Developer: EA
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

At this point in its life-cycle it’s hard to pin down exactly how relevant Rock Band is to the gaming world. Though Rock Band 3 came out to stellar reviews and strong sales, it hasn’t been the powerhouse in living rooms and at parties that it was a few years ago. Now EA is taking another stab at the mobile market with Rock Band Reloaded, and it feels very much like the same situation. While the new game is well-made and fun, it’s also hard to know if it’s even still necessary.

Reloaded takes the traditional rhythm game formula and keeps it going, tasking players to play along with guitar, bass or drums by tapping out the pattern of falling gems. If you’ve ever played a Rock Band or Guitar Hero title before then you know the drill, and nothing’s really changed. The game’s major new addition for this addition is the inclusion of vocal tracks, which can be played in the same manner as the other instruments or actually sung, using the built-in microphone or plugging in a headset. The ability to sing along with the game is kind of cool, but there are a few caveats. First off, the pitch detection isn’t all that great and lyric recognition is nonexistent, so if you’re making sounds even remotely similar to those of the song then you get credit. Also, how many people are going to sing into their iPhone? If you’re in a place where belting out rock tunes at the top of your lungs is appropriate then you’re likely at home, so why not play the console version instead?

Those who own both an iPhone and iPad may be torn on which version of the game to get, but the differences are so slight as to be inconsequential. The iPad edition features a different way to deploy Overdrive (tapping the screen rather than tilting the device), and some simple animation of the band while playing the song. Beyond that the set list, career progression and general gameplay are all identical, and this is really one of those games that could have worked as a universal app rather than creating two separate entities. The HD tag and extra cost really aren’t worth the added benefit.

Reloaded also tries to impress with its set list, and though it’s expansive for a mobile game with 29 songs, they’re mostly retreads of old console tracks. If you’re a Rock Band fan do you really want to play Beastie Boys “So What’cha Want” or “White Wedding” by Billy Idol again? If so then have at it, but anyone hoping for some exclusive tracks or a unique set of songs will be disappointed.

From a purely technical standpoint there’s very little to complain about with Rock Band Reloaded and if you’re such a big fan of the franchise you need a new mobile version then you’ll be quite pleased. Still, in a world already flooded with music games there seems to be little reason for this game to exist, as it doesn’t try very hard to stand out. While our rating may seem high for a game that we see as fairly tired, we also need to account for the fact that it IS a quality game, with good controls and a fairly deep setlist. For those folks new to the franchise on an iOS device, this is a solid pick.

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