only reward seems to be hearing tokkatokkatokka somewhat in relation to a song that’s playing on the TV, while the bar goes down and the crowd starts booing, I’ve relegated it to the back burner for now.

The microphone went immediately into a cabinet, likely never to be seen again.

The online stuff is really well-integrated (I got the Xbox 360 version), and by the looks of it, they’ve done a phenomenal job with the downloadable content. Charging two bucks a song is a little on the high side, but that’s outweighed by the sheer number of songs available, and their commitment to keep a steady flow of songs coming.

And I’ve got to say the ending credits are awesome; the first time in recent memory I’ve willingly sat through the credits of a videogame.

So that’s my late-to-the-party impressions: it seems to me that they did the best possible job of making the game. The only reason you could have for not liking it, is if you don’t like this type of game anymore. I’m waiting to see if I do. The one thing that everybody seems to agree on is that this is the ultimate party game: playing it with other people is a completely different experience, and it’s what the game was designed for. I’m impressed enough with the polish on the solo version, so I’m ready to be convinced.