Good news tinged with bad today - the rumours are indeed true, Rock Band has finally got a release date in Europe, that is to say May 23rd - provided you have an XBox 360 that is. PS2/3 and Wii versions won’t appear until around September time, thanks to a timed exclusive deal. I bet Microsoft had to lay out a pretty penny for this one, Rock Band is one of the most hotly anticipated titles around and I have to admit I’m dying to get my hands on it. I love Guitar Hero, particularly co-op play in Guitar Hero 2 because GH3 strayed too far to the solo play / face-off perfectionists, and the thought of being able to play ¾ player co-op with a great set list and expanded instrument set has me salivating.
If you’re a PS3 owner this is one hell of a kick in the knackers though and as such I feel a bit guilty because a friend of mine has been champing at the bit maybe even more than I have (since you can’t get GH2 on PS3 either). Having been forced to wait this long already, since it’s been out since November in the USA, I know precisely how it feels to be made to wait for something as awesome as this, and it sucks for him to be made to wait longer. I can certainly see why Microsoft wanted to secure this exclusive - outside of the UK, the 360 hasn’t done so well in Europe - but I do wonder whether a few months will make that much difference, especially since some people tell me it’s PS brand loyalty which a lot of people are following in mainland Europe, so a single game (even Rock Band) probably won’t make that much difference. Nevertheless, it’s another reason for me to be deeply thankful I decided to choose the 360 a few months ago; I might have to put up with a rather inelegantly designed console that sounds like a miniature jet engine, but I do have more great games than I know what to do with. Almost.
The bit of bad news which does affect me is the cost - it’s really quite horrific. When I heard that the RRP was going to be £129.99 I felt the need to loosen my collar a little as it was - after all in the USA the full “game + 3 instruments” bundle is US$169, or about £85 at current exchange rates, so this is quite a premium - the usual exchange rate crap we’ve learned to put up with over here. I’ve now discovered that the £129.99 is just for the instrument bundle, the game itself will cost extra! That’s daylight robbery, you can almost buy a whole extra 360 for that. Here’s hoping retailers offer better bundles at a discount, although neither Amazon nor Play seem to have caught up with the news yet. Whatever the case though, the magnitude of this release as the best co-op / party music game available, I’m sure I won’t be able to resist. Which is exactly what they’re counting on I guess - bastards.
Even in the full knowledge that I’m going to get completely shafted in the wallet on the basis of a few bits of moulded plastic and simple circuitry, I can’t wait. 😀
Edit: Of couse the more savvy PS3 owner could import from the US in the mean time, since PS3 games are region free, and you can get DLC if you set up a virtual US credit card. Bit of a hassle though, especially if you have to return anything (some of the early instruments were known to break under regular punishment, not sure what they’re like now).