Released on November 20th, 2007, this Harmonix-developed and EA/ MTV-published music game provided players with four instruments-- guitar, vocals, drums, and bass guitar--which are controlled by different instrument-shaped controllers. The basic gameplay for the guitar, bass, and drums are similar to Guitar Hero, and the vocals bear a strong resemblance Konami's Karaoke Revolution. Both of these similarities are unsurprising, as Harmonix originally developed both of those franchises.
Rock Band has several modes of play, including a multiplayer Band World Tour, a single player Solo Tour, both Solo and Band Quickplay modes, and various tutorial stages and competitive quickplay modes as well. Rock Band ships with 58 songs, 51 of which are master recordings (the remaining 7 being covers). The game also features a built-in Music Store, where users can choose to purchase from hundreds of songs, song packs, and entire albums, with new content added every week. A complete listing can be found here: Rock Band DLC.
The guitar sections are almost identical to the early Guitar Hero system, except the gems are now rectangular instead of circular. They have implemented a more robust hammer-on and pull-off system which allows them to manually place these in songs instead of having them automatically detected. Overdrive (Rock Band's equivalent of star power) is still activated by either tilting the guitar upwards or by pressing the select button. This guitar features solo buttons, which are located further down the neck of the guitar, and closer to the body. These solo buttons allow for the user to play through solos in certain game tracks without having to strum the strum bar. During these solo sections, the track becomes a translucent blue, and players earn bonus points at the end of the section based on the percentage of solo notes they hit.
The drums are designed to be similar to real drums. They are played using regular drum sticks and the pads themselves are very similar to practice pads. The gameplay of the drums is similar to that of the guitar and bass, however there are only four regular notes. This is supplemented by a kick/bass pedal. The bass pedal is represented by a horizontal orange line on-screen. Overdrive is activated by completing freestyle drum fills, then hitting the green pad (representing the crash cymbal). The red pad generally acts as the snare drum, however substitutes the yellow as the high hat (and yellow as snare) during long sections of quick, repetitive high hat hits that have snare hits every downbeat (or other similar beats), to give the players a more natural feel as opposed to being forced to cross their arms to hit the snare. The yellow pad, for the most part, acts as the high hat, but also plays as the snare and a tom. The blue either represents a ride cymbal or tom, and green either a crash cymbal or tom. During the freestyle fills, the red is the snare, yellow and blue are toms, and green is the crash cymbal.
The vocal track features a horizontal scrolling bar with lines to represent the pitch. Depending on the user's preference, the lyrics either scroll beneath the bar in time with the music, or remain stationary and change color as the music progresses, similar to classic karaoke systems. The style used is reminiscent of the Karaoke Revolution games, which Harmonix also developed. The current pitch being sung is represented by an arrow on-screen which can then be used to judge if the pitch needs to be lowered or raised. Overdrive energy is obtained by singing specially marked phrases accurately. Once enough energy has been collected, Overdrive can be activated any time a yellow section without pitch guides shows up, usually during a break in the vocals. During some of the longer vocal breaks, vocalists must hit or tap the microphone to simulate instruments such as a tambourine, cowbell, and hand clapping. Rather than lyrics, small circles scroll across the vocal bar during these sections, which notify when players must strike the microphone, similar to playing notes on the guitar or drums. While missing these notes has no penalty in terms of how well the vocalist is doing, hitting them earns the player/band points, along with a bonus amount of points at the end of the section determined by the percent of notes hit, similar to the guitar solos.
For guitar, drums and vocals only. This is the single player career mode component of Rock Band, and strongly resembles the tiered structure of the Guitar Hero games. As the player rises through the tiers, the difficulty of the songs increase. The score a player receives at the end of a song may be added to their career score, which is the total of the highest scores of all the songs played at that difficulty. A player can compare their career score with others across the country through online leaderboards.
This is the quick, get in and play mode of Rock Band. Quick Play available for any single instrument, or combination of. This mode can be played either online or off, with remote players filling in for band members if the host chooses. The scores achieved in this mode are not recorded onto leaderboards.
This is the multiplayer co-op career mode of rock band. The player must create a band with multiple people and go on tour like a real band. Travelling from city to city, the player has a choice of different venues to play at, each with several different set lists. Initially, set lists are short, with one or two songs, and most of the cities and venues are locked. Playing through set lists unlocks new cities, venues, set lists, and songs as well as extras such as tour buses and jets. After enough set lists have been completed, the endless set list is unlocked, which has the band play through all 58 on-disc songs non-stop.
Score duels is when two players compete for the highest score on the same song under the same difficulty. Players will play through the song and simply see who comes out with the higher score. This is also the main multiplayer component of rock band.
Players will take turns playing sections of the song trying to win the crowd's favor. Played on the same difficulty, this is similar to the guitar hero's face off mode. This is also the other multiplayer component of rock band.
The soundtrack consists of 58 songs listed by band in alphabetical order, as well as additional downloadable content. The on-disc songs are (* indicates a cover, ~ indicates songs that can not be exported to Rock Band 2):
All DLC is cross-compatible between different games in the Rock Band franchise.
Rock Band's peripherals, particularly the drum kit and guitar, are noted to have many issues and poor lifespans, that in some cases renders them unusable.
The drum heads suffer a variety of different issues. The most common is that they will not register hits or will have "cross talk," which is where vibrations through the frame causes another drum to go off. The drum heads are also known to crack after long enough use, and the pads used on the heads may "bubble," resulting in dropped hits.
The guitar is known for having a faulty strum bar that will not register all strums, if any at all, while strumming in a particular direction (up or down). It may also register "double strums," meaning strumming once will register as two strums instead of only one.
Thankfully, Harmonix and EA is took an early awareness to these issues and customers were able to replace any faulty equipment free of charge using the Rock Band customer service page on EA's website.
Besides being able to export the songs to the hard drive via in game menu, you can also install the game to your HDD
Rock Band requires 5.2 GB of space to be installed on an Xbox 360 HDD.