What's the best game system for Rock Band?
June 5, 2009 10:15 PM   Subscribe

The Beatles: Rock Band - help!

So after reading this thread, I realize I must have this game. I want to pre-order ASAP so I don't end up waiting forever or paying a premium because it's completely sold out. The problem?

I've finally got to decide which game system to go with: Wii, X-Box, or Playstation. I swear I'm not trying to start a PC/Mac flame war - but I don't know the relative strengths/weaknesses of the systems, or even what qualities will be important to me. I trust the collective intelligence here - how do I pick?

Obviously, I'm not a gamer, but I've enjoyed Rock Band, Katamari Damaci and DDR in the past. I've had a great time playing the Wii but don't know how well Rock Band translates to that system. Your experiences, shopping regrets/triumphs, anything you wish you'd thought of sooner all welcome here.

posted by Space Kitty to Shopping (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Xbox 360 has been good to me, as a casual game player. I mostly watch Netflix instant streaming on it, play my Rock Band library, play Dance Dance Revolution, play all the fun little arcade type games that Xbox is great for because there is a well-developed user-created games community (the only fun game I can't play on Xbox is Little Big Planet, sigh). It's a pretty great price these days for the mid-level Pro 60GB version (no one should buy an Xbox 360 Arcade--it's cheaper but not better for what you need because there is basically no harddrive, and you need a harddrive for many reasons). There is no PC/Mac decision involved here... Xbox 360 is a Microsoft platform, and Apple doesn't have a game console. ;)

The Wii is GREAT and has lots of fun game choices (I mean... LOTS of fun game choices, especially for a non-hardcore-gamer-person), but Rock Band on Wii is severely crippled compared to the Xbox version, in my opinion. If you are primarily wanting Beatles Rock Band, I would not recommend a Wii for that.

I think PS3 is a good choice if you are already wanting to play some of the games that have been tied to the Playstation franchise forever. And if you're not already playing those games, I don't think it's too much of a big whoop, unless you really really want a Blu-ray player or something. I see no point in getting a PS3 for my own personal purposes.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:37 PM on June 5, 2009

Xbox 360.

It's a better overall console with a wide-variety of games that is affordable and is also easy to link to a Mac or PC for media sharing. I don't feel it's really necessary to go deep down into the nitty gritty of the console wars, but I've been extremely satisfied with mine (purchased a little over a year ago). I'm not a gamer by any means but I find it's one of the devices I get the most use out of. The only downside of the 360 is online play requires Xbox Live Gold which is $40 a year, however it's a much better experience than PSN or ugh, "Wii Codes" (where you have to call or IM your friend a 16-digit code before then can try to play with you)

As a word of caution: do not invest any money in the Wii. It's a complete waste. It's a novelty console which everyone buys and then uses four times a year when the relatives come over. The graphics are awful, there is no means for purchasing new content (like songs in Rock Band), storage is extremely limited and there is no HD capability.

Should you have any specific questions about either (I've had both), post and I'll lend any experience I can.
posted by cgomez at 10:37 PM on June 5, 2009

Nthing Xbox, though I think you'd enjoy the game on any of them. Is Blu-Ray important? Do you love Wii games? Either of those, among plenty of other reasons, might reasonably sway your decision.
posted by box at 10:45 PM on June 5, 2009

Since you're not a gamer, I'd suggest getting whatever is the cheapest- which is the Xbox 360. You can get them for under $200 and the instrument controllers are the cheapest. I didn't care about looks or wired/wireless and picked up a second guitar for $10 (new).

I believe the 360 is the most compatible across controllers. My original GH2 guitar works with all the GH series as well as Rock Band and Rock Band 2. I have the Rock Band drums which work with Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour.

Definately stay away from the Wii if you're going on price. You need the guitars/drum as well as a Wii controller for each.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:51 PM on June 5, 2009

Do you have any of the systems already? If not, the Wii is probably the most interesting system for a non-gamer to get into. The PS3 has the advantage of also acting as a Blu-Ray player (basically high-def DVDs), if that is something to consider.

