E3 07: Rock Band - hands-on

Guitar Hero opened up the dream of being in a band to everyone. But it didn't open up the band - just the guitar bits. What of the lead singer? The drummer? The bassist? Well, that's the premise behind Rock Band: play everything. Together. And our turn with the game has proven that it works seamlessly.

If you think about it for about 30 seconds, you can guess exactly how Rock Band works. Under development by the creators of Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution, it's just like those two games stapled together: three Guitar Hero-style displays dominate the bottom two-thirds of the screen - one for guitar, another for bass and the third for the drums. Up above is a horizontally-scrolling Karaoke Revolution-style lyrics-and-pitch style display which allows the singer to sing.

Of course, the next big question is the peripherals. The new guitars look much more like the real thing than the Guitar Hero ones do, though they're still smaller. Based on the famous Fender Stratocaster, the guitar (which also doubles as the bass - you don't want to have to buy two different guitar-shaped controllers, after all) has a black body with a white pick guard and maple-colored neck. Of course, it's all plastic. There's a pitch control as well as the whammy bar and strummer; the fret buttons blend into the fret board so as to enhance the guitar's realism. Interestingly there are two sets of fret buttons - one down near the body of the guitar for quick playing during solos - great for hammer-ons.