October 22, 2009

iPhone App of the Week: Rock Band

Even though the land of the App Store already has the musical stylings of Tap Tap Revenge and Guitar Rock Tour, the king of console peripheral-based rhythm games Rock Band is now making a splash to the App Store, making all of those knock-offs bow down. Still, when you clear up all that hype, is it worth the $9.99?

If you're a big fan of the Rock Band series, you'll instantly be at home with the aesthetic, because it's pretty much a duplicate of the one you'd find on the consoles.

You have all the usual modes: Quick Play, World Tour, Multiplayer, and the Music Store where you can purchase more songs in the app.

Before I even get to the modes, however, you're probably wondering how the gameplay, which is famously tangibly made of plastic, translates to the touch screen. Well, it's really what you'd expect, only multiplied four times. Why 'multiplied four times'? Because you get to play guitar, bass, drums and vocals, but for the most part, the gameplay is really all the same across these instruments.

In the case of the guitar and the bass, you can strum the four frets by tapping on the colors as the markers hit the hole.

When you're on drums, a visual representation of the peripheral is shown on screen and you can tap them as the markers hit the hole.

And more interestingly, the vocals also do not require you to sing, which may or may not piss off some of the fans out there. Instead, you tap the four tap points as the rhythm markers pass as well.

To double the points, you should be able to tap some special colored markers. Tapping them all fills up the yellow meter called the "Overdrive" meter. When you fill that up, you can shake the iDevice so you can activate Overdrive and double the points. Just like Tap Tap Revenge.

But enough about the gameplay mechanics, let's get on with the various game modes. First thing you'll probably tap on is Quick Play, and a lot of the songs in the game are already unlocked when you first tap the mode. At first, you'll need to choose the song you want to play.

Like its console counterparts, the setlist is sorted by difficulty by default, but you can change this by tapping the left or right arrows. It's sad that you can't make a multi-song setlist though.

After that, pick the instrument you wish play. Then, the difficulty of the song's chart which only ranges from Easy, Medium and Hard.

Like so, you will be greeted by the Loading screen which also holds a bit of information be it gameplay tips or about the band whose song you are about to play.

When you finish playing the song, you are greeted with a screen that shows you how well you did.

You can either post your score to the leaderboards, retry the song, or just pick a new song. When you do decide to post your score, it'll open a Facebook Connect dialog box, as the app's online component revolves around Facebook.

But what if you want to play the World Tour? Well, it'll lead you to a screen that lets you choose whether you want to play a gig by yourself, or even online.

When you choose to play online, you will be redirected to this screen.

When you press Get Rockin' you'll start to play a song while the game looks for other people who wish to join your band online.

If you want to invite a friend though, make sure that friend has a Facebook account as well because the game fetches Facebook contacts so you can invite them for a game of Rock Band.

But if you wish to play solo, that's fine too. Basically, the World Tour mode is somewhat reminiscent to that of its console counterpart as well, albeit a bit more basic. In fact, it reminds me of the progression of the older Guitar Hero games wherein you play a song, unlock a mystery song, and gather enough stars to open a new location.

I kinda like the setlist, really. It's pretty much a mix of Rock Band and Rock Band 2 songs, as well as its DLC. You can download more songs through its Music Store if you get bored though, and the rates come in at a dollar for 2 songs. I don't think you can manipulate the song packs (ie, pick any two songs to pay a dollar for), but I'm not too sure.

There's actually a free pack right now that you can download so why not get on to that?

Also something of note: some achievements. They're called "Claims to Fame" in this game though, and the achievements are buried in the Extras menu.

Still, some issues persist with this app, and they're actually enough to keep the app from being perfect. For one thing: the constant loading screens. Seriously, expect to see this symbol every few seconds.

Oh, and how about that lag? Lag in rhythm games are simply a strict no-no, but then again, I'm on a first-generation iPod touch, so your performance can vary.

Overall, this game is a very solid package that for the most part, emulates its bigger brothers well. Some performance issues here and there, but the setlist is something to like since they're all masters unlike Guitar Rock Tour, and they're more known unlike the songs that Tap Tap Revenge 3 comes with. With some more updates, it could very be well worth the $9.99 price tag, which isn't too much to ask since it's a $170 dollar console game adaptation we're talking about.

Rating: 8.5/10

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