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‘Rock Band’ Hands-On Preview with Video

IMG_0001I admit when we first got approached by EA about Rock Band I was skeptical. After all, Tapulous has been through three revisions of Tap Tap Revolution, the latest of which we reviewed recently and includes an immense in-game store to buy new music to play along with a bunch of other features. However, where Rock Band pulls ahead of the pack of rhythm games on the iPhone is when it comes to overall immersion while you’re playing the songs.

Obviously there’s only so much immersion that you can achieve when you’re pretending to play a guitar by tapping on the screen of your iPhone, but playing the tracks in the iPhone Rock Band works just like its console big brother in that every note you miss causes the music to be interrupted. This seems to add so much more to the game than just tapping along to a song like other similar games on the platform with music that just keeps playing regardless of how poorly you’re doing.

Each song can be played in four distinctly different ways– Guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Every instrument has its own track that you tap along with, and they all match up with the music just as well as the other versions of the game. Each mode is also playable in three difficulty levels. Easy should be easy enough for anyone to jump in to, and hard seems fairly challenging.

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Rock Band features several modes of play. If you only have time to play a single song, there’s a quick play mode. If you want to play through various gigs as your band seeks fame and fortune there’s a world tour mode, and if you have friends with the game both online and local bluetooth multiplayer is included. I don’t have anyone to test these multiplayer features with, but they’re all in there, and I can imagine some pretty hilarious impromptu bluetooth jam sessions among groups of friends that have the game.

The online component uses Facebook to log in and connect you with your friends, and according to EA you will even get push notifications when friends of yours invite you to rock out online. Included in the initial release are 20 songs from a ton of great bands, and there is an in-game store where you can buy additional tracks. In the build I have, there is one additional content pack which features two Smashing Pumpkins songs for 99¢.

Included track list:

30 Seconds To Mars – “Attack"
AFI – “Girls Not Grey"
All American Rejects – “Move Along"
Beastie Boys – “Sabotage"
Blink-182 – “All The Small Things"
Blondie – “Hanging on the Telephone"
Foo Fighters – “Learn To Fly"
Foo Fighters – “Everlong"
George Thorogood & the Destroyers – “Bad to The Bone"
Jethro Tull – “Hymn 43"
Joan Jett – “Hymn 43"
Lynard Skynyrd – “Simple Man"
Motorhead – “Ace of Spades ’08"
Pixies – “Debaser"
Presidents of The United States of America – “Ladybug"
Rise Against – “Give It All"
Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye"
Smashing Pumpkins – “Cherub Rock"
Steve Miller Band – “Take The Money and Run"
The Go Go’s – “We Got The Beat"

I went into Rock Band for the iPhone skeptical that EA could provide something that hadn’t already been done before by the existing rhythm game competition and came out fairly impressed. Rock Band has already been submitted for approval to Apple, and is expected to go live sometime next week!