"Rock Band": A First Look at the Biggest Thing Since "Guitar Hero"

July 12, 2007 5:50 PM ET

The breakout hit of this year's E3 video game conference is clearly Rock Band, which is essentially a four-person version of Guitar Hero. MTV Games is publishing the title, and its music-industry muscle has helped get Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Rush, Foo Fighters and the Hives on board. Metallica are making their entire catalog available for the next-gen karaoke treatment, and the game's creators say that new music will be released every week as soon as the game launches in the fall. Even entire albums will be offered -- first up is the Who's Who's Next.

So what better way to celebrate this fusing of truly excellent bands with truly excellent game developers than with an intimate live concert, which took place last night in the cozy space that is L.A.'s Troubadour.

Though blogosphere rumors abounded that Slash would get up on stage and perform, the mystery musical guests turned out to be Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age, both of whom performed tight sets for an audience that included mostly video game journalists and bloggers, Xbox 360 execs and the typical assortment of B- and C-list Young Hollywood celebs like Scott Caan. The Queens ran through 40-minute set that ranged from "Hit of the Summer" and "Little Sister" to the new "Sick, Sick, Sick" off Era Vulgaris.

Naturally, players will be able to get all of these songs and more when Rock Band comes out this fall. The game works like this: Each person takes an instrument in the form of a plastic video game controller shaped like a guitar, bass, drums and mic, respectively. When the music starts, each member of the band has to press certain buttons on the controllers (or sing correctly) in time with ever-changing symbols on the screen --typical Karaoke Revolution-meets-Guitar Hero gameplay style, only ingeniously designed to work with four instruments at once. Developed by Harmonix Systems, the same company behind the original Guitar Hero, Rock Band is convincing and fun for both novices and rock band members alike.

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