Rock Star: a review


#1

So, I bought Rock Star yesterday. To be honest, I’m more than a little disappointed with it.

My main criticism is the lack of interactivity. As far as I can tell, very few of the player’s choice have any meaningful impact on the story. And some of the stats don’t seem to do anything.

For example, I decided to defy stereotype and make one of my characters a clean living fellow who didn’t drink, party or stay out late. This gave him very high Role Model and Health stats. But the game still told me that my character was passing out and drooling on people. Why bother asking the player to make those decisions if you’re going to turn their character into a wreck anyway?

There’s a scene early in the game where your brother asks you to do something which is obviously a bad idea. The player is given the option to refuse, but the game then overrides your choice and forces you to do it anyway. There’s no point in asking the player to make choices if you’re going to invalidate their decisions.

You’re also told that your character has entered romantic relationships with other characters without being given a choice. And at the end of the story you’re told that you’ve reconciled with your brother. Again, the player isn’t given any choice in the matter.

I found this all a bit disappointing. The reason we’re buying Choice of Game, rather than reading novels, is for the interactivity. Let us choose the characters we want to play and the decisions that we want to make. And ensure that our choices aren’t meaningless.

Length is also a bit of an issue. The game is short and quite linear, with limited replayability. I’d have liked to have seen more branches (e.g. if being a death metal rock star gave you different team mates and fans to a pop rock star, or if a character with a wholesome image was asked to become a spokesperson for the war against drugs). Let us be like Bob Geldof and use our music to promote charitable giving, or like Bruce Springsteen and get involved in politics.

On a more positive note, I didn’t find any bugs. The errors which other users have encountered now seen to have been ironed out.


#2

Thanks for that - food for thought, indeed.

For obvious reasons I’d be the first to say (in hindsight - a wonderful thing) that as ChoiceScript Authors we have to aim for a balance somewhere between “perfection” and “acceptable”, otherwise our games will never see the light of day. But to take a brilliant idea (and ‘Rock Star’ is is a great concept for a Choice game) and then trash the actual implementation of it, just seems to me like a pointless waste of time and effort for all concerned.

We all need to learn from this, otherwise “anything to make a quick buck” will become a hard-to-shrug-off stigma that the Choice games market can certainly do without. We have enough competition for the entertainment dollar as it is without shooting ourselves in the foot.


#3

I didn’t get as many errors as a lot of people, just a few saying I did guitar solos when I was a keyboardist. However, as a HG author, I certainly recognize that coding errors are inevitable and so I’m lenient about them.

However, it was pretty annoying that my band was called “poppy” even though I chose to be more indie and folkish.

As far as I know, these erors have been fixed, so that’s not that big a deal. However, I must agree that having no choice in engaging another in a relationship was very unsettling. Shouldn’t we be able to choose with whom we date, and if we date at all? No to both of those? Hmm, alrighty.


#4

Right, this is going to be my first post on the forums and my first review. Honestly…this is the one game that I haven’t enjoyed amongst all the Choice Of games I’ve played (and the hosted ones). All critique is simply from my viewpoint - take it with a grain of salt. The point of interactive fiction is to be interactive and I didn’t feel like my choices had much impact at all. Wanna start a punk band? Sweet. No riots that you spark, no nights in jail, though. It’s the absolute same route for all genres, which hardly makes it worth playing more than once.

The game didn’t give me much impact on my life - I was forced to be in a band with my brother (who turned out quite unlikable for me), and if I didn’t want him to leave me high and dry, I had to change the name I picked to one of the goofy predetermined ones. (Seriously, do I really want to change the name Apocalypse to ‘The [Player Name] Experience’ just to keep one of the band members that realistically I would need at this point?) The path that I took remained the same for a good chunk of my playthroughs - I played at an impromptu thing that my brother pushed me into, I hired all the band members I could except for the vocalist (since I wanted my PC on vocals)…and we did the exact same things. Uno started showboating, there was that time when that one member (either my brother or another band member) passed out and had to be shocked back to life before the show, and every time I ended up getting successful I was branded a ‘sell-out’.

