Review: Music Game Roundup

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Review: Music Game Roundup

It's a true battle of the bands as the season's biggest music titles go head to head against each other.

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Well Rock Band has been doing it better than everyone else since it first came out, so that's no surprise. It even did single band games better than anyone (*coughBeatlescough*)

Rock Band 3 all the way for me. I've been a RB fanatic ever since Harmonix gave up the Guitar Hero brand name. They've simply been doing it better since day one. RB3 is absolutely fantastic, and pro mode is the best thing to happen to the music game genre since the original Guitar Hero as far as I'm concerned. Everything I've been hearing echoes your sentiments on the Mustang pro guitar controller; namely, it's alright, but if you're serious about pro guitar you should wait for the Squier. I am impatiently waiting. :)

I would have liked to see a mention of Rythm Zone. It's an Indy game in the same vein of Audiosurf where the you upload a music and the game processes the notes for you to play. It's a long way to being as polished as these other games but it's a cute alternative.

I'd buy all of them, but first I need to get a second job.

And are there really people out there who care about the story modes? How many ways can we tell the "unknown band/person rises to stardom" through awfully rendered cutscenes?

I'm most excited for DJ hero 2 because I've heard that you can play vocals. That sounds like just the injection of fun that these stagnant games need. I don't think pro mode will appeal to a wide audience that plays these games for fun, not as a learning tool. Thats my opinion anyways.

Can't wait for my pro drums to get in the mail so I can play pro drums. I've been playing regular Rock Band guitar and it's fantastically fun.

guitar hero has gone waaay down hill after GHII, i would rather play the crappy graphics than play shite songs :P

Guitar hero looks so bad

I had a lot of fun with the old DJ hero, however I got the general feeling that the controller couldn't really keep up with the songs. It started glitching pretty early on (which is strange since I'm -really- careful with my videogames and accessories) and playing on higher difficulties with it is currently an exercise in rage and frustration. I heard around and apparently I'm not the only one with this problem. Some guys recommended that I take it apart and modify it a bit, but I'm not really -that- technical...

My question is, is the controller to DJ Hero 2 any better?

I don't have much experience with the original DJ Hero controller, but this one was pretty responsive once you got the hang of it. I've been playing with it off an on for a couple of weeks and it's held up so far.

Rock Band 3 was the only way to go for me since I have at least 2 games worth of downloads in addition to previous editions. Pro mode isn't really an issue for me cause at most I'm Hard drummer that can play some songs on Expert.

What bothers me is it seems like not many people are playing normal drums or vocals. Too many tracks that I 3 star on hard where I come to be #1-5 on leaderboards.

In theory, I'm not sure I approve of an adversarial, 4-way, 'versus' review like this one. That said, in practice, it didn't bother me so much. I have to think a bit more about this...

Am I the only one who thinks the end result of this review is a little unfair? The writer outright stated that he loved Rock Band before 3, so I think it's a bit of a given (though not guaranteed, of course) that he would prefer the latest Rock Band title over the other entries.

But all in all, it's of no consequence to me. I'll just continue to wait patiently for DJ Hero 2 to get restocked up the street so I can "tear it up on the 1s and 2s".

...Am I the only one who wants to hear Steve Butts play guitar now?

Oh, dear. That sound. How can you even play that Power Gig game if the guitar sounds like that?

Also, are you dissing Losing My Religion, Steve? Sure, it doesn't really belong in Warriors of Rock... scratch that, R.E.M. belongs everywhere. Everywhere!

I like how they are actually trying to impliment use of a real guitar. That might improve it's appearance to those(it sucks because you never really play any music) people which include musicans who refused to add music the games in the past.

Old music games, umm Amplitude, Frequency, Gitaroo man, Electroplankton... I could go on

Wouldnt it depend on your music taste? I mean... It seems like DJ Hero 2 is for a semi set audience (at least hardcore fans wise).

No Beatmania IIDX? I am disappointed.

