Rock Revolution Updated Hands-On

We take a look at this year's other rock star simulation.

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Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour have been dominating the headlines when it comes to this year's big rhythm games, but ever since it was first announced back in May, Konami's Rock Revolution has been looking to stake its claim as a viable third option in this burgeoning multi-instrument battle. From the outset, Konami's big selling point has been a more realistic experience; the drum kit it unveiled alongside the game sports a full seven inputs--two more than Rock Band and one more than Guitar Hero. But until this week, details on the rest of the game and hardware have been a bit scarce. This past week we spent some time taking a good long look at a nearly complete build of Rock Revolution to see just how it differs from the competition.

Rock Revolution's career mode takes you from hit record to hit record. Literally.

In the initial announcement, Konami told us that the game would not support vocals, but the possibility of a Rock Revolution guitar has been a little hazy. Opening the bundle reveals a drum kit, a copy of the game, and a friendly notice announcing that other guitar peripherals are supported. The bad news, it seems, is that there will be no guitar controller designed specifically for the game to match the drum kit's ambitious number of inputs. But when you consider the sheer number of Guitar Hero and Rock Band controllers floating around the living rooms of the world, it begins to make sense. The complete lack of microphone support is substantially more disappointing, but nevertheless we assembled the drum kit and set out to see what the game has to offer.

Like in any rhythm game worth its weight, you have the option to either jump straight into quick play or climb your way to rock stardom by progressing through career mode. In Rock Revolution, the career mode consists of a series of framed albums on your wall. Each contains five songs. When you beat three songs, the record turns gold and you can move on to the next record, but you also have the choice to beat all five songs to achieve platinum record status. A few challenges are thrown in here and there, like one that requires you to beat a set score with a certain twist: The notes start scrolling slowly and then rapidly build up in speed while your combo multiplier increases. There's another that throws poison notes your way that you need to avoid playing. From what we've seen, there doesn't seem to be any way to manage your fans, transportation, or collection of leather pants as you might in Rock Band.

Whereas most games force you to unlock songs through the career mode, Rock Revolution gives you access to its entire collection of songs--all of which are covers--in quick play right from the outset. You can form a spontaneous band with a drummer, a guitarist, and a bass player and select from beginner, easy, medium, hard, or expert difficulties. On guitar, we tested the Rock Band, Rock Band 2, and Guitar Hero III controllers, and they all proved to be compatible. The gameplay feels just as familiar as the hardware you're holding in your hand: You match the notes, hold buttons down for sustains, and jerk the guitar into the air when you've built up enough momentum to gain extra points. One unique element of the gameplay is the layout of the note lanes. Notes come down in a straight vertical line, instead of on a 3D fret board that fades into the distance. It feels like you can see fewer notes coming your way when it's done like this in comparison to Guitar Hero games.

The music studio is probably Rock Revolution's coolest feature.

As you might expect, the nature of using a new drum kit requires a bit more getting used to. There are six inputs on the face of the kit--three drum shapes, three cymbal shapes--and a kick pedal down below. This poses a significant initial challenge for anyone who has been trained on videogame drumming using the Rock Band kit, but that soon wears off as you get used to the layout and colors. From there, the experience feels familiar: You play what the screen commands, punctuated by the occasional fill sections that allow you to play whatever you want. There are a couple of quirks that remain with you, though. One is that the kick pedal is denoted as an individual note rather than a bar stretching across all lanes (which makes the drummer's chunk of the screen feel a little more cluttered), and the second is that the red cymbal on the left is best played with your arms crossed, but because there isn't any height differentiation between pads, this often leads to accidentally hitting your forearms together.

There's a large plastic shell that encases the drum's electronic insides. Between this and the fact that the drum sticks are quite a bit heavier than the ones that come with Rock Band, playing the drum produces an altogether different sound and tactile response. Rather than the "tack tack" sound produced by Rock Band's first attempt at drum hardware, the Rock Revolution kit produces deeper "thump thump" with a bit less bounce-back. In addition, the smaller size of the inputs makes it a little tricky to do cascading drum fills without accidentally hitting the plastic shell. However, we quite like the kick pedal. It's sturdy and doesn't bounce up during jaunty double-taps thanks to the way it's locked in under the metal kit frame (which you'll actually need to put together with the provided nuts and bolts). You can also store the drum sticks in two little slots on the right-hand side of the shell, which is a handy touch.

Our favorite feature in the game hands down is the music studio. You can take part in either a jam session or a recording session. In the latter, you can record up to eight tracks with any instrument combination of your choosing and a good deal of sounds like Latin percussion kits, banjo, and synth bass. On guitar, there's a different loop you can play for every single button combination you can press, with a slightly different sound depending on whether you strum up or down. Preplayed loops are also available, and you can set the tempo by hitting the green button four times as quickly or as slowly as you want. Once you record a song, there's no way to share it or play it back in the game proper (a la Guitar Hero: World Tour), you can only go back listen to it in the studio.

The most fun we found is in the jam session. Here you can have three players (a drummer and any combination of guitarists and bassists you want) given unfettered access to all the instrument and loop sounds, but in a free-form setting where they all play at once. If you get a metal drum kit and two metal solo guitars, you can unleash the fury of a Wyld Stallyns-like shred fest the likes of which the world has never heard--provided you don't mind a cacophony of wailing guitars and erratic drum fills. Of course, you can also take yourself seriously and lay down some pretty cool grooves, but it's nice that the jam session is versatile enough to allow for both respectable musicianship and unbridled insanity.

Choosing from the list of songs can be confusing for newcomers without any artist names listed.

Visually, Rock Revolution complements your performances with a handful of musicians jamming out on stage. They are far more realistic looking than the cartoonish rockers you'll see onscreen in Rock Band or Guitar Hero, and tend to take themselves a bit more seriously, though sacrificing a good deal of personality in the process. Their movements match what's on the screen, though you never get close-ups of the guitar strings or a singer's face to really push the point across. In terms of audio, the vocal tracks fluctuate between solid recreations and strangely tepid mimicry, which makes you yearn that much more for microphone support.

All told, Rock Revolution isn't without its unique qualities. The music studio may not have the Web 2.0 content-sharing qualities of World Tour, but it does offer the ability to lay down some pretty neat tracks. And on top of this, the drum kit is at least compatible with Rock Band 2, as we tested for ourselves. You can expect to see Rock Revolution arrive on October 14.

Discussion

112 comments
Hikaru_Isamu
Hikaru_Isamu

To be perfectly honest, this game doesn't stand a chance.

dahui58
dahui58

No guitar? I think that's cheap making a gamer use the Rock Band or Guitar Hero one

punch37
punch37

the track listing is good minus the fact that all the songs are covers and the gameplay is really bad

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

I wouldn't have cared about the songs being covers if only they'd let players sing...

jjdomo
jjdomo

no vocals? that's crap. you can't share or re-play your recorded tracks? crap. i think i'll pass on this one.

sgtshadow00100
sgtshadow00100

Konami, should of just focused on something else then try to join the bandwagon...Beatmania anyone?

JJpenguin
JJpenguin

Too late for covers konami, people have been spoilt, plus it's stange when a song i really love sounds different to how it should.

JJpenguin
JJpenguin

Too late for covers konami, people have been spoilt, plus it's stange when a song i really love sounds different to how it should.

brenden403
brenden403

they should have made a better game for such a good setlist.Rush,Queen and Deep Purple deserve better!

brenden403
brenden403

they should have made a better game for such a good setlist.Rush,Queen and Deep Purple deserve better!

ShadowJake
ShadowJake

7 input drums sound cool, but 40 cover songs sucks. i will have to pass on this one. try again konami

Destrin
Destrin

This looks like that cheap chinese knockoff called "Shredmaster", one of those games where you plug a controller in the tv and just start playing. Sounds lame to me.

hyperwarrior321
hyperwarrior321

pesonally i would prefer rock band. All these other games are just cheap imitations of it

KittensWithBeer
KittensWithBeer

All songs are covers, there's no vocals, the drums have giant plastic casing, theres only 40 songs? This games going to suck terribly.

Eat_My_Shorts35
Eat_My_Shorts35

im 14 i know who soundgarden and nirvanva are, i know who pearl jam and stp are too

cpt_awsm
cpt_awsm

sorry burback, but well,,... #1 Avril lavigne sucks....badly #2 a lot of people arent aware of hair metal, #3 and think about the little kids, they probably dont know who sound garden is. not really as famous as nirvana.

alz619
alz619

i hope this game does well. i wont buy it as i only play GH games in this genre but it will be interesting to see if this is any good.

dxf-Kicker
dxf-Kicker

I'll give it a chance.. its looking alright..

burback2
burback2

lol confusing? Lets see... Ratt, Iron Maiden, Avril Lavigne, The Killers, and Soundgarden. If you don't know who did those songs you need a history lesson.

burback2
burback2

lol confusing? Lets see... Ratt, Iron Maiden, Avril Lavigne, The Killers, and Soundgarden. If you don't know who did those songs you need a history lesson.

burback2
burback2

I'll end up with a copy of this just for new songs. Obviously it isn't going to have the same appeal as Rock Band or World Tour

Dan65
Dan65

i think this game is going to be a big flop in america at least.

Tr5978
Tr5978

Can't say I have high hopes for this one. 50% of the setlist are repeats from previous Guitar Hero or Rock Band games, and they're covers at that.

---Saint---
---Saint---

Well. Where the heck is the setlist?

otanikun
otanikun

No thank you; I mean I could say a million and one things about how it's just a DDR rip off published by the same Konami brand, but that'd just spark a pointless arguement. Anyway I'm not seeing much that's attracting me to it, almost all of the songs are cover versions and I'm not liking that very much, I mean Guitar Hero 3 made it awesome by having all songs from actual artists and the same thing with World Tour. Rock Band, and RB 2 the same thing, this is somewhat like these games but not, just a guitar controller and drum set and mic that I'm going to strongly assume, until it's tested, that the controls aren't going to be very responsive or effective. I dunno so don't quote anything I say, but I really don't want anything to do with this game; or perhaps they are trying to bring in Guitar Freaks into the states with a different name? Remember the original Guitar Hero inspiration now, and that it was toted as a GF rip off; good times, good times. Get it if you want, but leave me outta this one, I'm sticking with GH and RB thanks. :)

marcmanonlyme
marcmanonlyme

Everybody seems to ignore who really created this genre, KONAMI, guys, just google Guitar Freaks or Drummania and learn a bit. I know, only 3 frets back then, but that game was the responsible for getting me into Guitar Hero on the first place more than 3 years ago. And, also, remember GH 1 & 2?? they only had cover versions of the songs, and they still ruled!!! Even though I understand this game doesn't look as polished as RB and GH, it's still an alternative, and who knows what may happen on the future. And so many pads is a closer experience to a real battery, good thing to give it a try. Happy notes to all of you guys.

BoltonTech
BoltonTech

Game play and peripherals are important to music genre games, but almost more important is the set list and a mix of original performance artists and covers. The article indicates that Konami is only including covers which makes the set list somewhat less attractive. According to Kotaku the list is as follows: All The Small Things - blink-182 Chop Suey! - System Of A Down Cum On Feel The Noize - Quiet Riot (Slade) Dance, Dance - Fall Out Boy Detroit Rock City - Kiss Dr. Feelgood - Motley Crue Highway Star - Deep Purple Holy Wars… The Punishment Due - Megadeth Pull Me Under - Dream Theater Somebody Told Me - The Killers Spoonman - Soundgarden Stone Cold Crazy - Queen The Joker And The Thief - Wolfmother Spirit Of Radio - Rush We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister White Room - Cream Youth Gone Wild - Skid Row Dirty Little Secret - All American Rejects Last Resort - Papa Roach Round And Round - Ratt Still Of The Night - Whitesnake Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet No One Like You - Scorpions Diary Of Jane - Breaking Benjamin Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones Falling Away From Me - Korn The End Of Heartache - Killswitch Engage Run To The Hills - Iron Maiden Walk - Pantera Heading Out To The Highway - Judas Priest Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who Pain - Three Days Grace All My Life - Foo Fighters Am I Evil? - Diamond Head / Metallica Bad Reputation - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Our Truth - Lacuna Coil Sk8er Boi - Avril Lavigne Kiss Me Deadly - Lita Ford Magic Man - Heart Paralyzer - Finger Eleven Given Up - Linkin Park If Konami gets the original performance artists to record just a few of the songs then it will put their game back on the map. What I would also like to see is a music genre game to finally include a keyboard controller. I know there are patents out there but until one shows up the genre may stagnate.

threedown
threedown

i love the drums, but ill pass... all covers? no thanks you... the extra drum inputs sound interesting, but not interesting enough for me to fork out extra money for another kit, i already bought the ion... RB2 is good enough for me, and ill pick up GH also, just the game though, i just dont see this doing that well, it will sell, but i doubt it will sell that much

deeprosegt
deeprosegt

Absolutezerr - Is it Round and Round by Ratt or is it by Aerosmith? Sleezy grinding riffs me thinks would be much better.

Absolutezerr
Absolutezerr

Sk8er Boi? Oh dear. You've got two wonderful metal anthems by Iron Maiden and Ratt right above it and Spoonman down below and you highlight that particular tune?

s3lFc0nTr0l
s3lFc0nTr0l

This game had a big page ad in the 'lil books they give out at Projekt Revolution... I laughed.

willwithskills3
willwithskills3

I wonder if there's a specific reason Gamespot highlighted *snicker* "Sk8r Boy" in the song selection screen. A warning, perhaps?

GredegHeado-san
GredegHeado-san

@jjmc3: fyi, you can do what you're talking about with the microphone in RB. If you hold one of the face buttons on the controller (forgot which one) and press left\right on the d-pad, you can (all but) mute the vocal track. I prefer it this way, at least when playing alone on a song I know well.

GredegHeado-san
GredegHeado-san

I'll say something to defend this game: if it's like GitaDora, the instruments will actually play exactly when you play them, instead of locking onto perfection which we see in RB\GH. That should add a layer of challenge and realism.

Geek12
Geek12

I dont know about the drum set.. Just becuase a drum set has more than 4 (5 if foot included) inputs doesnt mean its going to make for a better drum game.

ctcy
ctcy

I wonder who's gonna buy this? What with Rock Band 2 and espeically, Guitar Hero World Tour (which I'm looking forward to) already ruling the market. its gonna be a real uphill battle. A pity for Konami. by the way Metal Gear 4 rocks! Stick to that genre Konami!

DAKYON
DAKYON

you wish XxSkankyxX :P

nunoisbigboss
nunoisbigboss

lmao im right there with u skanky mgs4 4 360!!!(fingers crossed)

Vimanesba
Vimanesba

no offense but this game looks bad..... Konami just won't make it this easily to reach RB and GH, they should try other kind of games....

neonfrax2
neonfrax2

Umm.... unless they offer this game and kit for like $14.99, I really can't see people getting into this game. The graphics look detailed, but they sure don't look fun. This is what things would look like if my dad designed video games.

jjmc3
jjmc3

maybe if the guitars had more frets and drums had more notes, and when you sing in the mike it plays your voice not the voice of the acctual song this game would do good. Also needs to be able to play any song you want, that would do good like RB2 is doing

XxSkankyxX
XxSkankyxX

Maybe they will lose enough money on this that they have to port MGS 4 to 360 :) (even if it would be several disks, who cares)

Jigsaw9798
Jigsaw9798

So Konami wants to lose all their MGS4 profits by releasing this dump?

auron_16
auron_16

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

auron_16
auron_16

crap setlist, crap career mode, this game sounds great. and, more covers, something we have'nt seen frequently since the blasphemous things in guitar hero 2!!

copp62
copp62

sorry way way to late to win me over with guitar hero world tour and rock band 2 already out and was there first but it feels so good to see that most of veerybody hates this game. the setlist also looks bad too

Slaughtahouse
Slaughtahouse

watch this be the greatest game to ever grace a console! LOL imagine, this thing is going to crash and burn. Konami, if your going to copy someones idea, atleast get the basics right! I looked at the scrolling fretboard thingy and my brain blewup with confusion.