Review: Rock Legend

Introduction. Amusing Anecdote. Comment upon synopsis of game. Comparison with other games. Description of aspects of the game. Opinion on game. Final score.

You see, if I wrote a review exactly as the sentence above, you wouldn’t really find it very interesting to read. Sure, it pretty much states the content of a review, but it’s about as interesting to read as the entre back catalogue of Paint Driers Monthly. What makes a review interesting, heck, entertaining to read is usually the way an article is presented to you, the style and the chunky tasty bits of filler from the writer. As a famous chef once probably said, the first mouthful is in the presentation. And it’s this which ensures games like the Football Manager series have proven such a success. When distilled down, it’s basically Databases Made Fun. And it’s this factor that seems to run through a fair few of Positech’s games. Their fourth and latest offering, Rock Legend, has recently been released on Positech’s website, and it follows the same sort of micromanagement gameplay as displayed by their last two games, Democracy and Kudos. In fact Rock Legend is almost a semi-sequel of sorts to Kudos (to give the new game it’s full title: Kudos:Rock Legend) and as a result the formula is fairly similar to the (pretty decent) ‘life sim’.

Rock Legend Desktop

This time around, you play an aspiring singer/songwriter, hoping to make it in the oh-so-popular music industry, and Rock Legend sees you writing your own songs, putting together a band and performing all in the hope of increasing your income in order to write newer and better songs, perform at bigger and better venues, with higher quality equipment and thus continue the cycle, eventually becoming so famous that you become the titular ‘Rock Legend’ you always dreamed of when you were a little ‘un. Gameplay quite naturally begins with you creating your character, using pretty much the same character customisation seen in Kudos, which initially seems quite limited, picking from a selection of pre made faces, although at least there are a fair few variations per face, so you can usually find one that at least gives you a rather satisfying nod to your personality. You then simply pick a band name and (in a rather nice touch) a skin for your in-game desktop, which is handy as you will be seeing a lot of it.

So, with a suitably silly moniker and band name selected you’ll set about auditioning other members for your band, using the meager amount of cash provided to you at the start of the game. Of course, you have to take into account things such as each performer’s musical ability, how good they are at interviews and how photogenic they are (after all, what good is performing the best songs ever if no-one knows about them?) right down to simply how well they get along with other members of the band. Following on from this, you can then get to writing some songs, using the rather simplistic interface. Rather than actually (God forbid, in my case) base your songwriting proficency on any actual musical ability, you’re given a set of coloured notes broken up into riffs, each of which represent a style of music (for instance, ‘Punk Influence’ or ‘Distorted Guitar’) – some of which work better together than others. A boost in quality can be given by matching the colours up together, so most of the song writing is little like a jigsaw with many solutions, you’re just trying to get the best possible combination. More riffs can be gained by either listening to other bands’ music, or attending other artists’ concerts with your band. Overall it works rather well. Of course, it’s a little dissapointing that you’ll never actually get to hear any of your compositions, but it does give you an incentive to keep writing songs to see if you can squeeze out that extra two percent of quality out.

Rock Legend Songwriting

Of course, much of the game doesn’t actually feature a lot of actaul music itself, the only real feature of the game involving music is a the minigame used to improve you and your band’s musical ability. It’s a simplistic Simon Says affair, with you simply repeating a sequence of notes in order to up the quality stat. A nice feature is that your band, depending on whom you selected from the audition, may improve at the same time, slower or more quickly than you – however, it should be noted that, during my playtime of the game it appeared that even if I personally was rather rubbish at the memory game, as long as I hired people whose musical skill level was a lot higher than mine, I didn’t have to do too well to still get a decent performance score. This could be a good thing or bad thing depending on how hard you’d like the game though. Producing an album is a slightly less skillful activity, although it does work well – requiring you to adjust the volume of each band member to improve the overall quality of the album, but of course your band members, being the egotistical people they are, do not appreciate having their parts decreased in prominence.

Other than this however, most of the other aspects of the game is done through micromanagement menus, for instance buying new equipment and stage props to improve the looks of the performace, and selecting your tasks (of which you can only do one a day) from the calendar menu in order to decide whether to generate publicity. Occasionally this seems a little random, especially in the later game where your publicity options are inadequete for the fame your band has achieved, but the better ones just for some reason have a habit of not appearing at all, and your band’s motivation ironically falls as a result of doing the publicity you desperately need for the performances. It seems like a rather random and unfair system at times, punishing you for no real reason. It’s also a bit of a shame that there is always so much build up to a gig, but again it’s literally over in the click of a mouse. Perhaps incorporating the musical minigame into the gig could provide a little more action for players?

Rock Legend Gig Performance

What RL does do pretty well, however, is the presentation. Sure, you shouldn’t expect HDR-wahed bangs and Hi-Def whistles, but indeed the ‘Rock Legend’ banner is indeed a fairly fun costume for the game to wear, and dare I say, probably a more accesible and fun skin than the politics of Democracy. The graphics while simplistic, work for what it tries to do, and it works to the game’s advantage quite often – heck, it means you can literally name your songs whatever you want without risking a montous robotic voice trying desperately hard to pronounce whatever fancy word you thought would always make an awesome song title. Additionally, it’s still rather satisfying to see your band using that smoke machine and pyro set you spent your last $50 before the gig on. A small complaint would be that indeed there are a lot of stats to try and micromanage and take care of, but then it’s hard to see the game working as well should it have hid these statisics from you.

Personally, I thought the concept of a rock management sim was more appealing to me than a Sims-alike game – whether other people think the same will remain to be seen. Heck, it’s fairly obvious that Rock Legend is a pretty decent casual game. Sure, the sheen is probably going to wear off after a few weeks, and in the end it’s a lot of stat heavy micromanagement. But this belle is wearing a very pretty dress, and she’s not too expensive either, so for the market it’s aimed at it’s pretty much a solid, fun game while it lasts. It’s an encouraging effort from Positech, and it seems like this is the perfect game for them to broaden their audience a little more, because they certainly deserve it.

Final Score: 82%

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One Response to Review: Rock Legend

  1. […] Positech games is of course headed by one Cliffski, who as well as releasing the pretty good Kudos: Rock Band also undertook a fascinating bit of research into games piracy. Well worth a […]

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