I liked this review format. I was curious about the Power Gig "real guitar" and Rockband Pro mode. I think Rockband 3 is in my wish list now, for sometime in the future (considering that I don't even own a xbox360 or ps3). It would be cool if you could just plug a real guitar and play pro mode :)

I don't mean to sound like a fanboy, but Harmonix has always dominated music gaming,
Not only producing the highest quality content but continually innovating and redefining what this genre can do,
After all not only did they create Rock Band but were also responsible for Guitar Hero's existence in the first place and my personal favourite of the series (GH2)

Guitar Hero has always been worth playing, (ok, most of the time anyways) but all they've been doing is struggling to keep up with HMX over the years,
And the non-hero music games are barely worth mentioning

So really it's rather unsuprising that RB3 would "win" this, although i'm sure Gh6 is great, (depending on what you're looking for) I haven't gotten the opportunity to try it yet, i'll get to it after i'm done staring at the hole RB3's burned in my pocket xD

Well Im gonna buy RB3. But with the guitar from squier. That would be an actual Guitar :P So with tactile feedback.

tautologico:
I liked this review format. I was curious about the Power Gig "real guitar" and Rockband Pro mode. I think Rockband 3 is in my wish list now, for sometime in the future (considering that I don't even own a xbox360 or ps3). It would be cool if you could just plug a real guitar and play pro mode :)

Sadly I don' t think its gonna happen with RB3 or GH. Some small projects on PC do it but not a very good job at it, At least thats my experience. They're missing out on fun like RB and GH are fun.
But thats my opinion anyway

Steve Butts:
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.

You and me both, brother-in-rock ;) It is such a dang shame that Guitar Rising never became more than a concept with some suspiciously well-polished mock-up graphics. A niche game, certainly, but one I would have enjoyed note for note.

Now, for something completely different: Something I have been hoping to see in Guitar Hero/Rockband since the inception of the series, is a full-blown rock band management simulation to complement the actual song playing. Something in the veins of Kudos Rock Legend and the online browser game Popmundo (a rather entertaining and unique browser MMO experience). You know, work your way up from a garage band, plan gigs, spend money on equipment and marketing, compose and record songs, give interviews, cause hype, prioritize (wrongly), cause scandals, all executed with sim mechanisms and mini-games, with the actual song challenges still being the most important factor.

I quickly grow tired of games of the type mentioned in the original article. A full band simulation would probably catch my interest.

-Torchedini-:

tautologico:
I liked this review format. I was curious about the Power Gig "real guitar" and Rockband Pro mode. I think Rockband 3 is in my wish list now, for sometime in the future (considering that I don't even own a xbox360 or ps3). It would be cool if you could just plug a real guitar and play pro mode :)

Sadly I don' t think its gonna happen with RB3 or GH. Some small projects on PC do it but not a very good job at it, At least thats my experience. They're missing out on fun like RB and GH are fun.
But thats my opinion anyway

Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.

tautologico:
Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.

Actually, it is not hard at all. The now sadly defunct project I mentioned in my post above, Guitar Rising, had fully working and very precise code for using a real guitar as the controller.

In fact, any software-based tuner does this very thing, and they are nineteen to a dozen on all platforms, and damn easy to code. Analyzing wavelengths in real-time is done all the time by a myriad of music programs. Using such an analysis to produce effects in a game is a rather simple thing to produce, even with the great precision and response time needed to make a guitar work as a controller.

The reason real guitars aren't used as controllers is not for lack of technical possibilities. It would simply make for a very niched game, and therefore only sell to a limited consumer base.

Ayjona:

tautologico:
Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.

Actually, it is not hard at all. The now sadly defunct project I mentioned in my post above, Guitar Rising, had fully working and very precise code for using a real guitar as the controller.

In fact, any software-based tuner does this very thing, and they are nineteen to a dozen on all platforms, and damn easy to code. Analyzing wavelengths in real-time is done all the time by a myriad of music programs. Using such an analysis to produce effects in a game is a rather simple thing to produce, even with the great precision and response time needed to make a guitar work as a controller.

The reason real guitars aren't used as controllers is not for lack of technical possibilities. It would simply make for a very niched game, and therefore only sell to a limited consumer base.

