It's called Rock Band and not Rock Soloist for a reason- you gotta do this with other people to truly appreciate it. There's something almost intangible about four people in the same room, jumping and screaming and saving each other from humiliation - and it's something that this game and this game alone enables. Part of the co-op game is working together and keeping an eye on your bandmates who might be struggling; your timely intervention can give them a boost and keep them in the game, or bring them back after they fail. Damned if you don't feel like you're actually making music - which is the developer's not-so-secret goal, but who'd have thought they'd pull it off? It makes GHIII feel like homework, a technical chore you have to do. Rock Band, meanwhile, feels downright inspiring.
You can't really get that feeling online, even if you can log in and play QuickPlay matches. For the full co-op career mode, you have to play offline. That's disappointing, as we wanted to share this groovy feeling with far-off friends and build toward a common goal with them. And if we're picking nits, the new guitar controller feels foreign, with its soft-pressing, inset buttons- it's not the clicky, tactile stuff we're used to. Visually it's a stunner, but since the Guitar Hero controllers work in Rock Band, we're sticking with those a while longer.
The list of tracks skews toward classic rock - The Rolling Stones, Blue Oyster Cult, um, Mountain - and in addition to the 58 songs that come on the disc (most of which are original recordings from famous artists), there's a slew of downloadable tracks from other bands ready to launch within the first few weeks. Seems Rock Band is ambitious in more ways than one, because the developer swears this is only the beginning of the tracks you'll see available.