Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: MTV Games and Activision/Red Octane
Developer: Harmonix and Neversoft
Tim here, cursed with the arduous task of comparing and contrasting Harmonix’s stellar Rock Band to NeverSoft’s challenging but tired Guitar Hero III…wait just a minute here. I think I just finished. I mean I could have sworn I was just ramping up for an epic tale the world has not seen since The Iliad vs. The Aeneid, or perhaps even Ecks vs. Server, but it seems that instead of giving a long drawn out history of money grubbing corporations with egos the size of something metaphorical, I, your humble narrator, have succinctly told you that Rock Band is a far better game than Guitar Hero III and poor reader, you are forced to believe me, for I am in print, and until I get bought up and sub sequentially fired by CNET I am a credible source of information, if not a mildly lazy one. Rejoice! Your choice is easy. Buy Rock Band. Rent Guitar Hero III.
I guess I should let you know, that at this point I am just filling up space, so you should probably stop reading. I get paid by the word (in pabst), so unless you get paid for reading things on the internet (I am looking at you office workers), read no further. What follows is an epic tale of good versus evil in a time where sound and colors ruled the earth. Welcome to the Metal Age….
Shit, still here huh? Even with a terrible line like “welcome to the Metal age?” Well, there is no accounting for taste, but you are obviously still curious as to why I feel that Rock Band is a far better game than Guitar Hero III so let me clarify this for you in very vague terms. Do you remember the first time that you picked up a Guitar Hero game? For most of us it was immediate bliss. Instantly new paths were being formed in our heads, and we were as clumsy as a new born doe trying to walk. Months passed, our new neuropathways were complete and we were rocking on expert, bragging about our new skills to our uninitiated friends. Even though we had beaten the game we still went back to play the songs over and over, and work out a strategy that would equate to a high score. There was something intangible in the game design that Harmonix just got, the vibe was there, the humor wasn’t forced, and most of the songs were solid. And for a time, things were good.
Now along came Guitar Hero III, and being the consumer-whore that I am, I bought it, even though I have yet to beat Free Bird on expert on Guitar Hero II. I strapped on my new wireless ax and prepared to rock. I tear through the campaign (fuck you Raining Blood), but I am not pulled to replay the songs, in fact I am happy to be done with them and move on. I figured at the time that it was just the song choice and since I was so familiar with 90% of these new songs that they were boring to play. Time passes and my fiancé and I have a few solid red wine and Guitar Hero nights, which have become a customer of ours. They are good, but something is missing. Playing Guitar Hero III with her was like having sex, but without love. It was just fucking man. This freaked me out a bit, not only was it blister inducing and boring to play alone (I am looking at you my penis), it also felt hollow playing it with her. I figured rhythm games had run there course and that part of our relationship was over. Then Rock Band came.
Forgive the blatant sexual innuendos (is it still an innuendo if I compare it to fucking?), but playing Rock Band is like making love, with a few people at a time. In other words, it’s just magical. Harmonix nails the tone, the look, and most importantly the sound. NeverSoft did a competent job with Guitar Hero III, but Harmonix have perfected the rhythm game while aiming for the sky with their design. The vocals work great and the drums are stellar (if not a bit fragile). The biggest detraction is that the Rock Band guitar feels cheap compared to Guitar Hero III’s and the buttons are a little too close together for a rhythm game alumni.
The one thing that Guitar Hero III has strongly in its favor is its difficulty. It is much harder to get through a song on the harder levels than it is in Rock Band. If you can comfortably play on hard in Guitar Hero III, you can most likely play on expert in Rock Band for just about every song.
Most recently we have seen Rock Band get some stellar and affordable downloadable content while Guitar Hero III has lagged behind, far behind. The support of downloadable content for Rock Band shows no signs of slowing, while releases for Guitar Hero have been few and far between and not really worth the money (I am looking at you No Doubt).
Rock Band may have a heftier price tag, but what you are investing is guaranteed support and the best party game you have ever played. Guitar Hero III is by no means a bad game, in fact if Rock Band didn’t come along I would be championing it for its online innovation and its large song selection, but when compared to Rock Band it just pales in comparison. So, there you have it, Rock Band is the decisive winner. You folks are troopers. Thanks for reading.
[8bit Take]: Buy Rock Band. Rent Guitar Hero III