Rock Band vs Guitar Hero
February 21, 2009 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Rock Band or Guitar Hero for Xbox 360? Possibly mitigating factors inside.

-- Household until now has played Guitar Hero titles on a PS2.
-- No one is wildly talented, so easier gameplay a bonus.
-- Kid friendly settings (e.g., true co-op) a BIG bonus.
-- Musical tastes range from 80s to stereotypically indie to metal. Yes, we are aware of the upcoming Guitar Hero release and yes, we have Xbox LIVE.
-- Any other factor(s) we should consider are worth mentioning.

I was surprised that this question has not been asked previously as far as I could see, so feel free to mention anything that might help someone dealing with the basic decision. Thanks!
posted by gnomeloaf to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, my daughter and I play Rock Band 2 on the 360 and we played PS2 Guitar Hero previously. I notice there is a bit of a timing difference with the guitar from GH but I nailed it within about a half an hour no big deal. We do play co-op where I play guitar and she plays drums or sings and it's quite fun. There are different skill settings for each player so one can play a song in co-op on Expert while the other plays on easy or any combination therein. The various downloads on Live are nice too as you can find a large variety of stuff there.
posted by barc0001 at 8:41 PM on February 21, 2009

You can mix and match the instruments and use them for both games. I prefer the rock band guitars because what is up with that solo strip that you are supposed to run your finger up and down for solos on the GH guitars. The rock band strats are much better. The GH drums I think are better than the RB2 drums. They already come with the cymbals so you don't have to buy them separate and they support double kick pedal without doing any dubious 3rd party workarounds (see GH Metallica). Overall RB2 is a better game than GHWT and personally I prefer RB's selection of DLC. RB2 has no fail mode, I'm not sure about GHWT. Finally, the most fun 3rd party accessory you can add is a mic stand with a boom from a music store. I got one for 50 bucks, YMMV. The ones at the video game stores are no good because they don't have a boom so they dont work for sitting down playing the drums or guitar while singing.
posted by who else at 8:43 PM on February 21, 2009

Just a note based on who else's comment. I couldn't get the original Rock Band guitar to work with Guitar Hero 3 on the Xbox 360. No idea if that's still an issue with the Rock Band 2 guitar, or whatever, but I wanted to point it out in case you plan to get the other GH titles once you have invested in all of the instruments.
posted by cabingirl at 8:53 PM on February 21, 2009

In terms of musical taste, you should decide for yourself based on the song lists (GH:WT song list; RB2 song list).

I assume everyone in the world except me has a flat-panel, widescreen TV, but in case you don't: the lyrics for the vocals in GH:WT (for Wii, and I've heard on other systems) are virtually illegible on a non-widescreen TV. I have no idea about RB2.

GH:WT has the same feature that barc001 mentioned where players can choose individual skill settings.
posted by wintersweet at 9:03 PM on February 21, 2009

We've got both Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour; for what it's worth, I like the graphics and overall feel of Rock Band a bit better than GHWT. I think the two song lists are more or less comparable, and really it just boils down to which game has more titles you're familiar with. Also, I think the approach to selecting songs in RB is slightly less linear than it is in GHWT. and there are no "boss battles" as there are in the Guitar Hero series.

Our RB instruments work with GHWT, though the lack of cymbals make it much harder to trigger your star power on drums in GHWT. And actually, now I think of it we're using a Guitar Hero guitar controller as our second guitar in RB, and it also works without any problems.

Finally, our 5-year-old son likes the no fail option in GHWT better than in RB, for some reason. And it's true that turning on the "no-fail" option in RB means you can't save your progress, so you can't do a tour in that mode. GHWT has a "beginner" option that allows band members to play in a tour and not fail (e.g., the beginner guitarist only has to hit the strum bar, not the note buttons). So that might be worth considering -- RB's no-fail is alright for casual play, GHWT is better for full gameplay.
posted by Janta at 9:30 PM on February 21, 2009

I think the difficulty in GHWT ramps up a lot more than in RB2 -- in other words, the difference between "easy" and "medium" is greater in GHWT. I think GHWT arranges their songs better, but I like RB2's catalog more.

That being said, the big investment is the instruments and they can be used for either game. So buy one with the instruments, and then later buy the other if you get into fake rock bands.
posted by lockestockbarrel at 9:58 PM on February 21, 2009

I would vote for RB2. I think the interface is much better, from a solo and local group standpoint. I bought GHWT and played it once (I didn't like the UI at all, and I had already played 90% of the songs in RB).

