Posted on June 21, 2007, davidm The Most Anticipated Game This Holiday Season?
The release list this year borders on the insane. It’s really no secret that gaming companies backlog titles for the holiday season, but looking at this list, it just seems self-destructive. With so many amazing, highly-anticipated titles coming out, I find it so strange that I keep focusing on one particular release.
Is it Halo 3? Well, it’s awesome but it’s still Halo. How about Grand Theft Auto 4? I bet it’ll be great, but for all intensive purposes, it’s still GTA. What then? What title promises to be one of the greatest gaming experiences in a holiday season full of them?
EA’s Rock Band by Harmonix.
I know what you are thinking. “It’s Guitar Hero, but with more expensive peripherals.” I know you are thinking that because it’s what I thought when I first heard about it. A rhythm game that includes a guitar, a bass guitar, a drum set, and a microphone? That will never work. You already look goofy enough playing Guitar Hero in Best Buy, think of how silly you would look jamming on a plastic drum set. Then, the most amazing thing happened. I saw this:
It all changed after that. My initial skepticism turned into pure, unadulterated optimism. Why the sudden change? What you might have to understand is the fact that I want to be a rock star. I’m hardly alone in my vain quest for stardom, but it’s not really a dream that people vocalize often. This guitar, this true-to-life, fender guitar really shows what Harmonix is trying to do.
Harmonix, if nothing else, is a developer created by musicians. I mean just look at their game releases. (Karaoke Revolution, Amplitude, Guitar Hero, etc) Musicians understand the path to learning an instrument follows a simple guideline. You learn the instrument, and then you practice and practice on your own. Once you get to an adequate level of play, what is the next level? Start playing in a band.
Maybe it is hard for someone who does not play an actual instrument to understand. If you fit this description, then ask anyone who plays in a band. Ask the dude working at your local Guitar Center. They will all tell you the same thing. Playing in a band is the “next level” for any musician.
Words hardly do the sensation justice, but I will do my best. There is a moment for a musician where everything just clicks. Instead of 4 different instruments playing independently, you hear 1 harmonious sound. Being a part of that, listening to your instrument become something larger than yourselfÃ¢$¦ it’s a feeling that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lives. I think this is what Harmonix is trying to do.
Just think about it. Everything Harmonix has done lead them to this moment. If Amplitude was learning note progression, and Guitar Hero was learning the instrument, all of a sudden Rock Band has become the summation for both games. Each game has become a financial and critical success, so the gaming community itself has now been trained in the methods needed for Rock Band to be successful.
But since negativity is born on the internet, let’s go over some of the arguments.
Sure, you are not really playing the instrument, but a virtual facsimile that holds no real merit. Does it really matter? I mean that’s sort of the whole point. The basics of it, the emotional content involved in getting 4 of your friends together, and working towards the common goal of “creating” music, is still there. That experience, while not sounding like much on paper, will be far more amazing in practice.
The peripherals will be expensive. The guitar will probably be around 60 bucks, the drums another 60, the microphone 30, and the actual game another 60. Couple that to a next-gen system to play it on, an internet connection, a tv, your power bill, etc. That total could land you around 700 dollars worth of purchases for the entire set. So the argument here, is why not just buy the actual instruments? That answer should be obvious to anyone who has actually tried to play an instrument.
The reason EVERYONE is not in a band, is because not everyone has the passion. Learning an instrument, any instrument, is a time consuming process. You have to practice and strain and fight through frustration. Your fingers will hurt constantly, and you’ll want to just quit altogether countless times. Do that for a year or so and maybe you might have enough skills to play in a band. So fine, Rock Band’s peripherals might be expensive, but you’ll be shredding hardcore solos the first day you purchase them.
Anyone who plays Guitar Hero understands. There’s just something about it. Some primal joy achieved by thrashing through a really hard song, jumping into a power stance, and feeling like a rock star. With Rock Band, that sensation will be enhanced ten-fold, because you can share it with a group.
Is it all speculation at this point? Perhaps, but the gaming industry is in just the right mind-set that an idea like this might actually work. The Wii and Guitar Hero are both radical ideas that have changed the way we play games, and the people are clamoring for something more. So we are ready Harmonix, now go create something amazing.