Rock Band 3 looks lame; is proof rhythm games missed the point


In 2007, a handful of ex-Guitar Hero developers announced a “radical new idea” in video games. I know because I was in the room at E3 when they announced it. They, Harmonix, were going to launch “an interactive music platform” called Rock Band, after which additional songs and game updates would be download later’as opposed to yearly stand alone releases.

Everyone in the room was thrilled with the idea. But it never came to fruition. Harmonix and its partners cowered. And instead of releasing “a platform,” they went against their word and released yearly stand alone games in the form of Rock Band 2, Beatles Rock Band, and Rock Band 3, at full price mind you. Guitar Hero releases are even more watered down.

Wanna play all your music in one spot? Good luck. As is, you have to fire up several different games to play different music, which dicourages use (at least by me).

Imagine if you had to start different iTunes instances (or worse, insert different “iTunes” discs) to play different kinds of music. That’s basically what both Guitar Hero and Rock Band have done. As they say in the South, “It’s hoed up.”

No wonder music games peaked in 2008 and have faded since, as they will undoubtedly continue to do.

As for the above trailer, it’s utterly pathetic. It’s anything but rock. Don’t get me wrong. I love keyboards (The Killers are my favorite band of the last decade, after all). And I still love a good interactive version of Knights of Cydonia. But the showcased songs are anything but energetic. And they’re proof that music games have obviously strayed from their roots of making you feel like a rock star, a face-melting guitarist, a badass drummer.

As for “Rock Band Pro” guitar lessons, I don’t need helping learning how to play guitar. There’s people like Esteban for that (wink, wink). And there are people like myself who actually play guitar, drums, mics, and basses but merely want to pretend they’re better than they really are when playing Guitar Hero. Or forming a “virtual band” with buddies across the nation using only an internet connection.

I still play music games on occasion, particularly the ones with my favorite songs, and when in good company. But after showing show much initial and exciting promise, what a waste the genre has become.

Somewhere, John Bonham is turning in his grave.