I still have a memory from 4th grade that haunts me. No, it’s not some awful awkward story but rather the story of how I love the drums. My parents, wanting only but the best for me and to give me the chance to try new interests, mistakenly decided to sign me up for band class. I had done “okay” at sports that required running i.e. Soccer and Basketball, but this would be my first chance to learn an instrument. I can remember the feeling of walking into the old band room, tucked away in a run down building next to our middle school. It should be noted, that I went to private Catholic school which makes this next part seem appropriate. I walked in and the teacher asked me “What instrument would you like to play?”. Wow! You mean in Catholic school, I actually get a choice about something? I immediately said drums. I had always been that kid, tapping away on his desk in class, so, I’m a natural, I thought.
“Well…we already have three drummers”… Great, I thought. “But we do need someone to play the trombone!” And of course, spineless 4th grade Joey just rolled over and accepted this as his punishment. I would spend the next year or so lugging this thing around with me. I would ride the overcrowded school bus each morning, that also was filled with public school kids while little catholic school boy me would attempt to navigate the unruly case to my seat. Often times we would be forced to sit three to a seat which meant sitting half my ass on the edge of a seat with kids who already hated me, but now I had to balance this stupid god awful instrument and not fall out of my seat. That and being called a “tromboner” almost every day basically made me hate band forever. So long story short, I never learned to play the trombone and was actually just told to “pretend” to play during our concerts. I’m sure my parents were very proud.
So let’s flash forward now to present day and years of Rock Band games and the current fourth iteration of the game, Rock Band 4.
It’s terribly shallow to admit but, my appreciation for music has increased over the years because of this game and mainly because it was giving me the one experience I’ve cherished: playing the drums.
Seriously, I never even got a chance to touch a drum during those years. Sorry, I digress, so what makes playing Rock Band so fun? A couple things really stand out with this new game.
First, Rock Band games have always been a shared experience. E_HUFFY still recalls the first time myself, aldoguzzi and you-de-craze played together. There really is something fun about playing with a group of friends! Even though we all share no musical talent, we were sharing our love for the music.
Rock Band can get you to appreciate music more and that’s what it did for me. Last night, I finished a few warmup songs on drums that I couldn’t seem to beat since getting the game three weeks ago. But that moment when you are feeling a groove and you finally figure out a tricky beat pattern makes it all worth it! Also it let’s me live out my fantasy that I’ll be an amazing drummer some day (if I can ever complete my set).
So what has changed? Well, for the most part, not much. The old adage of if it ain’t broke certainly applies to RB4. However, there are some welcome changes that make this experience even better. First, if you have all your old instruments, you’ll find that many of them work with your current system (IF you have a PS4…). That is unless you are a Microsoft person, which will require you to purchase an additional add on for $14.99 to make your old instruments work with the Xbox One. Harmonics has provided a lengthy, if not confusing, compatibility guide on their website to help you figure it all out. I will say this much, I purchased my drums at a second hand game store for $20, however even with the guide, I found I can’t navigate around the XMB with the directional pad. It wasn’t until I powered up my PS3 and then tested it on the XMB that I was able to determine that I needed a spare controller on hand to start the game. After entering the game, I was able to use the directional pad, weird right? And Harmonics makes no mention of that leading you to believe that your old instruments won’t work. So, a bit misleading but not entirely as I kind of expected this behavior.
The next biggest change is in the play modes which include the new Freestyle Mode. Freestyle mode is pretty fun to say the least. It forces you to basically click like crazy with your left hand and then to alternate your strum pattern from a 1-2, to a 1,2,3,4 style pattern. Basically it makes you feel like you are actually playing all of the notes during the larger freestyle portions of a song and really adds to the feeling that you are some sort of rock god. However, sometimes, I felt like this more or less ruined some songs that I was so use to listening to. It sometimes warps the sound a bit and makes it sound out of place but overall the effect is great.
So pretty much those are the biggest changes from what I can see. I have played all the instruments, yes, including the singing one. But hey, sometimes you just gotta sing. That being said, there really isn’t much difference with the bass and the singing portions of Rock Band 4 from that of previous games. The same track patterns and same bass groove.
Lastly I want to settle on a couple gripes the game leaves me with. While you have access to a ton of your past library, let it be known that this is not an easy feat on the Playstation Network. If it was easier on the Xbox One to download my past library, I would gladly pay $14.99 for a stupid adapter (…what am I saying, I don’t even have an Xbox One). The problem lies in the fact that even though I can search for Rock Band 4 songs that are filtered as Free, most of these songs are songs that are currently unavailable, and this filter does not show my past downloads of which I can only find if I search directly for an artist on the Playstation Network. It’s like the Playstation Network is actively making it harder for me to locate all these DLC files…
The other gripe is that I can’t share any of the footage of me talking about this game from the Playstation Network as Youtube will consistently block the video for Copyright claims, which I understand but still feel it is stupid to block someone’s right to share a video explaining the product. I suppose I can leave you with Harmonic’s marketing material so that you can get a feel for the game instead…boo.
Peee yooou, these commercials don’t excite me much, why wouldn’t they just start a band if they were already meeting in a garage in the first place? p.s. you need to click that boo right there to get what I’m talking about.
So should you give Rock Band 4 a shot! I think so! If you have played the previous games and wish to pick up all your, if not hard to find, DLC from past RB games, then RB4 is for you. I would honestly find a way if you are a PS4 owner to locate the old instruments because the idea of paying $250.00 for the set seems a bit crazy to me.
Edit: Maybe you can watch it here.