While the Wii does not have the graphical chops of the other two systems, I don't find that to be a big detriment, especially when playing the Rock Band/Guitar Hero type games. Frankly, I can't look at anything but the stream of notes when I am playing these games anyway.

One other consideration: If you are at all interested in the Guitar Hero series as well, you may want to consider the Instrument Compatibility Matrix. If you are getting a Wii, for example, you may want to buy the Guitar Hero: World Tour instruments and only the game of Rock Band: Beatles. This is because the GH:WT instruments can be used with Rock Band 2 (and presumably Rock Band: Beatles) but the Rock Band instruments cannot be used with GH:WT. Does that make sense at all?

cgomez: As a word of caution: do not invest any money in the Wii. It's a complete waste. It's a novelty console which everyone buys and then uses four times a year when the relatives come over. The graphics are awful, there is no means for purchasing new content (like songs in Rock Band)

Well, I use my Wii nearly every day; the graphics are perfectly serviceable, especially for a music-based game; and you most certainly can purchase additional songs online (I have done so). Frankly, I'd disregard the advice of a troll/fanboy like this guy.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:56 PM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

360 - xbla is good for the casual gamer. you get the good graphics without the pric etag of the ps3. get one of the 360s with a hard drive, not the "arcade" version.

if you already like the (some would say gimmicky) controls of the Wii - go that route, but i agree with cgomez that it's not really a next gen console as much as it is in a class of its own.
posted by nadawi at 11:07 PM on June 5, 2009

First, if these games are your thing, I'd rule out the Wii. It's its own neat thing, but it's lower-res, its download capabilities are limited. A while ago we rented GHWT for the Wii because at the time that was all we had controllers for, and the game is substantially more limited on the Wii and the game-text was downright hard to read at times because (I guess) it's optimized for HD.

Between the 360 and PS3, meh. Assuming you're going to hook it to an HD set, if you've been enjoying the HD you might think about the PS3 for the blu-rays. Blu-rays make your standard HDTV over cable look like dog shit. Also, the PS3 is a pretty competent streamer and we routinely manage 720p streaming over wireless.

OTOH, the 360 clearly has a wider array of games available for it and is marginally cheaper. It has xbox live, which is by all reports better than playstation network, but also charges for it while PSN access is free.

On the gripping hand, the stuff you've said you like will mostly be available for all systems.

Also, recognize that the gameplay of Beatles Rock Band will just look pretty much like more Rock Band with different sets and characters. The stuff in the animation is just an intro, not the game engine. There's some gameplay here.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:17 PM on June 5, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everybody, this is some great info! I'm starting out from scratch (I'm looking for a tv too, for that matter.) What I'm hearing so far is:

Xbox360 - Good for netflix instant streaming, game variety, price & compatibility of controllers

Wii - Nifty in it's own right, but not the best platform for rock band

PS3 - Doubles as a Blu-Ray player

Which helps info-wise, but it makes deciding more difficult, because there are things I want from each system. :)

Keep the details coming!
posted by Space Kitty at 11:18 PM on June 5, 2009

Well, I use my Wii nearly every day; the graphics are perfectly serviceable

I've played GHWT on both Wii and PS3. PS3 is a different planet graphically. Following the note track is fine (though even then the Wii version seems to omit the screebly purple line connecting the tap notes), but we found it really hard to read the name of the song that was popping up next in a set because the gothic ROCK!!! font just turned to mush. And the stuff going on in the background with the singers and whatnot looks much better on the PS3, which won't matter much to the player but might to others watching.

And, yeah, we don't use our Wii so much anymore, so I don't think that's trolling. I don't think we'll get more games for the Wii except for Nintendo exclusives like Zelda, whenever they deign to release it, and stuff that makes good use of the wacky controllers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:26 PM on June 5, 2009

I don't want to derail this AskMe, but I'd like to address the point Rock Steady made. My cautionary note about the Wii comes from my own personal experience with the console, having purchased one. The system has poor graphics and only comes with a composite video cable. Should you want something that will give even tolerable video output for a modern HDTV, you'll need to buy a component video cable and at this, it's still disappointing compared to the other choices out there. My point about downloadable content on the Wii remains. Harmonix (creators of Rock Band) did create a third-rate content store because of the limitations of Nintendo's platform. I'm offering the most honest appraisal of the casual gamer's buying choice at the moment. Take my advice as you will, but to the OP, as many others have stated, it's not the best choice.
posted by cgomez at 11:28 PM on June 5, 2009

The games you seem to enjoy seem to make you a great candidate for the Wii, actually. They are more casual, social, and not graphically intense. And that's what a lot of the top titles on the Wii are like, so you might as well get a system that's more suited to your own interests (because why spend $250 if you're not going to like the library of games available for it?).