Very true there, I've played games on the pc that use Guitar pro tabs, they sound shit really but their concept works flawlessly, however to go with your last point, I'm sure Harmonix could patch that functionality into Rockband 3 some how, the only problem being is because it's based on sound rather than touch, they'd need to set up some way of doing dropped tunings, and how out of tune your guitar could be to register properly without it being out of fret, etc etc.

SageRuffin:
Am I the only one who thinks the end result of this review is a little unfair? The writer outright stated that he loved Rock Band before 3, so I think it's a bit of a given (though not guaranteed, of course) that he would prefer the latest Rock Band title over the other entries.

Nope. I said, "While I was always a mild fan of the series, the addition of Pro Mode has turned me into a full blown fanatic."

SageRuffin:
Am I the only one who thinks the end result of this review is a little unfair? The writer outright stated that he loved Rock Band before 3, so I think it's a bit of a given (though not guaranteed, of course) that he would prefer the latest Rock Band title over the other entries.

But all in all, it's of no consequence to me. I'll just continue to wait patiently for DJ Hero 2 to get restocked up the street so I can "tear it up on the 1s and 2s".

Correct. It's even more apparent because he completely ignored the glaring flaws in RB3, focusing on "interactive training simulator" mode and storylines (which shouldn't even matter in music games.)

This set of reviews barely touches on any of the games and shows a decent amount of bias. They can't be trusted 100%. Also, it's too early to make judgements now.
People, if you want to know what "clearly won" for this holiday season, find some detailed reviews by core music gamers. Better later than sooner.

Madmanonfire:
Correct.

Correct? The author wrote that "While I was always a mild fan of the series, the addition of Pro Mode has turned me into a full blown fanatic". How can a comment that is based on the misconception that he loved Rock Band before the third entry be correct?

Madmanonfire:
This set of reviews barely touches on any of the games and shows a decent amount of bias. They can't be trusted 100%. Also, it's too early to make judgements now.

Something I, as a journalist, wish was widespread knowledge, is that among the vast majority of news media, a decent amount of bias is not only a good thing, but the basis for a review of an entertainment product. A reviewer often strives for a certain amount of neutral analysis, but in the end, she or he also passes his judgement in accordance with her or his personal taste.

The OP underlines his reasons for preferring Rock Band 3 over the others, and lists those reasons, so that others might examine them, and see if they are of value to them. That is exactly what a good review should do, according to the vast majority of news outlets.

Dorkmaster Flek:
Rock Band 3 all the way for me. I've been a RB fanatic ever since Harmonix gave up the Guitar Hero brand name. They've simply been doing it better since day one. RB3 is absolutely fantastic, and pro mode is the best thing to happen to the music game genre since the original Guitar Hero as far as I'm concerned. Everything I've been hearing echoes your sentiments on the Mustang pro guitar controller; namely, it's alright, but if you're serious about pro guitar you should wait for the Squier. I am impatiently waiting. :)

Waiting impatiently here too, biding the time trying to defeat Beast in the Harlot, Caught in a Mosh, and Llama in pro drums mode. Oh yea, and there's the whole learning to play piano thing. I'm sure it'll keep me busy until the Squier is ready ;)

Also, reviewers bug me when they talk about Guitar Hero like it's this continuous series. It's totally not. After Harmonix left the series, it became but a sad imitator of itself, a mere echo of the genius that once was.

Meanwhile Harmonix continues to blow me out of the water with every new announcement, from Rock Band Network, to Pro instrument modes. Long live the Kings and Queens of ROCK!

Steve Butts:

It's a true battle of the bands as the season's biggest music titles go head to head against each other.

You should mention that you obviously played RB3 on the 360 because the ps3 version is riddled with problems, getting the old games to export is also damn near impossible (it's been a week and I still can't get my codes to work for rb2) and Harmonix/EA/whoever haven't really addressed the issue. Just go to rockband.com support you'll see thread after thread of 'not working ps3' or 'ps3 problems'
It's bullshit

Ayjona:

tautologico:
Technically it's very hard to do with the same precision as the guitar controllers, without putting any additional hardware in the guitar. The only output you have is the analog output signal; doing some signal processing with this you can get a lot of information, but possibly not enough to make it work as well as a controller does. The Squier guitar for RB3 will certainly include additional hardware to make it work.

