Rock Revolution Review
It's a mystery as to why it took Konami so long to release a rhythm game of their own. After all, the publisher's Bemani games paved the way for titles like Guitar Hero and RockBand. If anything, it should've been Konami to follow Activision's Guitar Hero with a band franchise, not EA, seeing as how the formula for the genre has been there for Konami for a while. For 2008, Konami planned to change this in hopes of taking back their crown with Rock Revolution, but ultimately Konami fell well short of their goal.
Just like RockBand, Rock Revolution will feature a guitar and drums setup, with the guitar including bass playing. Konami plans to offer 40 songs on the game disc, spanning across many genres, in addition to a horde of downloadable content that'll arrive in intervals after the game's release. And like RockBand 2 or Guitar Hero: World Tour, Rock Revolution also boasts a freestyle Jam Mode. You can pick up your guitar/bass or drums and jam away freely, putting together your own riffs, melodies, and then recording them. You'll be able to record across eight different tracks/layers, by utilizing the game's in-game multi-track studio. Layers allow you to add various riffs or melodies per track, such as layering a solo or melody over the guitar rhythm and drums, and etc.
But that's about where the appeal of Rock Revolution ends. Once again, Konami has fallen victim to the problem of licensing and resorted to song covers. Much like their Karaoke Revolution games, instead of licensing the use of an actual song, Konami merely gets the right to put together a cover version. So instead of Serj Tankian of System of a Down, you get, well, someone who sounds nothing like him. The same applies to every other song in the game.
It's clear that the reason Konami went this route is to save some coin on licensing fees, but consequently, the results are abysmal and make for a product that's not remotely worth the money. Had Konami licensed the songs properly, I'd be singing a different tune and have encouraged you to make a purchase. Because, quite frankly, the list of songs here is actually quite good, featuring System of a Down, Soundgarden, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Korn, Judas Priest, Breaking Benjamin, The Ramones, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Wolfmother, Queen, Motley Crue, and more. By now, looking at that list of bands you should be thinking to yourself how much wasted potential Rock Revolution has. But I have to be honest, it's the singing in particular that isn't very good in these covers, the voices simply sound nothing like their proper counterparts. The guitar, bass, and drum work is largely decent in the songs.
But things get worse. You may, or may not, have noticed that I haven't once mentioned a microphone or any singing aspect of Rock Revolution's, and that's because it doesn't have one. That's right, where as Rock Band and Guitar Hero: World Tour boast capability for a full band ensemble, Rock Revolution limits you to just guitar, bass, and drums. The reason for this limitation is one of two: 1) Konami didn't want to affect sales of Karaoke Revolution, or B) Because it's a bit difficult to sing to covers.
Konami has essentially sabotaged their own game, because even the charts for each song are very well done. So had these not been covers, and had we actually gotten a karaoke option, this would've easily scored as high as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, unfortunately Rock Revolution is far too hollow to even justify its budgeted price tag. While the Jam Mode can be good fun for practicing and recording, the other games have it too. On top of that, the drum set is rather awkward and is nowhere near as intuitive to use as the other two games. Lastly, why does Konami use Scars on Broadway's "World Long Gone" in the commercial, but doesn't even have the song featured in the game? This game simply makes no sense to me, I'd like to say it's a last minute effort, but Rock Rev has been in development since late 2007.
Visually, Rock Revolution looks pretty decent. Performances take place in real life locations, one such being Las Vegas. The game looks as you'd expect, band on stage, audience below, stage lighting, some effects here and there, and that's about it. It's kind of hard to mess the visuals in a game like this, so Rock Revolution passes here with ease. There aren't any seriously plaguing issues to speak of, but there are no wow moments here, either. It's average stuff.
Naturally, because the songs here are covers, the audio isn't as enjoyable to listen to. Where as I encourage you to turn up the volume on Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there's nothing to turn up here. Turning up the volume in Rock Revolution only means that you have to hear the cover singers louder, which only helps in finding more flaws with the covers.
All in all, as you can no doubt tell, Rock Revolution is not a very good game. It's got a great soundtrack and good charts, but the use of covers is painful to listen to, largely thanks to the singing - it's just that lackluster. Additionally, not having the ability to sing along further hurts this game's already lacking replay value. If Konami plans to keep at it, then hopefully next year's Rock Revolution boasts a proper, fully licensed soundtrack, karaoke, a realistic drumset, and a robust backend of songs to be purchased. As it stands now, don't be fooled by the budget price, this game isn't worth it.
11/28/2008 Arnold Katayev