Also, here is the hardware compatibility matrix.
posted by SirOmega at 11:14 PM on February 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

the lyrics for the vocals in GH:WT (for Wii, and I've heard on other systems) are virtually illegible on a non-widescreen TV. I have no idea about RB2.

I play RB2 on a non-widescreen TV, and haven't had any problems with readability.
posted by tomatofruit at 11:21 PM on February 21, 2009

I've been playing Guitar Hero since the first version and I could never get the hang of the Rock Band Stratocaster guitar. The strum lever is more 'squishy' (which I guess is because Harmonix knows real strumming doesn't go click-click) and my arm fatigues more because of it. It's almost impossible for me to play through T. Rex's "Get It On" at 100% expert because my arm cramps so much. I heard the new Rock Band 2 Strat is much looser with strumming but I haven't tried it yet. I sick with my Guitar Hero 3 guitar and all is peachy.

It's easier to cheat in Rock Band on vocals than with Guitar Hero.

I wish cymbals were included with Rock Band. Unlike GH:WT, they're sold separately

All that being said, Rock Band 2 is a much better value. You get 100 songs (also get a copy of rock band 1 + $5 upgrade fee and poof, 55 more songs), there's more variety (This week's downloads includes Neko Case and Lucina Williams), plus their co-op mode is more refined and makes more sense. It's way too easy for one person to fail in GH:WT and bring down the whole band.

And to be nitpicky, I think the Guitar Hero cut scenes and characters are a little pointless.
posted by sammich at 1:12 AM on February 22, 2009

er. i ment stick, not sick.

I also forgot to mention that big thing GH:WT has that Rock Band doesn't is the ability to make your own songs and share with others. There's a nice multitrack recording feature that can get pretty deep and complex. You can probably spend whole days playing with it. However, the custom songs I've downloaded sounds too synthy and midi-ish.
posted by sammich at 1:28 AM on February 22, 2009

One thing I'm wondering as a Rock Band 2 hardware owner is how the RB2 drum kit works in GH:WT. From what I can see in GH:WT you have 3 pads, 2 cymbals and a kick drum, and RB has 4 pads and a kick drum, which would suggest to me that the RB hardware is missing a critical control, is it not?

And to chime in on the widescreen/nonwidescreen thing, I play RB2 in 4:3 aspect mode and have never had any problems with the visuals for anything, lyrics are fine, though I play through a VGA cable to my projector at 1024x768 (which is what res the 360 is set to in the control panel), not sure if that makes a difference.
posted by barc0001 at 3:11 AM on February 22, 2009

One thing I'm wondering as a Rock Band 2 hardware owner is how the RB2 drum kit works in GH:WT. From what I can see in GH:WT you have 3 pads, 2 cymbals and a kick drum, and RB has 4 pads and a kick drum, which would suggest to me that the RB hardware is missing a critical control, is it not?

I heard that if you use the RB drums in GHWT, GHWT "knows" that you're using one less drum and changes the drum track not to include it. So it's not an issue, basically.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:24 AM on February 22, 2009

My son's able to play every instrument on easy for Rock Band (and got very upset when we turned on no-fail and he realized he couldn't save his progress).

So if your kid is anything like mine (hee) that might not necessarily need to be an option.

Can you customize your characters in GH? My kid has a lot of fun picking out just the right chest tattoos for his avatar to wear in RB - something to consider.
posted by Lucinda at 5:56 AM on February 22, 2009

Man, I love Rock Band 2 (with imported songs from 1). Words cannot express my adoration. But I haven't played GHWT, so I can't compare the two.
posted by lizzicide at 6:28 AM on February 22, 2009

One other thing to keep in mind is DLC compatibility/song exporting.

Any purchases that people made for GH3 were not compatible with GHWT; the songs on the disc for GH3 weren't exportable into GHWT.
RB1 DLC, on the other hand, worked without any effort on RB2, and as sammich said, you can export most of the songs off RB1 for $5, which is a ridiculous value. You can also export off of some of the "track packs", like the AC/DC one, so that you can use the songs back in the main game.

Because of this, Rock Band (as a platform) has over 400 songs as of last month. Rock Band World Tour currently has 87, according to the Wikipedia list). This isn't a gap that's likely to close, given that GHWT gets about 3 tracks a week and RB is typically seeing 6.

Past results don't indicate future performance, but Harmonix/EA have shown they do have an understanding of how music game DLC should work - an understanding that Neversoft/Activision are still working on achieving.