As far as playing Rock Band goes, I enjoy it on the Wii (I've played on various TVs and setups). This isn't really a game for which graphics matter heavily, and as someone else stated, my eyes are usually on the notes approaching me, though I've sung many times and the lyrics come out just fine. I haven't had any trouble reading them in these types of games except for Guitar Hero World Tour.

Downloadable content, if it matters to you to purchase extra tracks can be done in two ways on the Wii - buying "track packs", which are sold as game discs, or downloading songs. Storage capacity isn't huge but it's probably adequate if you're not a huge gamer.

That said, if you want more storage, the best option is the Playstation 3.

The Xbox 360 has multiple storage options, but only Microsoft branded hard discs work with the system, whereas you can choose from whatever manufacturer's compatible hard drive for the Playstation 3. You're not thus locked into one brand or one price/size.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:50 AM on June 6, 2009

Firstly, I think the PS3 has a lot more worth mentioning than just the blu-ray player. So I'm going to put on my "PS3 shill" hat for a second here, if you'll forgive me.

I've been really happy with my PS3 and I never even watch blu-ray on it. The game catalog has a bunch of A+ games in it with more to come, and if you 'skipped' the PS2 like me, you have like a zillion more fantastic games to get into, really cheap. Frankly I don't know if the Xbox has more games at this point, and I don't care; there's more games I want to play on the PS3 than I have time for. If there's exclusives on either side you're excited about, then that should be a big priority in your decision; if not, then I don't think you're going to be hurting for great games on any current system.

Another thing to maybe consider is the PS3 is much more "open" in a lot of nerd-important aspects, like the user-upgradable hard drive and the standards-based interfaces (USB, Bluetooth, UPnP, etc) which make it more extensible in a lot of ways. And wireless networking out of the box. This has made a big difference to me.

The controllers have Wii-like motion sensing built-in, which is cool (...but don't expect the same huge catalogue of motion-based party games you find on the Wii). And the hardware is really solid; I don't know anyone whose PS3 has crapped out on them, whereas the XBox "red ring of death" was not just bad press, it was (and still is?) a pretty huge design defect affecting a huge percentage of owners. So all else being equal, I think the PS3 has the edge in more areas than just the blu-ray drive.

BUT! Having said all that, the XBox will be about $100 cheaper, and Beatles Rock Band is really truly going to be identical in every meaningful way. So if you're truly buying the system just for this one game, I'd say get the XBox and love it.

Oh, but one last caveat! If you want to play multiplayer over the internet, you have to pay for a subscription to XBox Live, whereas Playstation's online services are free. So if you use your XBox online for 2 to 3 years, the subscription fees will have nullified the price difference between the two systems. If you're not playing online then don't sweat it.
posted by churl at 1:26 AM on June 6, 2009

Going off the board, but how about getting a guitar or bass instead? Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of both franchises, and if I had the money, I'd line up to get Beatles Rock Band and whatever system was deemed most suitable for my tastes. But even before the game was announced, I'd already decided to get a bass, and don't regret it (yet). Plus you're not limited to whatever setlist the game will have, even if you get to simulate all the instruments for them... and even if it is a lot easier (although tabs for simpler songs aren't too hard to decipher)

If you still want the game, I'd probably go with the PS3 for its Blu-Ray option. If you have a family, I think a Wii would be more fun, though. I'm not much of a gamer either, but if you're a sports fan, there's always those games to get down the road. Or now. You could also hope that if someone you know has a gaming system, and you could all chip in for Beatles Rock Band (although if that were an option, I'm sure you would've already done that with the other RB/GH games).

