>The Greatest Thing (take 2)

>I have been guilty of using excessive hyperbole for pretty much my entire life, which can (obviously) lessen the weight of any endorsement or criticism I might have. That said, eventually, we will all look back on the sum of one’s experiences and be able to say, “That was the greatest thing I ever did,” “that was the most fun I ever had,” “that was the shittiest thing I ever saw.”

So I won’t say that playing drums yesterday afternoon in Rock Band 2 for 5 hours while my wife played guitar is the most fun I’ve ever had. “Fun” is an incredibly subjective term and is therefore almost impossible to define with any degree of specificity.

If I were to say, however, that my experience yesterday afternoon playing the drums in Rock Band 2 while my wife played guitar was about 1000 times better than I thought it would be, and actually made me feel like I was really playing the drums which is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do, and basically let me live out my secret drum-playing fantasies in all their sweaty glory, and that it will probably be my favorite gaming moment of the year and maybe make the leap into my top 5 gaming moments of all time, I think that would be fair.

I would estimate that in 95% of all the band rehearsals I’ve ever had over the last 15 years – and this is no exaggeration – I’ve managed to squeeze in at least 10-20 minutes of drum-kit time, which is usually whenever the drummer leaves the room. I would never pass myself off as a gig-worthy drummer, but I can keep a steady beat and can generally get a pretty good groove going. I take a certain amount of pride in my drum machine prowess, and almost all the drumming on my recent recordings has been “live”, not pre-programmed.

The point is, I’ve always loved playing drums. And I got to feel like I was actually playing drums yesterday, and it was awesome.

I should back up here and clarify the record. Just a few days ago, I wrote about my disinterest in music games, and specifically my reluctance to buy Rock Band, even though all of my gaming friends love the hell out of it. The biggest obstacle, though, was my wife; I didn’t want to spend that much money if she wasn’t going to play it with me, and she’s always been somewhat reluctant to play those kinds of games.

But then, this past Saturday, I was at an anniversary party for some friends of mine; they had rented out a private karaoke room at this sushi place in the East Village and hooked up Guitar Hero to the projector. And as we all got into the spirit of the thing, I could see she was starting to melt a little bit.

With some minor cajoling, she gave in. And so I traded in a ton of old games and was able to procure the full Rock Band 2 package, and it only cost me about $30.

[Games I Traded In:

  • Dead Rising
  • Call of Duty 4
  • Dirt
  • Eternal Sonata
  • Kameo
  • Lego Indiana Jones
  • Pure
  • Saints Row 1
  • Lego Star Wars: Complete Saga
  • Rockstar Table Tennis
  • Tiger Woods 09

Alternately, I probably could’ve just traded in my Wii, for all I use it these days. I am not a fan or supporter of the used games market, but, hey: I have no problem using it to my advantage.]

My brief time with Guitar Hero World Tour at the karaoke bar was enough to seal the deal, in terms of brand loyalty. Both GH and RB are functionally identical in terms of gameplay, but there’s just something about GH that just turns me off. Maybe it’s the gratuitous product placement, or maybe it’s the way everything is laid out, but everything in GH just screamed out “CASH-IN”. Whereas Rock Band 2 feels a lot more… I don’t know… awesome. My wife and I named our band “Lilo and Two Poots” after our dogs (and their farts), and seeing the bandname on logos and posters randomly appear in the game totally cracked us up. Every once in a while we’d try a “Mystery Setlist” and we’d start playing these awesome songs that weren’t yet appearing on the set list creation screen, and after every song we’d instinctively reach over and give each other a high-five.

I can’t tell you how awesome that is, to be high-fiving my wife after getting 5 stars on a Jane’s Addiction song.

And to think, I was planning on writing a thing about Gears of War 2 today.

One response

  1. >Rock Band 2 definitely represents some of the most joyous and exhilirating social gaming I’ve ever experienced. And for me, Rock Band 2 has a huge edge over the current Guitar Hero game. It feels authentically cool. It gets the atmosphere at rock gigs exactly right. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a sense of humor, but it’s grounded in the reality of the experience. The Guitar Hero games take a much more cartoony, over-the-top approach that just doesn’t do it for me. You can tell that Rock Band 2 was made by people with a genuine love for the music and for the unique energy of a live performance, and it comes through in every aspect of the game.

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