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Review: Music Game Roundup

Steve Butts | 2 Nov 2010 13:00
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DJ Hero 2 does have a few failings, however. The campaign, in contrast to Warriors of Rock, barely hangs together. You're supposed to be building this massive DJ empire, but as you move from your humble beginnings in Ibiza and go one to conquer the world (or at least the DJ part of it), you don't really get a sense that you're developing a single story or character. It all just seems like one isolated challenge after another. I know that may sound odd after my criticism of Warriors of Rock but the difference is that your cumulative efforts in DJ Hero 2 don't seem to have much meaning at all. The only other big problem with the game is that the mixes are so fragmented that the microphone controller isn't particularly useful. You'll have to play for a good long while before you even begin to get a handle on how the popular songs are mashed together.

Power Gig: Rise of the Six String
I never judged anyone else's attraction to guitar games, but I'm one of those snobby types who would much rather be playing a real instrument than monkeying around with the heavily abstracted simulation of guitar-playing that is the genre's current state of the art. Fortunately, today's developers are trying to ease the transition from gamer to guitarist and from guitarist to gamer with the addition of controllers that actually work like (gasp!) real guitars. Now when you're sitting there playing with singers and drummers, you can feel like you're actually doing what real guitar players do.

Power Gig comes with a real (albeit plastic) electric guitar that also serves as the standard five-button controller found in other popular guitar games. The gameplay itself is kind of ordinary, with the notable exception of using leading trails to let players know which direction the music is heading. I kind of appreciated this feature on the earlier levels, but once the notes started to really pile up, the trails get a bit distracting. (This distraction was aggravated by the loud chunking sound coming from the deadened strings in game mode.) When you consider the ways the other three games on this list put the interface up front, I wonder if Power Gig does all it can to help players see the notes they're supposed to be playing. And like Warriors of Rock, Power Gig has a quasi-mythic story that's impossible to take seriously and not inventive enough to be enjoyable.

Even if you throw in the game, the guitar's not worth the $180. It may be a guitar in the scientific sense, but it's essentially a plastic game controller with working guitar bits stuck on. You can plug it into an amp and it will make a not entirely unpleasant sound, but there is also an abundance of things that would frustrate you to death on a real guitar. The tuners are terrible; even after just a few minutes of playing, the thing is out of tune. Even tightening up the tuners doesn't solve the problem. The whole thing is plastic, which doesn't help the tone, and the electronics are subpar. Considering a real Squier or Epiphone guitar isn't that much more expensive than $180, the Power Gig guitar is really disappointing.

Rock Band 3
I'll just get it out of the way now: I love this game. While I was always a mild fan of the series, the addition of Pro Mode has turned me into a full blown fanatic. The heavy level of abstraction has always kept me at a bit of a distance from these games, like a professional race car driver whose only videogame options were arcade driving games. But Rock Band 3's Pro Mode is like the Grand Prix Legends, a full simulation that blurs the line between the game and life, at least so far as the skills to play and the range of options are concerned. In Pro Mode, you'll be playing the actual parts from the actual songs, and not just simply approximating the direction and rhythms of the music. So if Huey Lewis and the News play a C chord with an E in the bass during the vamp, you'll play a C chord with an E in the bass in the game.

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