Monday, September 15, 2008

Rock Band 2 and the Ion Drum Rocker

Rock band 2 launched yesterday--sort of. The game was widely available, but almost no one had either the new drum or guitar controllers. Plus, if you want to buy a bundle with both the new instruments and game, you're out of luck for at least another month.

All in all, it seemed badly managed.

Usually, I would play for hours on the first day. Yesterday, though, after picking up the game and being unable to find the new guitar, I didn't play at all.

This was partially due to my shoulder being in such a sorry state right now, but if I'd had the new guitar, I'm sure I would've played anyway.

Oh, and if you don't have a 360, you can't get the game at all, at least for now. Add all these things together and it's a badly fragmented launch.

This afternoon, though, the ION Drum Rocker arrived. Yes, I hadn't even mentioned that I ordered it, but knowing me as well as most of you do, was there any doubt? Plus, I had to spend money to save money--in combination with the drum trainer in the game, I can put off buying a more substantial kit for quite a while now.

Big, big savings. That's the official explanation, anyway.

If you're wondering what the ION set looks like, here's the website: Drum Rocker. Basically, it's a low-end kit (in the world of real drums, anyway) based on the Alesis DM5 Pro. It's important to note, though, that "low-end" is in comparison with Roland or Yamaha kits costing well in excess of $1000. In comparison to the Rock Band drums, this kit is ultra-deluxe.

For starters, you can adjust the position of all four pads (as well as the cymbals), including the abilit to adjust tilt. It's almost infinitely customizable in terms of position. Now, when I practice in advance of my real drum lesson, my kit has all pads and cymbals in the proper places.

In terms of feel, the pads have nice rebound (not as much as mesh heads, but far more than the original Rock Band kit), and the cymbals are more cushioned than I expected. High marks on both.

Noise? The original Rock Band kit was tremendously noisy, and it was noise of the "clack" variety. The ION kit is quieter, but the sound itself is also far less annoying--more of a deeper tone than a clack.

Assembly took about one hour--this is a real drum kit, so the assembly process is more complicated. If you have an Omega pedal, it seems to work just fine-- you'll need a 1/8" to 1/4" mono adapter (available at any Radio Shack) to make the connection compatible.

I finished putting it together so late that all I did was play a couple of songs, then spent about 20 minutes in the drum trainer. I can already tell, though, that I'm going to spend a ton of time in the drum trainer. There are 75 different beats to practice, and speed can go as high as 200 beats per minute.

That will be known as "pretty $*#damn fast" speed.

I played the first few beats at 180 bpm successfully, but going from 180 to 200 is harder (for me) than going from 120 to 180.

The game saves your progress on each beat, so if you've played one at 180 bpm, but another at only 120 bpm, you'll see the difference.

There's also a fill trainer and freestyle mode, but I haven't tried either one yet.

ION Drum Rocker: awesome. Awesomeness may not be accurately described with existing scales, as it may well be awesome beyond measurement.

Rock Band 2 drum trainer: awesome, with definite hypnotic qualities.

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