by MARTY DEMAREST & r & & r & Rock Band & r & Rated Teen; PSP, PS3, 360, Wii & r & 5 Stars & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & "O & lt;/span & K if you write a review of this," Jeff said, plugging cords into his Xbox 360, "you can say the sign-in basically sucks."

I found Rock Band where most videogame sleeper hits are located: at a friend's house. Jeff and Jozey (who run a superb burrito shop) had sprung for the $160 game that comes with a plastic guitar (which I was holding), drum set (where Skylar sat spinning sticks) and microphone (held by Jeff as he stretched out its cord).

Jozey, who was playing bass in Rock Band using a compatible Guitar Hero II guitar, signed in to her Xbox account, clicking through what seemed like half a dozen menu screens on the TV. Then Skylar signed in using the drums. Then Jeff signed in. Then me. After a sign-in process that basically sucks, we were ready to rock.

"Don't Fear the Reaper" was the first song that I ever heard Jeff sing. I was concentrating on pressing my guitar's color-coded frets, so I couldn't fully appreciate his performance. But his voice ranged from a holler to something actually soulful. I was able to find the song's groove as much by watching him cock his hips as by watching the TV screen. Glancing at Skylar, I saw his sticks flying up and down on the colored plastic drum pads in a synchronized flurry with my strumming.

Jeff tapped his microphone like a tambourine. Jozey and I rocked our guitars back simultaneously, unleashing a flurry of psychedelia on the widescreen. We fled through "Run to the Hills." (Did we get four stars? Five stars? Details are hazy.)

Jeff and Skylar got in a minor argument between sets about costumes. Skylar wanted to wear a new T-shirt he had picked up after a concert. "It takes too much f***ing time," Jeff whined, turning towards the screen. Our onscreen rocker personas waited -- a group of lingerie-clad, trashy girls. "We spent the first day just customizing them," said Jeff. "Getting them tattoos and s***."

I flipped through the game's playlist, selecting a song. "No, not that one," Jeff said. I explained that if I was going to write a review, I was going to have to mess around and see Rock Band's weirder corners. Jeff rolled his eyes. "OK, close the f***ing door." He didn't want anyone to know he covered Jon Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive."

"Should I get out my jeans jacket?" he asked as I started to noodle through the opening guitar riff. Skylar and Jozey joined in.

"I'm a cowboy," Jeff droned flatly, obviously not feeling the Bon Jovi. "On a steel horse I ride...."

THE GOOD: Rock Band offers a degree of humiliation that only karaoke can provide.

THE BAD: Redgy, who's an excellent bassist in a real rock band, sat on the sofa watching with disdain. We were all playing a videogame that made lame people look like rock stars, without the work, sacrifice or skill. Posers, yes we were. But we rocked.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Rock Band is a slick, rock-rules videogame that gets better the more you practice, the more people show up for practice, and the more fun you try to have.

WSU Men's Basketball vs. New Mexico State @ Spokane Arena

Sat., Dec. 7, 12 p.m.
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