Ah, the price of admission. Well, here’s where Rock Band drops a vital point. ￡99 is already a lot to pay for the ‘band in the box’ set (drums, microphone and guitar), and that’s before you realise that you’ll need an extra ￡40 for a copy of the game, plus an additional ￡60 for an extra guitar should you want to have a proper four-piece band.
That’s ￡200 for a game, and even between four of you that’s a sizable investment. Just as shockingly, while you can pick up GHIII and a wireless controller for ￡60 to ￡65, you’ll need ￡100 to buy the Rock Band equivalent as the game is still sold separately. Given that our American cousins can buy a special edition featuring the Band in the Box set plus game for $149, this might be one of the most extreme versions of ‘Being British’ tax I’ve ever seen.
Otherwise, the only real complaint is that it’s not possible to start a band with friends online. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t always got three mates I can get in the same room at the same time, and it would have been nice to play through the whole career mode over Xbox Live. As it is, you can engage in guitar duels and play through individual songs, but the full Rock Band experience is out.
Still, there’s no doubt in my mind that – providing you can round up the friends and pony up the cash – this is a fuller, richer music game than Guitar Hero III, and one that any self respecting rock fan should sample. The only reason I can give to hold back is that the six month delay EA has taken before releasing Rock Band over here has given Activision time to announce Guitar Hero 4, which is set to do something very similar.
You’ll probably only want to plump up for one or the other, which makes the real question, do I plump for Rock Band now, or wait to see what GH4 delivers? Rock Band is definitely good – nay, great – enough to make the first option perfectly worthwhile, but had EA been a little less greedy with its pricing, my answer would have been ‘why delay?’
The price isn’t right, but otherwise Rock Band is a hugely successful attempt to take the Guitar Hero genre somewhere new. If you can round up a band, it’s expensive but essential.