Games Gift Guide

MTV Games Expand on the Guitar Hero template

Games Gift Guide

Rock Band

MTV Games

$59.99 (accessories cost extra)

In the two weeks that we've had Rock Band in the house, we've seen a steady stream of people filter through the living room – guys, girls, gamers, musicians, and people who have never touched a joystick or a drumstick. Every single person, even the most skeptical, has loved it.

Rock Band follows the basic idea of the Guitar Hero series, which developer Harmonix also helped create, of giving players Fisher Price-esque guitars with frets that match up to a stream of colored "beats" floating down the screen. You hit the notes at the right time, and an epic of classic rock comes blaring out your television.

I've never enjoyed Guitar Hero. It's mostly either a one-player career or a heads-up rock battle. If I want to play guitar by myself, I have an actual guitar. And I'm just not that competitive about music.

Rock Band takes that idea and adds collaboration. Instead of just a guitar, you can add a drum kit, microphone, and bass to form a true band. And then you jam.

Another in the line of hyperintuitive gaming experiences with atypical controllers like the Wii and Dance Dance Revolution, Rock Band imbues nongamers with a deep sense of immersion that's common to great games. At its best, it captures the feeling of an actual jam session. There's that sense of euphoria when everyone comes together, shreds inhibitions, and just wails. At its most difficult, however, Rock Band can be bang-your-head-against-the-wall frustrating.

With a healthy track list and more songs being released for online purchase each week, I expect people to be passing through my living room well into the reign of Rock Band II. ****

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