Combining a Legacy
Guitar Hero came and took everyone by surprise a couple of years ago and the success of the series had many people taking notice. Maybe it was inevitable that the success of the series would result in the cataclysmic split between Red Octane and Harmonix Music Systems but the separation resulted in something special for video game fans of the music genre. Red Octane pairing with Activision released the third iteration of Guitar Hero, with developer Neversoft taking the helm, and to no one's surprise Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock sold like lemonade on a hot day. Now Harmonix, partnered with MTV Games, has unleashed their newest creation, Rock Band, and it reaches for the stars. Fortunately for gamers, Rock Band reaches, touches, and puts those stars into overdrive. Combing the tried and true formulas of previous Harmonix games, Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution, with a brand new drum component, Rock Bandís scope is massive and after playing the game you will truly feel like a rock god.
Unboxing the Rock
The first thing you need to do is unbox the monstrosity that is the instruments. Included in the special edition (which is the only way to get the drums until February) is a microphone, Fender Stratocaster guitar controller and the drum kit. The microphone is your standard USB mic, it has some weight to it and the cord is plenty long, allowing for a lot of movement. The lack of a microphone stand is disappointing and I suggest getting a straight mic stand and mic clip from your local music shop. It really will add to the overall experience and allow you to both sing and play guitar.
The guitar controller will look both familiar and strangely new to Guitar Hero veterans. The first thing you will notice about the Fender Stratocaster controller is that it is bigger, resembling the size of a real guitar somewhat better than the Guitar Hero models. Upon first glance you might think that you received a defective unit as the fret buttons are not colored on the face of the button but rather on the sides. You will also notice that there are five additional fret buttons at the base of the neck. These frets are smaller and donít need to be used. Another new change is the addition of the effects toggle. The little toggle is featured under the strum bar and offers a variety of different effects; however, in the heat of a full song, I doubt you will think to actually use it. The only other real change to the guitar is that the strum bar itself doesnít make the noticeable click-clack noise that the Guitar Hero controllers do. The Fender controller is a better all around controller than the Gibson Xplorer controller used in Guitar Hero II but in the end the Guitar Hero III, Gibson Les Paul controller is the best controller and if you have one of those you will want to use it.
The other piece of hardware included in the box is the drum kit and it will more than likely be the center of attention at parties as everyone generally thinks they can be a drummer. There will be some assembly required with the drum kit, although those that donít know a hammer from a wrench need not worry. Everything snaps together and while you might feel that it wonít hold up to the beating you plan on delivering it, I assure you that it will, as this kit is very sturdy. The kit entails real wood Ludwig drum sticks, four pads, and the kick pedal. Reports have been made that the kick pedal is rather flimsy and has snapped off in a few cases, in my time with the drums it never felt flimsy and looks like it should hold up to most abuse. However, you may want to tell your lead footed friend he doesnít need to stomp on it to get it to register.
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