“But music games are dead! What else can they do? All they need is new songs. What a cash grab!” Not so, dear reader. Firstly, “Rock Band 3” works with all your old music and gear, and includes a variety of interface and structure changes to smooth out the flow of things. Secondly, there’s a keyboard controller. Thirdly, you can use it, a fancy new guitar, and the drums you already own to learn to actually play real instruments.
Before the huge giant things outlined above, let me focus on RB3’s smaller improvements with a bulleted list.
• Harmonies have made it over from The Beatles: Rock Band.
• Players can now drop in and out of songs at will.
• Difficulty and stuff like no-fail mode and lefty flip can be adjusted on the fly.
• The new interface will keep your stupid drummer from backing out to the main menu while banging on the drums at the song select screen.
• There are many, many options for navigating your ever-growing song library. Sort by decade, song length, source, and your personal rating.
• Yes, ratings. If you rate a song a 5, it will appear more frequently in random setlists. If you rate a song a 1, it will never appear in a random setlist. Later, Visions. You won’t be missed .
• Band World Tour is now a 2-3 hour procedurally generated affair that is designed to be completed in an evening, and uses your entire library equally.
• You can save created playlists, create playlists on the web site, and send playlists to your friends.
he keyboard controller is really just a keyboard. It has MIDI out, and can be used as an instrument as well as a controller.
Traditional five-lane Rock Band gameplay is accomplished on a set of labeled keys on the right half of the keyboard. It only uses five white keys, but the new “pro” mode uses the entire thing, shifting the view of ten or twelve lanes out of the entire keyboard.
Pro mode is obviously quite difficult, but I was able hop onto hard standard mode on the Doors’ “Break on Through” without too much trouble, and it was super fun.
Pro mode is what Harmonix is calling its more realistic modes of play for the various instruments. Pro mode players can freely mix with standard players, and pro mode has its own difficulty tiers, so you can start on easy and work your way up.
Pro mode drums is the least exciting of the bunch. It requires the cymbal add-on that came out with Rock Band 2. It replaces some of the standard drum notes with round ones that require you to hit the appropriate cymbal. It also supports an additional kick pedal.
Pro mode guitar, however looks bananas. (I haven’t played it, because we are not fancy enough to get behind those closed doors.) You can either use the $150 guitar with a bunch of buttons on its neck, or the currently-unpriced actual real guitar that also works with the game. This astonishing piece of tech was demonstrated for us in the demo theatre, and I recommend checking this video out, as it will be much more effective than any series of words I could string together.
All in all, Rock Band 3 moves the genre forward more than almost anyone could’ve imagined, while maintaining and improving the core awesomeness contained within Rock Band 2.
In conclusion, enjoy this video of us rocking the fuck out: