Monday, January 31, 2011

Rock Band Pro Guitar with the You Rock

At long last, I have gotten to use my You Rock guitar to play Rock Band 3 in Pro Guitar mode. I only played one song, twice, before I had to give up the TV, but that was enough to get an idea for how much of an adjustment it will be.

The song was one of the easiest in the game, I Love Rock 'n Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. And it's really surprising how little there is to do. If you think of the song, you probably figure it wouldn't be hard to play -- and I bet it's not -- but on easy mode, you're playing about one note out of every group of chords. The song goes two chords, pause, two chords, pause, one note or chord; then repeat. In all of that, you play three notes, and in most cases, they're open-string notes, so you don't even need to finger a fret.

Even so, it was a bit challenging. Part of that was how I just jumped in with no more training than a single play through the very first lesson. A bigger part was how, after a whole song of playing open strings and fret 2, the solo suddenly threw me to fret 9, and I hadn't even counted out to see where those were. Though on my second try, I didn't do any better -- in fact, I got 87% on my first try and 84% on my second.

Having played guitar before, though never well, I think that's probably pretty good. I would never expect to be able to just pick up a guitar and play even the simplest song without going through it once slowly, at a very minimum. So while it's kind of a letdown not to have at least been strumming both of the two chords that come in pairs (would that have really been much harder?) at the same time it's really amazing, when you think about it, that you can pick up a guitar and do anything even distantly approximating just playing a song, in real time, on the first try.

In a way that shows what a challenge it is for Rock Band to make this an enjoyable experience. It'd be quite easy for them to make it so that it's too challenging to be enjoyable, and to lose the interest of those who just want to dive in and start playing, and for whom the idea of having to practice a song before they can play it well is off-putting. But of course those people can just play non-pro mode. But even for me, will I find it more challenging than enjoyable?

Ultimately of course I am going to focus on drums. But I do want to also try the other instruments in pro mode. I've heard that, on the You Rock, if you plug in to an amp you can hear what you're really playing as you play the game, and that in Expert mode, you get pretty close to actually playing the song. I don't imagine I'll ever have enough time to spend doing that -- I'm only up to Medium on drums as it is, and dabbled in Hard once or twice, and my lack of talent is far more pronounced on guitar than drums, and I've spent a lot more time on them -- but it's nice to at least be able to aim in that direction.

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