Actually, it is not hard at all. The now sadly defunct project I mentioned in my post above, Guitar Rising, had fully working and very precise code for using a real guitar as the controller.

In fact, any software-based tuner does this very thing, and they are nineteen to a dozen on all platforms, and damn easy to code. Analyzing wavelengths in real-time is done all the time by a myriad of music programs. Using such an analysis to produce effects in a game is a rather simple thing to produce, even with the great precision and response time needed to make a guitar work as a controller.

The reason real guitars aren't used as controllers is not for lack of technical possibilities. It would simply make for a very niched game, and therefore only sell to a limited consumer base.

I didn't say it is impossible, only that it's hard. It's certainly not as simple as a tuner. You mentioned Guitar Rising, a vaporware that had only a concept video on the site, so it does not count as proof.

I know one or two things about signal processing, and I mentioned the possibility of processing the signal in my post. But one thing is processing audio signals as input, to output audio signals (with added effects or whatever), while another thing is processing the analog input signal to output a simple, digitized, midi-like output. Possible, yes, but not easy. For example, see what some guys that do this for a living have to say here:

What is Music Recognition?

In a few words music recognition is mathematical analysis of an audio signal (usually in WAV format) and its conversion into musical notation (usually in MIDI format). This is a very hard artificial intelligence problem. For comparison, the problem of recognition of scanned text (OCR - Optical Character Recognition) is solved with 95% accuracy - it is an average exactitude of recognition of the programs of the given class. The programs of speech recognition already work with 70-80% accuracy, whereas the systems of music recognition work with 60-70% accuracy but only for a single voice melody (one note at a time). For polyphonic music the accuracy is even lower.

Well, 60-70% accuracy for a single voice (the guitar, in this case) is not good enough for a video game, I think. Also, if it was so easy, Harmonix could just support this in RB3 (that already has a Pro mode) and there would be no need to create a special guitar/controller hybrid. Yes, it is a niche, but for Harmonix, they already have the game, it would actually open up a new market.

Ayjona:

Madmanonfire:
Correct.

Correct? The author wrote that "While I was always a mild fan of the series, the addition of Pro Mode has turned me into a full blown fanatic". How can a comment that is based on the misconception that he loved Rock Band before the third entry be correct?

Madmanonfire:
This set of reviews barely touches on any of the games and shows a decent amount of bias. They can't be trusted 100%. Also, it's too early to make judgements now.

Something I, as a journalist, wish was widespread knowledge, is that among the vast majority of news media, a decent amount of bias is not only a good thing, but the basis for a review of an entertainment product. A reviewer often strives for a certain amount of neutral analysis, but in the end, she or he also passes his judgement in accordance with her or his personal taste.

The OP underlines his reasons for preferring Rock Band 3 over the others, and lists those reasons, so that others might examine them, and see if they are of value to them. That is exactly what a good review should do, according to the vast majority of news outlets.

Well, I guess it wasn't exactly correct. I admit I should've used a better term. But the rest still stands.

And I'm afraid I wasn't clear enough on the bias comment. You're right about it being needed for reviews, but there is good bias and bad bias. The article in question is an example of bad bias because he didn't give each game a fair chance. This resulted in RB3 sounding like it had no problems worth worrying about (inside the game, not the concern over buying another peripheral), while the others did.

Edit: See ace_of_something's post for proof of exactly what I'm getting at. What he proposed could be partly why the RB3 section is overly positive.

Old yet STILL relevant:

image

tautologico:
I didn't say it is impossible, only that it's hard.

And I did not say you said it was impossible. I said it wasn't hard at all.

tautologico:
It's certainly not as simple as a tuner. You mentioned Guitar Rising, a vaporware that had only a concept video on the site, so it does not count as proof.

