Guitar Hero 3 vs. Rock Band

I go out to eat at the Pizza Ranch with my buddy Matt. One day at lunch, we stopped by his apartment because he had this new videogame that I just had to see. I’d seen kids in Best Buy playing Guitar Hero, but really hadn’t thought much about it. Then I actually gave the chance and fell in love just like everyone else seemingly has.

Fast forward a few months… I currently am working on trying to beat Guitar Hero 2 for the Xbox 360 on Hard. Medium is pretty easy at this point, but hard feels ridiculously… well, hard. I can’t master the orange button. It kills me on even the easier songs. I’m hoping that when life starts slowing down (ie: the temperature crawls down to a temperature where spending time indoors seems like a good idea and/or I stop making trans-continental vacations), I’ll start figuring this game out before the new version (GH3) comes out in October. The only thing that throws a monkey wrench in my plans is the introduction of a new game for the Xbox 360 called Rock Band which is scheduled to be out in October.

There are pro’s and con’s to each game, so I’ve decided to match them up head-to-head in a preliminary (read – I haven’t played either game!) comparison.


Guitar Hero 3 – song highlights include “Cherub Rock” by Smashing Pumpkins, “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam, “My Name is Jonas” by Weezer, “Welcome to the Jungle” by GNR, “Sabotage” by Beastie Boys, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” by Scorpions, “Paint It Black” by the Stones, “School’s out” by Alice Cooper, “Slow Ride” by Foghat, “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse, “The Metal” by Tenacious D, and “Rock and Roll All Night” by Kiss.

Rock Band – song highlights include “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, “Enter Sandman” by Metallica, “Go With the Flow” by Queens of the Stone Age, “In Bloom” by Nirvana, “Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters, “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer, “Tom Sawyer” by Rush, “Vasoline” by Stone Temple Pilots, “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi and “Paradise City by Guns N Roses.

It’s hard to figure out ho has the advantage here, so I broke it down into four cateogries:

Newer Rock – GH3 has Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Weezer, and Beastie Boys. Rock Band has Metallica, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Stone Temple Pilots, Queens of the Stone Age, and a slightly better Weezer song. They both have pretty big names, but in my eyes, Guitar Hero is giving you the top song by Pearl Jam and the Beastie Boys, a top 5 song by Weezer and an average Pumpkins Tune. Rock Band gives you the top song by Metallica, Stone Temple Pilots and Weezer as well as top 10 songs by Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, and Foo FightersAdvantage – Rock Band

Classic Rock – GH3 has some of memorable songs like “Paint It Black,” “Rock and Roll All Nite,” “School’s Out,” and “Slow Ride.” Rock Band gives you a great Black Sabbath song, a great Rush song, a great Who song, a fun Blue Oyster Cult song (just because of SNL), a forgettable Ramones song, and a David Bowie song I’ve never even heard. Advantage – Guitar Hero 3

Somewhat obscure songs – part of what I loved about Guitar Hero 2 is that it introduced me (or reminded me) of some songs that I really loved like “Tattoed Love Boys” by the Pretenders, “Dead!” by My Chemical Romance, and “Who Was in My Room Last Night” by the Butthole Surfers. Guitar Hero 3 will introduce most players to “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour, “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse, “Lay Down” by Priestess, and “She Builds Quick Machines” by Velvet Revolver. Rock Band’s top semi-obscure songs include “Main Offender” by the Hives, “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain, and “Reptilla” by The Strokes. To be honest, I’m giving this one to GH3 because “Knights of Cydonia” is my favorite song on the list. Advantage – Guitar Hero 3

Top 5 songs – At the end of the day, once you get sick of the game, you are only going to pick it up to play your five (or so) favorite songs. For Gutiar Hero 3, the songs I’d play over and over again would be “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sabatoge,” “Even Flow,” “My Name is Jonas,” and “The Metal.” For Rock Band, I can see myself playing a lot of “Enter Sandman,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Vasoline,” “In Bloom,” and “Paradise City.” They are awfully close, but Slight Advantage – Rock Band

New Features it brings to the table

Guitar Hero – Looks like they’ve have wireless controllers for the 360 this time around. The big additons look like different battle modes in 2-player mode. I can see that this would add a ton of fun to the game kind of like in Doctor Mario for the original NES. Slash from GNR is going to be in the game and it looks like “Welcome to the Jungle” is going to be the last song.

