Preview: Katie Berlin Turnpike [Review: Rock Band]

For Immediate Release: Katie Berlin Turnpike Announces World Tour!

Ok, you might not recognize the name, but Katie Berlin Turnpike is blowing up. Formed just a few weeks ago in San Francisco, the band has already trekked around the country, amassing legions of fans in almost every major city from New York to Los Angeles. And here’s the kicker: KBT is a cover band! Excuse me, did you say “cover band”?

The story is true. Well, kind of. The meteoric rise of the KBT happens to be based in a virtual world of decadence courtesy of the superb new video game, Rock Band, the next in a long line of digital distractions consuming the lives of Mission Freak’s resident gaming heads (Scott & Tanner).

Those familiar with the Guitar Hero series will quickly grasp the ins and outs of playing Rock Band: when red square crosses yellow line, hit red button on guitar. Repeat as needed with any variation of ROYGBIV. What makes Rock Band different is that guitar is only one-quarter of the equation. With the addition of drums, bass, and vocals, wannabe John Bonhams, John Paul-Joness, and Robert Plants now have the opportunity to prove their skills alongside Jimmy Page on the virtual stage.

Much like Guitar Hero, you can step up on your instrument of choice and plow through the list of 50+ songs, gaining new guitar styles, clothing options, and bonus tracks as you progress. However, it is in the ridiculously in-depth and addictive “Band World Tour” mode where Rock Band stands out as the best music-based video game ever created. Assuming you can find 2 or 3 friends who are willing to indulge in your nerdiest rock fantasies—“World Tour” mode allows you to name a band, create your band members, design a band logo, and hit the road in hopes of becoming the biggest virtual band on the planet. Starting in small clubs, your band will eventually gain fans, cash, and various modes of transportation based on the quality of your performances. The customization options are staggering—KBT’s lead guitarist, Guy Young, can only be described as the product of genetic splicing between David Bowie, Bootsy Collins, Falco, and Mission Creek’s very own Andre Perry, stuffed in a pink suit and powdered wig.

Lest you be afraid that Rock Band’s impressive list of songs—including “Say it Ain’t So,” “Vasoline,” and “Epic”—will grow stale, the Xbox Live Marketplace is being filled with new downloadable tracks on a weekly basis (notable additions include the entire “Who’s Next” album, “One” by Metallica, and a Green Day 3-pack that sparks the interest of those of us who were born before 1994).

Rock Band is not without its faults—Tanner’s spirited drumming on “Sabotage” shattered our bass drum petal in just over a week of use—but certain distributors (i.e. Best Buy) are selling warranties that promise to provide in-store replacement of parts for 30 dollars. Considering the game will already set you back almost $200, Rock Band is probably not worth the price unless you’ve already locked in a band that’s ready to rock along side you. But for those of us who have always dreamed of playing the guitar solo on “Enter Sandman,” the drums on “Cherub Rock,” or a Kim Deal bass line, Rock Band is worth every penny.

By Tanner “Dick Wolf” Illingworth and Scott “Guy Young” Leblanc