Blockbuster rock and/or roll simulators Guitar Hero III and Rock Band will both be available this holiday season (Guitar Hero III has been out for a couple weeks and Rock Band drops tomorrow, provided you got your pre-order in… if you didn’t, you better be reading this from a line at Best Buy.)
You might be asking yourself, which game is better? Which one should get your allowance or hard-earned paycheck?
It depends on what you want from a music game. Both games are great, but are focused on different aspects of the music-game genre.
Guitar Hero appeals greatly to Guitar Hero fans (obviously) and people who want to play a really hard game. On higher difficulties, GHIII is extremely challenging, so you videogame Van Halens will love meticulously working out the game’s complicated guitar solos to show off your crazy shredding skills.
Rock Band on the other hand is a major party game. If you have three or more friends to play with, you’ll want to pick this one up. Just make sure you’ve got an extra guitar controller as the bundle doesn’t include one. We regularly lost track of time while “researching” this article, going MIA from work for hours, touring Europe and earning tour busses and groupies in World Tour mode.
On the 360 (thanks djHaQ), the Guitar Hero III controller will work with Rock Band (not the other away around, though) and it works well. It will not, however, allow you to change the effects on a solo or tap away during ending jams, two features native to Rock Band’s axe. You’ll have to strum each note because the GHIII Gibson doesn’t feature the 5 extra buttons that Rock Band’s Fender sports. Other than that, the controller works perfectly (and is wireless).
The song lists are also pretty different with GHIII skewing more hard rock & metal, while Rock Band tends to feature popular hits with a little bit of everything. So it’s not all about the guitarist. Vocalists will be pleased with the range of numbers, from yelly-songs like Sabotage (a Feed favorite) to tunes that take actual pipes (Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter for example). The Red Hot Chili Peppers are available for wanna-fleas, and a number of selections seem specifically chosen to give the drummer some…like Rush’s Tom Sawyer.
Our resident Guitar Hero expert, Gringo, was slightly disappointed by Rock Band’s expert guitar note charts—too easy-- but enjoys switching it up on drums. He also prefers the GHIII Gibson to the Rock Band axe. His choice: Guitar Hero III.
Bleahy was able to play guitar on Expert pretty reliably, but plays Guitar Hero III on hard. The drum kit’s kick pedal confuses him and he prefers playing guitar, but constantly had to fight Gringo over who got stuck on Bass (to be fair, the bass note charts are better in Rock Band). His choice: Guitar Hero III for Solo Play, Rock Band for Multiplayer.
Sjohnson enjoys playing the bass and singing. The bass is fun even though it's generally as repetitive and simple as actually playing the bass. The fun comes from overdrive, Rock Band's Star Power equivalent. Simple riffs mean more power to save your ailing band mates when they flunk out. The Rock Band bassist is the medic of music.
Also: Singing. It's just fun to caterwaul. Especially when you've been drinking.
As far as a comparison to Guitar Hero III: Rock Band seems to work best as a party game, so if your friends come to visit a lot, you'll want it. If you're like Sjohnson, you have no friends because you are a hard-ass loner who plays by his own rules. So you'll want Guitar Hero III… although, we didn’t have a chance to check out Rock Band's online co-op mode, which might make people like Sjohnson happy by allowing him to make fake music with a company of imaginary computer friends. Maybe Rock Band’s co-op mode will teach sjohnson how to love.
Pattractive holds it down on drums and bass. He felt that starting the drums on easy felt child-like at first, but by the 4th song it feels like playing a real drum beat. The kick pedal works great, allowing you to keep it pressed down and only registering on the down-step, which saves your knees.
Mdalonzo has some drumming experience, and is able to get the same cathartic, skin-pounding joy from keeping time that he does on an actual drum kit. Without question, the drumming aspect of Rock Band made the game more personally appealing, especially since there are songs that focus on things other than shreddy guitar.
Vocals are tough. Even for someone who sings. Yes, it’s the Karaoke Revolution engine, but it’s a lot harder than that game, and far more exacting.
Listen, if you’re the kind of kid who likes to spend a lot of time alone perfecting your licks, then Guitar Hero III is more likely your game, but if you’re into hanging around with your friends and spending hours and hours creating a party where there wasn’t one previously, then you’re going to love Rock Band.
People Who Should Buy Guitar Hero III:
• Metal Heads
• Guitar Freaks
• People That Really Want a Wireless Guitar
• Fans of the Series
People Who Should Buy Rock Band:
• Party Hosts / Dorm Kids
• Wannabe Virtual Drummers
• Karaoke Freaks
• The Rich
People Who Should Buy Both:
• Fans of Music Games
• Those That Want a Complete Band Set
• G4 Executives Who Need to Get Holiday Presents for TheFeed
We'll answer any questions you guys have about either game. Rock on!