‘Rock Band 4’ Review: The Full Piece Ensemble Franchise Rises Again

Game: Rock Band 4
Consoles: PS4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Publisher: Harmonix, Mad Catz
Developer: Harmonix

The tragic degradation of the rhythm music genre was hard to watch. While genre defining games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band made gamers everywhere invest in plastic instruments, pointless releases and an over-saturation of peripheral addled games cut such a major movement short. Harmonix took a few years off, gave digital musicians a breather and are now back with its 4th main Rock Band selection.

Millions of gamers have played the guitar, bass, drums or sung behind each note perfectly (or tragically) to their favorite songs once before with Rock Band. This current-gen sequel brings that same addictive note-playing gameplay back to the forefront and it hasn’t lost a step. The scrolling note highway and splashy colors still accentuate the 4-person cover band playing their hearts out on stage in front of a raucous crowd. The new freestyle sections are the freshest part of this return to Rock Band. Going off on the guitar or microphone during these freestyle portions of a song are a true joy to play and watch. The live crowd truly comes alive as you play with cool guitar distortion effects or sing at a higher pitch to change up the flow of a song.

Buy the Rock Band 4 Wireless Fender Stratocaster Guitar Controller and Software Bundle.

Buy the Rock Band 4 Band-in-a-Box Software Bundle.

Any great music game worth its weight has to feature a collection of excellent songs to play through. Rock Band 4 thankfully comes with an eccentric lineup of artists. Fall Out Boy, Breaking Benjamin, Aerosmith and even Snoop Dogg pop up to give the default soundtrack some much needed flair and variety. The option to download several songs you previously bought in past versions of this series will give you even more options to jam to. Adding classic songs from Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers and more will guarantee you’ll put even more countless playtime into this new entry.

With so many great songs on your tracklist, you’ll get the most enjoyment out of them through the new tour mode. You and a group of three musicians get to play out their journey to the top in a fun story mode structure. Twists and turns on your road to stardom are plentiful and give you different ways to play. Managing your band through this trek to the top will gift you with more fans, stars for new setlist destinations and cosmetic items. The downloadable library of songs you’ve bought before are integrated here, which helps keep the tour track selection from growing stale.

Rock Band 4 maintains its standing as a quality music party game, but its missing several key features from before. There’s no longer an option for online play, which is huge omission. On top of that, pro guitar support and keyboard play have also been omitted. It’s easy to see that Harmonix went into this game with a back-to-basics approach, which is fine. But for the series 1st move to current-gen consoles, past features shouldn’t be missing at all. The gameplay format remains the same, which may deter gamers burnt out on the series from returning.

Bottom Line

Rock Band 4

Rock Band 4 is still one of the best ways to live out your musical dreams. Harmonix has made sure to enlist a great number of artists to provide an even stronger list of songs to rock out to. The freestyle sessions give each tune some extra flavor and players the chance to deviate from playing whatever scrolling down the screen. Going on tour is a blast due to the different choices you can make and differing paths that change how you’ll play. While the core gameplay hasn’t really dramatically changed and several key features are missing, this sequel is still worth returning to.

Score: 8.5/10

Pros:

  • Tour Mode is actually a cool implementation that puts your huge song list and additional players to good use
  • The freestyle guitar and vocal solos gives would-be entertainers the chance to provide their own spin to every song
  • The set list you’ll play through comes with a wide range of musical stylings and artists

Cons:

  • Nothing truly groundbreaking has been added to the game’s various modes or gameplay
  • Several past features are noticeably absent here

Buy the Rock Band 4 Wireless Fender Stratocaster Guitar Controller and Software Bundle.

Buy the Rock Band 4 Band-in-a-Box Software Bundle.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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