Meta-Review: Rock Band 4 (PS4, Xbox One)

rockband4Dust off your plastic instruments ladies and gentlemen because we are getting the band back together. Until this month’s release, I thought Harmonix’s Rock Band to be of a special time and place, ie a mid-console generation deviation from standard gameplay and control mechanics to a more social, tangible peripheral experience. By the time Rock Band and Guitar Hero had near maxed out the entire expanse of rock and roll, the games themselves started to feel somewhat stale. Yet here we are in 2015, and Rock Band (and later Guitar Hero) have returned. But is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Well I guess that all depends on how much you care about legacy instruments and your past DLC. Let’s check out what the reviewers have to say:

Games Radar+: It’s impossible to overstate how much Harmonix and Mad Catz have achieved here by securing legacy support for both existing instruments and downloadable content. This is the only Rock Band game that will be released for current gen systems, with downloadable updates keeping it fresh throughout the rest of the generation. If you have any interest in rhythm action (or indeed music), then it’s one you simply must have in your collection. (5/5)

IGN: The track list that comes on the Rock Band 4 disc is a little light on memorable songs, but thanks to admirable backward compatibility with a huge DLC catalog, Rock Band 4 remains every bit the magical cooperative gaming experience the series has always been. Getting a band together in the living room to rock out creates some incredible moments of musical joy. On top of that, a new career mode injects some fun personality and decision-making, while solos let you express yourself mid-song without penalty. Rock Band still fulfills its potential to make me feel like a superstar musician and, like 65-year-old Bruce Springsteen still doing killer three-hour shows , proves that it’s still got “it.” (8.8/10)

Game Informer: In this year’s music-game scene, Rock Band 4 offers tried-and-true polish, and an impressive opportunity for backward compatibility. Whether you’re importing a back catalog or not, the new title stands on its own with smart music selections, and skill-based gameplay refined over years of experimentation. After a few years away, I’d almost forgotten how fun the Rock Band experience can be. (8.75/10)

The Jimquisition: If you’ve never had a Rock Band game before, this is as good a time as any to jump in, but be aware that you’ll be wanting to peruse that huge store of downloadable content in order to get a setlist you’re happy with. Series veterans, however, will have no such trouble, and very little reason not to check this one out. It’s a good basis for something that has potential to get even better as the years go on. (7.5/10)

Game Spot: Rock Band 4 recaptures the unadulterated gratification that made the series such a hit half a decade ago, but mainly because it’s a relatively unchanged, repackaged Rock Band 2. A lack of content and general stagnation hold this particular iteration of Rock Band back, but new ideas like Freestyle Solos genuinely enhance the core experience, which remains a sincere and joyful celebration of music. (7/10)

Follow Tom on Twitter @thomaskagar

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