Let me just say that I think Activision made a huge mistake for not representing at E3. On that note, any media outlets that are prefixing anything they released this week with the two characters “E” and “3” should remove all such references. I know Activision had their reasons for not being a part of the ESA, but the active presence of Rock Band over the last three days has further driven the nail into the coffin for Red Octane’s Guitar Hero series. No matter how many GuitarFreaks and DrumMania fans there are, Konami has never had a chance with the Rock Revolution. 100% covers? Come on. To be honest, I have always been a GH fan, but this is the year of Rock Band.
Even though Activision was not going to be at the show, I had high hopes that World Tour would be playable somewhere either in the Microsoft or Sony meeting rooms or in the booths. Nope. Did I miss it? Let me know if I did. I looked. Rock Band 2 was on the floor. Rock Band 2 was in the MTV Games meeting room. Rock Band 2 was upstairs and downstairs at the Orpheum. Speaking of which . . . amazing The Who concert that even surprised the old rockers themselves. I don’t think they were expecting to put on the show they did. Regardless of whether the people in the crowd knew the songs or not, everyone had a great time.
During the meeting room demo, my mind was about to explode at how much new stuff was being developed for this sequel. I don’t even know if I can list them all. There’s a feature on the new guitars that allows you to just set them near the screen and the game will automatically adjust the delay. There’s going to be a drum trainer. Customizable Set Lists. The ability to play in band mode without the leader and also being able to switch instruments in band mode is a limitation that was annoying in the freshman effort, but has been removed in this edition, which seems like a direct response to consumer feedback.
There’s going to be over 80 new songs (same with GH) for a total of 500 songs. You do need to buy a key to transfer over the old songs, though (less than $5). Improved interface which is not only extremely aesthetically appealing, but will be easier to navigate through all of the songs. Great new selection of songs (e.g. AC/DC and Bob Dylan) which is probably the only thing that GH:WT may have over RB2. Metallica and Jimi Hendrix exclusives? Crazy.
Another great thing going on for Rock Band is the third-party support. You can turn it into an actual drum kit with the Ion Drum Kit. The peripherals that Mad Catz is making for this title are just what the doctor ordered. A microphone combined with an Xbox controller. An authentic bass guitar. Cymbal additions.
The only thing that Guitar Hero has going for them is the song creation, but how many people are going to actually access this function. I have seen the footage and it seems ultra-complicated. I think many people will download the compositions of other people, but this is not a selling point.
My point is that I have continually been crossing my fingers for Guitar Hero, but unfortunately, I am overwhlemed by the awesomeness that Rock Band has become. Sure, you can buy both, but for those people that have to choose . . . they are going to choose Rock Band. The trailer that Activision released this week didn’t reveal anything new or inspiring. For all the great things that World Tour will bring, sadly it’s not enough, because of the poor marketing decisions that were made on the part of Activision. Even for all the hype that was Aerosmith, in the end, it fizzled. I let out a sigh here and say, “Hey, I’m still rootin’ for ya guys, but you need to step it up a notch or two.”