Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rock Band (Assorted)

I've been listening to albums the last few weeks, trying to identify the single best candidate for a Rock Band album download.

My first choice would have been "Who's Next," so that was an excellent bit of luck.

Here's another one: Pretenders. The first album of the Pretenders is full of irresistible hooks, there are great guitar licks, the drum sections are beefy, and it's a great album overall. Plus, songs by The Pretenders have already been licensed in previous versions of Guitar Hero, so having access to the songs shouldn't be a problem.

If you have the album, give it a listen. It's remarkably balanced in terms of roles, and I think it would be a terrific choice.

I've finished 36 songs on Expert guitar at this point, with a career score of about 5.3 million, which puts me in the 6k range on the leaderboards. With the drums, I'm 20 songs into Hard, with a career score of about 3.2 million, which puts me about 8k on the leaderboards.

I wish I knew how many people, in total, are listed on the leaderboards for both guitar and drum careers, but it's very difficult to figure out unless you have no career score at all (in which case it seeds you at the very bottom of the boards). Once you have a score, there's no simple way to get to the end to see total number of players, unfortunately (as far as I can tell).

From previous leaderboard checks, I'm sure there are are least 80k listings, and I'm hoping there are around 100k.

What I'm finding out on Expert guitar is that the note charts are unbelievably good. I haven't found a single song on Expert that wasn't fun to play, and several of the songs are up to the standard of Jessica from Guitar Hero II (which, for me, is the gold standard of note charts). Overall, I think the note charts in Rock Band on Expert represent the best collection of note charts ever presented in a game of this kind.

If you remember Expert in GH II, there were certain songs (I'd single out Freya, Laid to Rest, and Psychobilly Freakout in particular) that were just a pain in the ass to play. They were extremely difficult, extremely repetitive musically, and (for me, at least) they just weren't fun. Like I said, I haven't found a single song yet on Expert in Rock Band that is like that.

I'm also finding out that playing certain solos on the neck is both great fun and very, very effective. Yes, it's pretty difficult to get used to finding your finger position on the neck (that sounds absolutely filthy), but playing solos without having to strum should just be inherently better in terms of accuracy, particularly on songs with long solos like Green Grass and High Tides. It varies depending on the song--on shorter solos, it's frequently not worth the risk--but once you identify the songs where it's worthwhile, it should improve your score.

If you're wondering about the difference between Medium and Hard on the drums, I can tell you in one word: speed. It's a rude shock to start playing songs on Hard and realize how many more notes you have to play, and how much faster. Songs like Reptilia are extremely difficult (at least for me), both because they're fast and because there is lots and lots of kick pedal usage. I still can't wrap my brain around the note/pedal/note/pedal etc. combination--it's, by far, the most difficult sequence for me.

Oh, and if you're playing through the drums on Medium and you hit a wall with Green Grass and High Tides, just hang in there, because I thought it was probably the most difficult song on Medium, even though (with the drums) it comes well before the last set.

You'll be relatively shocked at how quickly you progress once you get to Hard. I 3-starred the vast majority of songs on Medium, but after playing a few songs on Hard, I went back to Medium and I've 4-starred or 5-starred the first 30 songs. I'll play a few songs on Hard (which is tiring, really), then go back and play a few songs on Medium, which feels almost relaxing in comparison.

One last note: I ordered a replacement guitar last Wednesday, and it arrived yesterday. On very fast sections, I felt like I was missing notes that I couldn't explain, and I suspected that my original guitar controller was at least slightly flaky. After playing with the replacement for a few hours, I think I was correct--the new controller plays flawlessly, and when I miss a note, I always know why.

I know I mentioned a band name contest last week, and my apologies for not getting to it yet. We'll definitely be doing it next Tuesday or Wednesday. Just so you can prepare, it's going to be very easy: send in a band name AND the name of that band's first album. Don't send them in now--just think about it for next week.

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