This week marks the return of the once-popular music video game franchise Rock Band and now may be the perfect opportunity to introduce Rock Band 4 to a new generation of fans playing Playstation 4, as well as to remind fans of earlier games in the series of why the game is so great. Rock Band has been out of the spotlight since the game’s last release in 2010. While Rock Band 3 was well-received, it soon became clear that the band simulation hype was dying down. But with many players adopting the latest generation of consoles, including many new players, the time seems right to reintroduce the game.
When games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were hitting the height of their popularity, I was hesitant at first to play them because I play guitar. Playing guitar and playing a game controller aren’t the same thing, but soon I realized that it doesn’t matter. Rock Band became popular because it was a simulation of something people enjoy doing even if they can’t actually do it in real life. It wasn’t uncommon for a group of friends to get together just to play Rock Band in the same way gamers get together to play multiplayer games like the latest Call of Duty.
Harmonix, the developer behind Rock Band and Guitar Hero, aims for Rock Band 4 to be the music video game of the current generation of consoles with a strategic plan to make additional songs available in the future through downloadable content and providing frequent updates instead of developing full sequels. A new set of instruments was developed by Mad Catz for the game’s release, but players who still own instruments from the previous games will be happy to know they can use those instruments with Rock Band 4. Playstation 4 owners are at a distinct advantage over Xbox One owners who will have to pay for an extra controller adapter in order to use any of the older instruments.
The gameplay of Rock Band 4 is similar to a role-playing game with players assuming the roles of members of a band. The career mode begins with a small town band playing gigs to a small group of fans, and the goal is to become more successful by playing larger gigs, gaining more fans, and earning more money. Like any RPG, there are a variety of performance factors that influence how well a player does in the game and how quickly they progress
A new edition to Rock Band 4 is Freestyle Guitar Solos. When this feature is enabled, instead of a predefined solo, players are given style suggestions for players to emulate and are scored based on how well they emulate the given style.
With over sixty songs available in Rock Band 4, including songs by U2, Aerosmith, and Bruno Mars, as well as over two thousand songs currently available as downloadable content in the Rock Band Music Store, Rock Band 4 will have fans of the music video game genre busy for a long time even as Harmonix continues to make new songs available. Any previously-purchased DLC will also be available at no extra cost.
The return of Rock Band will be a welcome one for many longtime fans of the franchise and a welcome introduction to new players of the game. Rock Band 4 is available for PS4 as a standalone game or as a band bundle that includes the new instruments developed by Mad Catz.