Rock Band – Here is where this game dominate. It gives you the ability to play guitar, bass, drums, or sing. If you’ve got friends, you can do more than one. There are three single-player campaigns for each instrument (guitar, drums, and voice) as well as a campaign for the complete band. I’d imagine each of these have different difficulty settings as well. The guitar looks similar to Guitar Hero but with 10 buttones instead of 5 (really doesn’t matter to me). The drums are the coolest addition to the game in my book. If you learn how to play drums on the game, you actually would “learn” how to play drums in real life. Since this is something I’ve always wanted to do, I’m most certainly interested. Big Advatage – Rock Band


Guitar Hero will likely cost $80 if you need the package (Game/Guitar) and $50-60 if you just need the game. Rumors about Rock Band’s price range anywhere from $150-200. I think they would almost do better to try to get the game somewhat affordable (think $80-120). If Rock Band is over $150, Big Advantage – Guitar Hero 3

Complete package

If you’ve got the dough, I’d obviously recommend buying both games. Guitar Hero has a ton of replayablity because Hard and Expert are so difficult. For the casual gamer, though, Rock Band has more replayablity because you can master a couple different instruments on Easy or Medium. Rock Band looks like they are one-upping Guitar Hero with online plays (join an online band, download a full cd and additional Metallica tracks, downloads coming out every single week). At the end of the day, though, Guitar Hero is the proven game and Rock Band is really going to have to be something special to de-throne the champ especially at nearly twice the price. The good news for gamers is that having two rock games on the market is going to up the ante and prevent Guitar Hero from being able to cash it releasing a new game with no new meaningful features just new songs (see: Madden 2005-2008).

For the record, I also realize that there is a Guitar Hero: Rock the 80s coming out. If you are a fan of the 80s, there is no way you can’t get this. It’s got “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls, “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister, “Hold on Loosely” by .38 Special, “What I Like About You” by The Romantics, “Ballroom Blitz” by Krokus, and “Nothin’ But a Good Time by Poison. If you can’t get excited for this game, I feel sorry for you.


The last thing I want to include is a list of ideas that I have for both the Guitar Hero or Rock Band franchise. My first idea is to get real guitar players as playable characters! Seriously… how hard would this be? When I play MLB baseball, I want to pitch with Johan Santana, not “Player Number 57” who bears no resemblance. Take a look at a game like Def Jam Icon. Musicians are celebrities and I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t want to be in the game. Some of them obviously wouldn’t because they wanted more money (see: Metallica) or they were snobbish about where and when their music gets used (see: Led Zeppelin). Here’s my purposed list of guitar players, though. I’ve put them into a few categories.

Guitar Legends – Make these guys unlockable after beating the game on each level (easy, medium, hard, & expert)
Jeff Beck
Eric Clapton
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Jimi Hendrix

Classic Rockers
Randy Rhoads (Ozzy)
Pete Townshend (The Who)
Joe Perry (Aerosmith)
Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)

80’s Guitar Gods
Angus Young (AC/DC)
Eddie Van Halen
The Edge (U2)

Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave)
Kurt Cobain
Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction)
Mike McCready (Pearl Jam)

Punk Rockers
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day)
Joe Strummer (The Clash)
Tim Armstrong (Rancid)
Tom DeLonge (Blink-182)

Indie Rockers
Jack White (The White Stripes)
Claudio Sanchez (Coheed & Cambia)
John Mayer
Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)

That’s just an idea, but tell me that this wouldn’t be cool. I’m guessing a lot of these guys would say no, but some of them would want to be in the game.

If you’re out on your bike tonight, do wear white,