Rock Band 4 review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One
Publisher: Mad Catz
Developer: Harmonix
Medium: Disc
Players: 1-4
Online: DLC

It is hard to believe that more than five years ago, games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero were still on top of the world. Everyone had either played one or owned one, and it all started with a plastic guitar and some rocking tunes back in 2005.  It quickly evolved into a genre all its own that saw numerous knock-offs and steady competition, especially from Rock Band. Rock Band did something that changed the game forever — which was let fans create their own band and play up to five different instruments. Harmonix are the pioneers in this world and have graced us with their presence once again in the form of Rock Band 4.

The real question is, do people still have an interest in the genre? Will a new Rock Band bring in a new generation of fans? It depends on whom you ask. You know the saying ?if it isn?t broken, don?t fix it.?  This is an appropriate use for this statement because Rock Band 4 is what you would expect from the series. The visuals still include character models similar to the previous games and the format of play is almost identical.

Rock Band 4_HUD_01

This is not necessarily a bad thing for hardcore fans of the game, because as with each previous incarnation, you are able to bring over your previous DLC to the new game. If you are a newcomer, or someone that didn?t purchase extra songs, the track list included may be disappointing. The new song selection heavily incorporates artists from the last couple of years and seems to focus on bringing in a younger audience, which could be the right approach.

The genres are well mixed and a fair blend of songs that are vocal, drum, guitar or even bass dominant. For me, being a huge old school ?Dream Theater? fan (a prog rock band), and seeing they added one of my favorite tracks from them wasa fantastic addition. The artist timeline expands from as early as Rick Derringer?s ?Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo? to more recent artists like Imagine Dragons with ?I Bet My Life?.

Everyone that has ever played a Rock Band game and enjoyed it will feel right at home with the latest entry. The core of the game is intact with a touring mode that has you create a band and work your way up the chain to bigger and better shows. Something that is a new addition for any mode is the ability to create a set list and perform numerous consecutive songs including an encore based on how well you do with other songs.

Rock Band 4_NoHUD_04

Outside of the formula veterans are familiar with, comes the new solo feature for guitar. The extra buttons on the bottom of the guitar neck have made a comeback, along with the ability to play the traditional solos in appropriate songs. You can turn on solo mode, which allows you to freestyle the solo, and gives you full reign to shred to your hearts content. I would recommend playing both tutorials to get the hang of it.

There is a decent amount of songs out of the box and the songs are unlocked right away. The biggest advantage Rock Band has over Guitar Hero is the existing library of songs that spans over 1,700 tracks from all the previous games. If you owned DLC songs on PS3 or Xbox 360, you will be able to re-download the ones you own at no charge in RB4. This of course only works on appropriate platform families. (PS3 to PS4 and Xbox 360 to Xbox One)

Rock Band 4_Freestyle Guitar_FingerTapping

The last component of the new Rock Band that is the most important aspect, outside of the song selection, is the actual instruments. Harmonix and Mad Catz stayed true to the originals in both functionality and visual design. The Stratocaster feels like a much higher quality guitar vs the previous and new Guitar Hero guitars. The drums have been beefed up from a durability standpoint, but mostly remain the same. The instruments are now Bluetooth, which is appropriate in the wireless age we are in. I would suggest you put fresh batteries in each instead of using the ones included in the box.

There isn?t much else to say about a game that once established, defined, and stabilized a genre that was in need of a revival. The track list is lackluster and I could?ve gone for some more content in the box, but outside of these concerns, Rock Band 4 is a good return to the rhythmic music genre. I recommend it for anyone with an existing library of songs and people just looking to rock out.

Grade: B