Also something to keep in mind: Activision is fully intent on cranking out a new version of GH every year; Harmonix has said that because they're focusing on the Beatles game, there won't be a full blown new RB title this year - they'll just keep building the library with DLC.
posted by Remy at 6:30 AM on February 22, 2009

Another factor - the female characters in the Guitar Hero franchise ended up being highly sexualized somewhere along the line. The Rock Band characters are slightly better balanced (although there are skin-baring outfits for both genders). I don't think I'm very politically correct, but I find character design in GH:WT offputting to the point where I never even bothered to play through the game when I rented it.
posted by Gortuk at 6:49 AM on February 22, 2009

(also get a copy of rock band 1 + $5 upgrade fee and poof, 55 more songs)



s/get/buy used and resell after/
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:14 AM on February 22, 2009

I fell in love with Guitar Hero initially, but have spent more time playing RB2 since we bought it. As has been mentioned above, the graphics are better, and the song lists are more or less comparable. I also noticed that the selection is better in Rock Band before you end up wanting to purchase new tracks. I may be wrong, but it seems you are able to earn more songs instead of having to run out and buy points.

I haven't bought a drum set yet, but have been more than happy/busy with my choice of Bass, Guitar or singing- you don't need to buy a mic either as you can plug your regular 360 headset into a controller and sing into that- the quality is probably lower, but that hasn't seemed to affect my success in singing.

As Gortuk mentions, the female characters are significantly more realistic, and you can create a character based on yourself, rather than choosing from the list of rail-thin presets. This may be a big selling point for you if your family includes impressionable young girls. As a 20-something young woman, even I appreciate not having my self represented with a relatively 'normal' avatar.

Guitar Hero was simply a gateway for me. I really suggest you go for RB2. I can't speak for online play for either of them, but in terms of basic tours/quick play you get bigger bang for your buck, IMO.
posted by sunshinesky at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2009

I bought a 360 and Rock Band 2 after getting advice from AskMe. I then got the Guitar Hero World Tour game, with guitar only, so we could have both games and two guitars. GHWT seems to go on sale semi-regularly; we got game+guitar for $75.

From playing the two, Rock Band 2 seems clearly better. First, it is the only game we can play with our two little ones, as GHWT does not have a "no fail" mode and even though they love playing the game our kids don't really know what they are doing. Second, the controls and graphics feel more friendly in Rock Band 2. Third, with the Rock Band 1 song imports the list of playable songs - especially if you unlock everything with red yellow blue red red blue blue red yellow blue - in Rock Band 2 is really long and keeps you interested for a long time. (Of course you could swap out discs if you wanted to play other songs but that is a pain when you want to just play music.)

On the import note, I went to GameStop and they had RB1 used for $30. I told them, honestly, that I really just wanted it to import songs, so $30 was too much. They said "well just buy it, go home, import the songs, bring it right back, and return it." I said "really? you don't care?" They said (and I quote) "what do we care? As long as you keep your receipt and come back in 7 days you can return it for any reason." So it was two car rides and $5 to get all the Rock Band 1 songs. I'm sure GameStop employees most places have this attitude, and they won a dedicated customer in me when they were so cool about it.
posted by AgentRocket at 9:03 AM on February 23, 2009

Another vote for Rock Band 2 here.

I played Guitar Hero on PS2 since the first one, and loved it. But when I got RB, it just clicked that here was the future of plastic instrument games ;) I miss some of the songs from the early games but instead of going back and playing them, I just wish they could bring them to Rock Band. I did rent GH:WT, but couldn't play it for more than an hour or so.

A few specifics:
  • The Rock Band 2 song library is just insane, constantly growing, and puts the Guitar Hero selection to shame. 3+ songs every single week. There's something for everyone in there. Rent or borrow RB1 and pay $5 to get the songs off the disc.
  • The actual gameplay, the notecharts and such, feels much more polished in Rock Band. GH looks and feels very clunky by comparison.
  • GH:WT does have the studio where you can create your own songs. I didn't mess with it for very long, could be fun. The tracks available online that have been created by other people are very bad.
  • The biggest problem with Rock Band is the strummer on the guitar: piece of crap, especially since you'll be coming from GH guitars. I replaced the strummer on mine with a third-party one, I'd recommend doing that or just using a GH guitar.

posted by Who_Am_I at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2009

Voting Rock Band 2. I also just got an xbox, and got RB2 based on quite a few suggestions. Great music library (I rented RB1 and downloaded maybe 10 songs). I like the RB guitars better than the GH ones; I don't like the *click click* of the GH guitars, but that's mostly personal preference.
posted by craven_morhead at 4:54 PM on March 1, 2009

Response by poster: While I still have not taken the leap, I will probably buy the Rock Band 1 box o'instruments and then upgrade it all to RB2. Thanks so much for all of your responses, they were very helpful.
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:57 PM on March 24, 2009

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