Just as we expect a yearly edition of Rock Band on the major consoles, it looks like we might be in for the same treatment on the iPhone. If you’re into rocking out on your iDevice, that’s good news. On the other hand, if rock ‘˜n roll is your scene, you’ve probably played this type of game many times before.
Rock Band Reloaded comes with 29 songs, although some of them (the ones you’ve never heard of) require free in-game downloads. Regardless, on this platform that’s a stadium-sized heap of music. To put that in perspective, last year’s Rock Band came with 20 songs and originally cost $9.99, while Guitar Hero came with a meager six songs and cost $2.99.
That’s the rock ‘n roll superhighway.
Just like last year, you won’t use plastic peripherals or create an avatar to play. Instead, everything is streamlined to get you in the game as soon as possible, tapping virtual buttons as notes stream down the screen. You can choose from three modes: Quick Play, World Tour, and Multiplayer. Quick Play lets you jam on any song in a single serving, which is great for playing on the go. World Tour is the campaign mode, where you start as an unknown garage band and tour the world to become bigger than the Rolling Stones. Multiplayer supports up to four players at a time, but it’s local only.
None of this will be new to anyone who played last year’s version. So what is new, you ask? Vocals, for one. You can now sing into your device’s microphone, and the game will judge your pitch just like the console version does. This works great as long as there’s not too much background noise. The game now plays in landscape mode now, too, which makes the device easier to hold while you tap away at the screen. And don’t worry– there’s still plenty of room to see the notes coming. Lastly, on the guitar and bass you can now put a whammy effect on sustained notes by holding down the button and wiggling it back and forth.
Sing sad songs into your phone.
A few more small things have been introduced, like improved leaderboards and a no-fail mode, but nothing that will knock your socks off. There’s not even that awesome strum mechanic that made Guitar Hero surprisingly fun to play.
Basically, we were hoping for a lot more from this sequel. Granted, there was nothing wrong with last year’s edition, but even when it came out, the music/rhythm genre had been feeling stale for a while. Now it’s almost impossible to get excited about a new entry that’s mostly just more of the same.
There’s no question that Rock Band Reloaded comes with an impressive number of songs for a very reasonable price. And if you’re not burned out on music/rhythm games, you’re going to love it– it’s a very solid game. But here we are, half a decade after the release of Guitar Hero for PlayStation 2, and, gameplay-wise, not that much has changed. Call us cynical, but we’ll need a little more innovation if we’re going to be impressed.