While the Rock Band series was brought to the iPhone with the last installment, it’s making its first appearance on the iPad with Rock Band Reloaded HD. With a larger, more capable device and a higher price tag, more is expected. Is more delivered? For the most part, yes.
Much like its console counterparts, Rock Band Reloaded lets you play the guitar, bass, drums and vocal parts for various rock songs. The guitar and bass lines are fairly straightforward, with four buttons on the screen to hit like frets. (It doesn’t bother with strumming.) Since the iPad is the kind of device that everyone holds differently, the game supports multiple configurations and button placements, so something will work for you.
It also does this for drums and vocal parts, but there are better modes for those two instruments. For the drum line, Reloaded uses all that screen real estate to place four drum pads on the screen. (We at Snackbar Games don’t endorse the use of drumsticks on the iPad screen, though. Please don’t do that.) For vocals, Reloaded supports actual singing, which is sure to annoy your friends but is totally worth it. The recognition is fair enough, though using a headset is recommended to give it the best chance of working well.
The main campaign mode is a variation on Rock Band 2‘s World Tour. Individual challenges pop up in certain areas, and you unlock more areas by doing well at these events. It doesn’t allow much room for avoiding songs you don’t like, though if it did the short tracklist would make for an abbreviated experience.
The game comes with 29 songs, including contributions from Vampire Weekend, Duran Duran, Nine Inch Nails, and more. There are a few instantly recognizable hits (such as Hungry Like The Wolf, White Wedding, and Kryptonite) sprinkled throughout, but much of the music included with the game or currently available for download is not as exciting or memorable as stuff we have seen from the console outings. Unfortunately, Reloaded doesn’t have access to the whole Rock Band Music Store, but there will certainly be a steady flow of downloads coming down the pipe.
While the look of the game is purely based on Rock Band 3, there’s not much here that would otherwise tie it to the game. There are no keyboards, there’s no character customization and the song selection is limited as well. That said, it doesn’t really matter that much. The game supports Facebook integration for sharing high scores and challenging friends, if you’re not averse to installing lots of applications on your profile.
Reloaded HD also supports a two-player mode on a single iPad, as well as the standard multi-device band mode. If you have friends with devices, playing together can be an awesome experience, but it’s likely that the same amount of coordination could yield you a console Rock Band session.
There’s no way you’d choose to play Rock Band Reloaded HD instead of the console version, but if you’re out and about this is a good way to get your fix.
Staff writer Eric Schabel contributed to this review.