Believe it or not, the guitar is not the worst part the deal here. The AirStrike drums are. We saw this coming, both in preview events and when publisher Seven45 refused to send us the drums to review (we bought our own $229 bundle to get them), but we’re still sad to confirm our suspicions were correct.
This is the last sentence of the first paragraph in the section of the owner’s manual that deals with the AirStrike drums. It is written in bold type, reproduced here. See if you can spot the problem:
“NEVER strike the base unit (or anything else) with the AirStrike sticks!”
Yep, you read that correctly. What we have here is a drum kit so advanced, you can’t actually drum it. This is, as you’re probably predicting by now, a disaster.
The AirStrike looks nothing like a drum kit – it’s just a hump of plastic with four colored circles and three legs that lift it just over a foot from the ground. The drumsticks aren’t normal wooden sticks – they’re electronic sensors, and not only is there a left and a right one, but each stick also has a top and a bottom so they have to be held just so.
But that’s okay, because, let me repeat for emphasis, you don’t ever hit anything. In fact, treating these like real drums and drumsticks would destroy them in seconds. Instead, you just wave your drumsticks over the plastic lump and hope it detects the motion. And often times, it doesn’t.
Proof: Playing “Cherub Rock” with the Rock Band drums on the second easiest difficult setting, I missed only 8% of the notes the first time through (an already lame score, I’ll admit). Switching over to the AirStrike kit and selecting the same song and difficulty, I missed a whopping 31% of the notes – and again, I should have played better because I’d already seen the note patterns and this was an easy difficulty setting. On a more difficult setting, the disparity would probably be greater, as it was with the guitar.
Ironically, the AirStrike drum kit does work with Rock Band 3’s Pro Drums mode – however, because there are no cymbals here and that mode requires at least one, don’t plan on scoring too well. Oh, it also requires a staggering six AA batteries thanks to the sticks, three more than the wireless Rock Band kit that exceeds it in every single way. To put it simply, this peripheral should never have come out. It simply doesn’t work.
Drum kit score: 1
Curtain Call: The Final Verdict
So, what do we have here? We have a game that tries its best but still feels a half-decade behind, we have a guitar that isn’t, and we have a drum kit so flawed it’s almost offensive. Add it all together and take the average, and it comes out to a nice, even 3. The crew at Seven45 are very nice people and we admire them for trying something new – but there’ no way you as a gamer should get caught paying for this failed experiment.
Nov 9, 2010