I've personally gotten my RB/GH fix by playing the demos at Best Buy. But it depends on how nice the stores are, in terms of them using a memory card so people can play beyond just the short demo playlist. See if your local big box (whatever's left of them anyway) has the different gaming consoles available for you to try out, including but not limited to RB/GH demos.

Now I need to go back to working on "All My Loving." Watch out, YouTube.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 4:33 AM on June 6, 2009

I'll throw in yet another suggestion as well for the 360. So many new features are coming out that are making it more like a set-top box than a game console. I got one thinking I would spend a ton of time playing games on it. Now I only play "real" games maybe once a week on it, but all the other stuff I can do with it mean we use it a lot. Video and music streaming from the computers, Netflix, Xbox Live Arcade games, the upcoming Primetime channel, and the near-future addition of Last.fm, Twitter, Facebook, and probably Hulu make it the ultimate living room media box thingy for me. Yeah, the PS3 has Blu-ray, but not very many of the other features I mentioned.
posted by joshrholloway at 5:36 AM on June 6, 2009

As far as Rock Band, other posters are right in that there's no real difference between the PS3 and 360 versions, which will both be superior to the Wii version. You'll be happy with either one. (I own a PS3 and a Wii.)

However, you say you'll be buying an HDTV at the same time as the console (the position I was in about a year ago). If you're buying an HDTV, you'll probably want one that has a 1080p resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate, just to future-proof it. And then you'll want something that takes advantage of that capability, which leads you to Blu-ray, which leads you to the PS3.

Otherwise, churl has said everything in his post above that I'd say, with the exceptions that currently manufactured PS3s are no longer compatible with PS2 games (only PS1 games), and that whereas I love the motion control of the Wii, I've never ever been happy with the PS3's motion control. Fortunately it's almost never utilized in games, in my experience.

Finally--don't be in a hurry, because I will be shocked if Beatles Rock Band is hard to acquire when it's released. I might possibly be proven wrong on this, but I think a lot of gamers probably already have multiple peripherals stacked up all over the place from umpteen previous versions of RB/GH, and so most of those players will opt for the stand-alone disc instead of the full ensemble package.
posted by Prospero at 6:14 AM on June 6, 2009

I've had all three consoles (sold the Wii but still have the other two). Funnily enough out of all the horror stories you hear about the xbox failing it was the Wii that had to be returned because of a hardware problem.

If I were you I'd go for the xbox - both the PS3 and the Xbox are similar in graphics and power and the library of games (Xbox had a head start, but current new titles generally come out on both). More importantly as you are not already a gamer you may lose interest and not use the system after a few months - so go for the cheaper option which is the Xbox. Also it's great for playing movies, etc. I tend to use it more for that than for gaming these days... Well, until Prototype comes out next week.
posted by Elmore at 7:35 AM on June 6, 2009

I'm a Wii owner and purchased rock band and then rock band 2 program (plus some tracks) for it. It has worked fine for this purpose, but does have limitations relative to the other consoles, as noted above. Also, the purchase of track packs is not as smooth for going from one song to another as just having all the songs on a hard disk.

I'd say if this is your 'killer app' (and I think it is a great choice for one!) I'd steer you away from the Wii. I'm not likely to get away from the money invested, but if I'd had a different console when I'd picked up Rock Band, or an inclination to get one, it would not have been my choice.

OTOH, if you think rock band will be a smaller portion of your use, then just get the console that best fits what you want to play and get rock band for that.
posted by meinvt at 8:19 AM on June 6, 2009

Video and music streaming from the computers, Netflix, Xbox Live Arcade games, the upcoming Primetime channel, and the near-future addition of Last.fm, Twitter, Facebook, and probably Hulu make it the ultimate living room media box thingy for me. Yeah, the PS3 has Blu-ray, but not very many of the other features I mentioned.

Umm, no. The PS3 has an actual web browser, if a bit squirrely, that works up through (IIRC) Flash 9. You can also plug in any usb keyboard (or presumably any wireless usb keyboard). This means that (from all reports anyway):

The PS3 will do hulu.
The PS3 will do facebook.
The PS3 will do twitter.
The PS3 has some last.fm functionality.
The PS3 will do youtube.
The PS3 will do metafilter.

