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For those about to rock, a choice

Tired of seeing Guitar Hero hog the stage, EA tries to steal the show with Rock Band.

December 06, 2007|Pete Metzger | Special to The Times

Sing along now: Anything you can do I can do better. I can do anything better than you.

So the folks at Electronic Arts want to have their own version of the wildly popular Guitar Hero franchise but figure that if they make a straight copy they'll look like cheap imitators. So instead they raise the bar and fix everything that is wrong with cyber rocking. Namely, "What if I want to be more like Ringo, less like Paul?"

No longer happy with just (pretend) plucking the strings, now gamers can actually form the band -- yes, their very own Rock Band.

Included in the deluxe bundle for a cool $169.99 is a microphone and drum set as well as an imitation Stratocaster that features buttons on both the traditional top of the guitar as well as the base of the neck for kid-friendly use (unlike the GH guitars).

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, December 07, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 27 words Type of Material: Correction
Video game: The Game Day column in Thursday's Calendar said the new video game Rock Band was made by Electronic Arts. It is made by MTV Games.

While the drum set is basically the same interaction as the guitar (tap the corresponding color pad as the same button crosses the line on the screen), and using the mike is similar to most singalong games (belt out the tunes and try to keep the same pitch as the original), being able to do any of the three (and along with some pals too) is the real draw. (Not to mention the fully customizable character creator, which is hours of fun on its own.)

Rock Band basically takes musical mimic games to friendly new levels.

But don't get us wrong; this is by no means a slight to the original, whose latest version, Guitar Hero 3 Legends of Rock, packs more than 70 legendary tracks of headbanging music. With its great visual sense, good selection of tunes and "boss battles" against guitar luminaries Slash and Tom Morello, GH3 is still the preeminent guitar game. (A giant benefit to the game is that teens will finally know the names of all the classic rock songs they hear played in all those commercials and Martin Scorsese movies.)

But, as they say, variety is the spice of life.

Details, Rock Band: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms; $169.99 (deluxe bundle with game, mike, guitar and drum set), $59.99 (game only); rated Teen (lyrics, mild suggestive themes).

Details, Guitar Hero 3: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii (coming soon); $99.99 (with wireless guitar controller); $49.99-$59.99 (game only); rated Teen (lyrics, mild suggestive themes).

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