It is, actually. Such a mechanism does not need to make complex analyses of input notes. All that is required for a real guitar to be used as a controller for a note-matching game is for two wavelengths to be compared and matched. Just like a tuner does. The game analyses the note you input from the guitar, compares it to the note speeding past on the screen (or, rather, the note behind the graphical representation on the screen), and if the wavelength is similar enough (threshold would be a big part of getting this right), and matches in time (rhythm), you score a correctly struck note. Since Guitar Hero/Rock Band songs are re-recorded, comparing single notes of any kind of instrument is eminently easy.

I'm fairly certain you are not going to believe me, but the sound input engine of Guitar Rising was very real. I've seen it demoed, in real life.

Generic question: If it is so easy, why not before? Two good ways to approach that: 1) It has been done. There have been several tech demoes of this very thing, some of them working with almost perfect accuracy. 2) The market is believed to simply not be big enough to warrant an AAA title with this mechanism. This analysis might be wrong, but it sure does influence devs over the globe.

tautologico:
I know one or two things about signal processing, and I mentioned the possibility of processing the signal in my post. But one thing is processing audio signals as input, to output audio signals (with added effects or whatever), while another thing is processing the analog input signal to output a simple, digitized, midi-like output. Possible, yes, but not easy. For example, see what some guys that do this for a living have to say here:

What is Music Recognition?

In a few words music recognition is mathematical analysis of an audio signal (usually in WAV format) and its conversion into musical notation (usually in MIDI format). This is a very hard artificial intelligence problem. For comparison, the problem of recognition of scanned text (OCR - Optical Character Recognition) is solved with 95% accuracy - it is an average exactitude of recognition of the programs of the given class. The programs of speech recognition already work with 70-80% accuracy, whereas the systems of music recognition work with 60-70% accuracy but only for a single voice melody (one note at a time). For polyphonic music the accuracy is even lower.

Yes, I could tell form your first post that you applied real-world knowledge. And your analysis of the situation you describe (as compared to what I speak of) is spot-on. I don't doubt your knowledge.

But you approach the implementation wrong. Just like the piece on Music Recognition above does not pertain to this problem/solution. What you and they speak of, is the artificial intelligence required to make complex analyses of wavelengths, and to output notation. A music matching game simply needs to match wavelengths, as per my explanation above.

tautologico:
Well, 60-70% accuracy for a single voice (the guitar, in this case) is not good enough for a video game, I think. Also, if it was so easy, Harmonix could just support this in RB3 (that already has a Pro mode) and there would be no need to create a special guitar/controller hybrid. Yes, it is a niche, but for Harmonix, they already have the game, it would actually open up a new market.

The special controller/hybrid constitutes a large part of the income of guitar rhythm games. It is not created out of need, but out of want. And yes, Harmonix could support this in RB3 easily. But there are MANY reasons software does not implement functions, not only the difficulty of doing so. The whole concept of feature bloat is based on this, as is the idea of releasing several games with different focus, instead of cramming it all into one. The simple fact that Rock Band and Guitar Hero are games, intended for casual entertainment and party consumption, has been reiterated by the devs of those (and other) music games time and time again.

The interest of rhythm games developers in gradually providing more complex control methods for their music games is evident in the addition of Pro mode for Rock Band 3, something the Rock Band devs recently explained was a "leap of faith", but gradual is an important word here. It is entirely possible we'll see real guitar input for an upcoming Rock Band/Guitar Hero title, but the fact that it is not here yet, is a result of an uncertain market that is still very young (it might be easy to see the music game market as saturated, but compared to most other genres, it is positively undernourished, and only in its infancy), hard to analyse, and unpredictable. Not any technical limitations.

tautologico:
processing the analog input signal to output a simple, digitized, midi-like output

This is the basis of drum triggering, and of using soft synths as sound replacement, and is done frequently, rather easily, and often live.

In the end, the fact that I've seen this done is enough for me, and voids the need for the explanations I give above. But unfortunately, others rarely trust such statements online.

EDIT: Hell, all song input mechanisms (Singstar, Rock Band, Guitar Hero) compare pitch. It's a bloody industry standard :-D A real guitar as a controller would work just the same: check the pitch/wavelength of the input, and compare it to the required pitch. Vocals, guitar note, strange bleeping noises, it makes no difference. It is all simple, and done on a common basis.

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