You don’t want players to feel like success is a bad thing - so why do you punish them for it? That was one of the things that annoyed me the most, most importantly because if you don’t get popular, the game ends, and if you do get popular, everyone starts hating you for ‘selling out’. I suppose that’s accurate in the eyes of a hipster, at least.

The biggest gripe that I had, however, was the fact that I was forced into a relationship with someone I hadn’t even known, much less show interest in. I was assuming that eventually we’d be able to talk to our band members and perhaps form a relationship with one of them that made the press thrilled to see…but no such luck, we were pushed into a relationship with a character only introduced for us to be in a relationship with them. (Plus, one of my characters was in a committed relationship with her guitar, thank-you-very-much.) My reaction when said recently-introduced character tried to kiss up to me to put a song onto my album? “HAHAHAHAHA you must be joking now get out.” I’ve always loved the Choice Of romances - they’re usually quite deep and I love the character exploration in each one (although ironically Choice of Romance is my least favorite – but that’s another story for another day) but here it was punted to the side in favor of…what? There wasn’t much else.

The characters had little to no personality and I ended up disliking most of them for doing nothing more than being…there and causing problems. Fran(? I believe that was her name, the manager) was the only one I ended up liking in the end of all this…so much so that I even didn’t like my player character by the end of it all, considering they too as a result had become quite bland and forgettable.

The good parts…I’m not exactly a easy-to-please critic, but I did enjoy the references to other bands and that we could take inspiration from their sound. Too bad that it wasn’t ever really referenced. I also liked the idea of being able to name our songs, but even then we automatically had two songs named for us that we had no input into making it kind of a moot point. The naming-your-band point is what I was thrilled about, but even then, as I mentioned above, the game tried to steer me away from being too creative.

I don’t know. The title had potential (I was actually thrilled when I saw the title, expecting to be able to form my own ‘Spinal Tap’ of sorts), but it didn’t live up to it. Perhaps it could be improved with patches that add more branches, but that overall seems unlikely. I’d say this game isn’t worth buying unless you’re really really really willing to overlook quite a few flaws. I’m sorry, but I’d suggest this one be taken back to the drawing board - there were quite a few ways to make it engaging and interesting (some of which others have mentioned) but they were easily passed by in favor of the linear story.
2/10 - Could be really really better; huge room for improvement; I hope the next game turns out much better


#5

The 1.0.5 patch is now live on iOS.

Curious to hear if your opinion changes.


#6

I’ll give it another try


#7

@JasonStevanHill Thanks for taking the time to come back to us.

To my mind, the update doesn’t significantly change the gaming experience. I made the same choices as before, and experienced the same issues.

If you’re open to suggestions, mine would be that the game needs a few more “branches”, and to give the player more autonomy.

Allow us to choose our own romantic partners. Let us say “no” to Casper and mean it, and give us a choice as to whether we want to be reconciled with him at the end of the game. Give the player the chance to spend some of the money they accumulate - at present it appears to be purely cosmetic.

@Kirigiri’s suggestion that a punk character should be allowed to start riots is a good one. I’d also like to see a high “Role Model” stat open up some interesting options (e.g. a better relationship with your parents, and the option of acting as a spokesperson for a campaign).


#8

Bought it same day it came out on IOS. Terrible, choices suck, linear story and no character development.


#9

@Protagonist

I agree so much with everything, especially saying “no” to Casper. I’m an egotistical rock star, he brought my band down, he’s out. My character wouldn’t become melancholy over that, nor his family for that matter. More choices with Casper really. He shouldn’t be forcing me to do anything against my will.

I’d like a choice of a house or a car, or some big expenditure. I would like more autonomy, and more branches. I have very little leverage with my manager and label. If I turn on my label once, I’m gone. Perhaps realistic, but realism at all times isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Hope this wasn’t too harsh, but I was disappointed at how fast and rigid the game seemed to be. I did one slow playthrough, then another six or seven quicker ones in the last week. Never quite received a ending that pleased me.


#10

I honestly enjoyed “What Happpened Last Night?” or “Paranoia” more than this. This wasnt a choice of game, more like a short story