Rock Band Xbox 360
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Harmonix
Release Date: Out Now
In many ways it might seem a little odd that we at Deaf Gamers are reviewing Rock Band. In fact, this isn't really a review at all. Think of it as simply providing some information on a game that's sure to enjoy a large following. Naturally it's a game that almost all deaf gamers are probably not going to consider but every game that's arrived for review over the years has been reviewed and it's only right to take a look at what Rock Band has to offer, even if the game is entirely aimed at hearing gamers. There are further problems that we ran into whilst looking at the game. We've no access to either the Rock Band drums or guitars and for the purpose of this, admittedly limited look at the game; we simply used the Guitar Hero III guitar peripheral.
Unlike Guitar Hero III, a game it's impossible to avoid comparing Rock Band with, there's much more to do in Rock Band. Assuming you pay for all of the peripherals for the game, you can play the guitar, bass, drums and sing to dozens of songs from the likes of Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Deep Purple, Metallica, The Who and The Police. The game can be played as a single-player game but is best enjoyed when playing along with friends. Rock Band supports up to four-player online and offline multiplayer. Co-op play is offered too and you really see the game being something special with your friends making up the band members, rather than the AI, and playing through the tour mode.
Only having access to a compatible guitar peripheral meant that it was impossible for us to comment on what the drumming sections of the game are like to play. It also meant that it was possible to draw a direct comparison with Guitar Hero III. It should come as no surprise that both are very similar experiences, given that the developers, Harmonix, created the Guitar Hero series. There are some minor differences such as a new scoring system for solos but it's mostly a familiar experience for anyone who has played the GH games. One thing I did notice is that the difficulty levels in Rock Band are better balanced. Even on the easiest settings in Guitar Hero III there were songs that were tricky for beginners and required a lot of practice. The easiest difficulty setting in Rock Band is actually easy and almost everyone will be able to play the tunes with considerable success.
The presentation of the game is rather impressive, and it's great to be able to fully customise the look of your rock avatar. Due to the nature of the game it's obvious that Rock Band was never intended for deaf gamers and it's no real surprise to find that the game doesn't offer any subtitles. None of the tutorials in the game are subtitled and in effect are pointless for deaf gamers. The song lyrics are shown in text and during the course of a song there are various icons that convey information to you in an effective and unobtrusive manner.
As we said right at the beginning, this isn't really a review of Rock Band. We didn't play the game with either the drums or the original Rock Band guitar so it's impossible to come to any kind of conclusion about the game. Deaf gamers would have no problems joining in with others to form a virtual rock band, at least on the guitars, and if you dabbled with any of the Guitar Hero games and enjoyed them you will certainly have a laugh playing Rock Band. The new social aspect to the game makes the whole thing quite a different experience and for hearing gamers at least, Rock Band should be a truly impressive game to play with friends providing you can afford the expensive cost of picking up all of the Rock Band gear that's required for the full experience.