The PS3's browser won't currently work with netflix streaming, though there are workarounds using a networked pc (that also expand last.fm functionality and hulu functionality). You have to pay for the software, but the software costs less than a wireless adapter for the 360.

The PS3 does video and music streaming from networked pcs, both through its web browser and directly through the main control bar. Also you can use any upnp streaming software to stream instead of being tied to Windows Media Player 11. The PS3 will also play damn near any media file you can burn to a DVD or throw onto a thumb drive.

The PS3 has an array of games available through the PSN.

PSN access is free and the PS3 comes with wireless-g networking.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:22 AM on June 6, 2009

I have all three consoles. I wouldn't consider the Wii at all in your deliberations. I really like the PS3 for a Blue-Ray/DVD player. Even with the new Jasper chips in the 360, the PS3 is much quieter. Other than that, I prefer the 360 in almost every comparison. IMO, the interface is better, the controller is more solid, and Xbox Live is much better. I know you pay for it, but you really get what you pay for in this case.

That being said, I don't know that you would really feel regret if you go one way or another if you are only buying it for Rockband.
posted by Silvertree at 9:20 AM on June 6, 2009

If you're buying a new HDTV, then I'd eliminate the Wii off the bat. The gameplay experience is going to be better and more enjoyable on one of the true next-gens. (On the other hand, what kind of games interest you? The Wii is built for casual, and succeeds best at fun local multiplayer games that work for non-gamers.)

Other exclusive games don't seem to be a factor for you, but it's worth mentioning.
XBox 360

Online capabilities. Again, I'm not really sure how important playing online is going to be for you.
All the XBoxes come with wired ethernet cards, and you can purchase a wireless one for 70-ish bucks. They charge for their full-featured services, about 30 bucks a year, when you get the card on sale.
PS3 has built-in wireless, and free online play.

Both of these online services are bound to offer more songs or tracks downloadable for you game, at some point. A Beatles Track Pack will probably be released at some point, too. (You'll get new tracks faster on X/P but they'll come to the Wii eventually.)

From what I've heard, Beatles Rock Band is going to have no backwards compatibility with Rock Band 1/2 songs. The instruments will still be useable though.
posted by graventy at 10:10 AM on June 6, 2009

Husband and both sons are gamers. Husband is professional musician, sons gifted amateurs. Have a few varieties of GH, Rock Band. Will get Beatles. Husband and kids are good. Younger son (13 years old) placed 2nd in city Guitar Hero competition. Have PS3, Wii, Xbox 360. They vote XBox 360.
posted by angiep at 10:35 AM on June 6, 2009

Honestly, you'll probably be quite happy with either the PS3 or the 360 (unless you really want Nintendo-exclusive games, Wii Fit or Wii sports, stay away from the Wii). I have all three, and if you're not a big gamer the differences probably won't matter to you all that much anyway.
posted by agentmunroe at 10:48 AM on June 6, 2009

The PS3 seems to come "more complete" out of the box, while the 360 might require some accessory purchases to get it "up to par." Plus, if you're an ├╝bergeek, you can install Linux on your PS3.

I've been doing a lot of research on this, as I'm also pretty inspired by Beatles Rock Band to finally make the leap into a console, and I think I'm going with the PS3 for all the reasons listed by ROU_X and the reasons I've mentioned.

My understanding is, the Wii has a novel interaction method, but, as has been mentioned, is pretty retro with graphics, etc.
posted by hippybear at 11:20 AM on June 6, 2009

The problem with the Wii is that the software you end up getting is a port made by a third party. Features are shaved off, graphics are worse, and QA is definitely worse. I think most big console shops develop natively for the 360 or PS3 and then farm out from there. It always best to get the native product.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:20 PM on June 6, 2009

Response by poster: I'd like to favorite all the answers - this is a wealth of info and I really appreciate it. Thanks everybody!
posted by Space Kitty at 10:14 PM on June 8, 2009

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