Rock Band 3
E3 2010: Rock Band 3 First Impressions - So You Wanna Be A Rock Star?
Written Friday, July 02, 2010 By Dan Webb
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Rock Band 3 excites me as both a gamer and a music fan. Not only does it introduce the much-loved keyboard – yes, I love it, so I can get away with saying that – but it’s trying something that will open up learning real life instruments to the masses with its Pro mode and series of guitars.

I know that there are some people out there that will ask, “Why don’t you just buy an instrument, you tool!?” but that’s not the point. Buying an instrument is easy, but learning a skill like playing a guitar is not only a lonely affair, but it also requires supreme amounts of dedication and patience. Doing that alone is tricky, but learning while Rock Band is there to help, assist and make the experience bearable – pro-tip: learning instruments can be frustrating! – what else can you ask for?

That doesn’t mean Rock Band is going hardcore, no way, it’s just broadening its horizons and it’s every bit as accessible or challenging, whatever end of the spectrum you sit.

As always, it’s all about the music and with close to 2,000 tracks said to be available in the Rock Band Music Store this holiday season, 83 on disc, fully confirmed backwards compatibility, it’s clear that Harmonix are on track to deliver on that front.  You can expect “songs ranging all the way from new bands like Rilo Kiley and Metric, to White Stripes and Them Crooked Vultures, all the way back to bands like The Doors, White Snake, Huey Lewis and the fucking News, Queen... we have Bohemian  Rhapsody in the game,” says Harmonix’s singing maestro, John Drake. Of course, we know all these already, right? And as expected, all your old instruments are compatible as well.

So what’s new from a feature standpoint?

Rock Band 3’s improvements seem to be subtle – but effective – tweaks for the most part. Not only will Rock Band 3 feature drop-in/drop-out support, meaning a friend can jump in and out of a song at any time, but also a filtering option, allowing you to choose genres, key support, length, time period, etc, meaning you can manage your collection effectively. The new “Overshell” will also give each player their in-game menu as well, meaning if someone wants to switch to lefty – weirdoes – you won’t have to back the whole thing up to the main menu just for one person and it stops them from getting evils all night from your cronies.

There’s also the ability to save setlists to your console and share them with your friends – you can even make them on the web so they’re ready to go when you get to your console – as well as Song Recommendations in the Rock Band Music Store and these things called “Road Challenges” which are 2-4 hour challenges for the veteran and hardcore players.

There’s even persistent careers as well with hundred of goals, achievements and character unlocks for the player that really wants to excel with their desired instrument – or all of them if you’re feeling up to it! No matter which mode you’re in, you’ll be progressing through your career goals.

Wait... there’s more...

That’s not including the vocal harmonies that are coming across from The Beatles: Rock Band and All Instruments Mode which is 7 players at once playing on one screen. Nothing game-changing, but like I said, subtle tweaks that make it a much more enjoyable experience... That is until you mention the all-new Pro mode and the new keyboard which smacks you in the face and says, “Innovation!? I’ll show you innovation you varmint!”

The keyboard looks every bit as impressive as I had hoped it would, with a few different ways to play it. The standard mode is traditional Rock Band stuff, known as “Keys” mode, which is a “representational simulation experience” and gives you the usual 5 lanes to play through. Ultimately that means if you don’t have the keyboard peripheral, you can use one of your plastic guitars to simulate it. If you have the keyboard, each lane will be mapped to your C to G keys.

More importantly I would say is the keyboard’s “Pro” mode, where the keyboard peripheral comes into its own. Giving you two octaves worth of notes, the keyboard’s Pro mode is pitch accurate and will offer one octave on screen at a time. Admittedly this does mean it will jump around a bit, but if you take the notes away with you to a piano, you’ll genuinely be playing that piece of music, which in my opinion, is quite mind-blowing. Learning an instrument through a game? Incredible.

Pro mode isn’t just confined to the keyboard either, oh no and every instrument, whether it be drums (with additional cymbals), vocals (fully pitch accurate) and of course, the guitar – which can be a proper guitar that is both amplifier and Rock Band compatible – will be supported. It does require purchasing new instruments though and as well as the drums with extra cymbals, the keyboard, there are also the Pro Guitars that come in two flavours: the Fender Mustang: a button based controller with 102 buttons and six strings and is a great in between for Rock Band players and guitar playing wannabes who haven’t mustered the confidence to make the step just yet; and the Squire Stratocaster by Fender, which is a fully functional 22 fret, real wooden guitar with built in technology in the neck that knows where your hands are and which string you’re strumming. Impressive! How does it work on screen though? Well, it’s your traditional Rock Band setup, but with the game giving you a string and a fret number instead – so the A string on the third fret.

Again, it’s fully pitch accurate and once you plug the Stratocaster into an amp, it’s a proper guitar. Yes, a real guitar! That means skills learnt when playing songs on your guitar within the confines of Rock Band can transfer to the actual guitar when you hook up your amp  - of course, you need to remember the notes or chords from the note chart. It’s the bridge between real music and music games which truth be told, signifies the next big step. Take that one Noel Gallagher!

Sounds complicated, right? Well, yes, with the Stratocaster especially, you are effectively playing a real life instrument and playing actual music – although two octaves on a keyboard won’t allow you to really simulate a proper chord and harmony piece. Thankfully Pro mode doesn’t drop you in at the deep end though (if you don’t want it to that is) and you can choose Pro mode on easy and it’ll select key notes instead – while staying pitch accurate of course – and ease you into the whole experience.

If the small tweaks to the Rock Band franchise weren’t enough to persuade you to part with your cash this holiday period, I have two words for you: “keyboard,” and “pro.”

Who said the music genre couldn’t innovate, huh? Here’s some humble pie. Eat it! Eat it!!! EAAATTTT ITTTT!!

Rock Band 3 is heading your way in holiday 2010.


User Comments
Forum Posts: 69
Comment #1 by devils-son
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 04:59:07 PM
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can't wait for this!!!
the only thing i wish they would implement is rhythm guitars.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #2 by Fartian
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 05:20:42 PM
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As an hardware fanatic I'll definitely buy the keyboard! Can't wait for the release!

Forum Posts: 158
Comment #3 by ROCKZO_BAND
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 05:22:00 PM
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I wish they would make Beatles exportable.

Forum Posts: 388
Comment #4 by Mike0113
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 05:48:43 PM
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I assume all the Rock Band 2 songs (well, at least most of them) will be completely transferable across to this? AT least then I'll always have something to play.

Forum Posts: 6081
Comment #5 by legndorock
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 06:00:25 PM
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The first big change to the music game since the first Rock Band came out. I can't wait!

@ #4 as long as you have the export key you can transfer most of the disc songs from RB1, RB2 and Green Day RB to RB3. DLC that you've bought should be playable on RB3 without the export key.

Forum Posts: 2162
Comment #6 by Cruore
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 06:04:54 PM
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This is incredibly amazing! I'm in the process of learning guitar myself, and RB has never been more than speed and strength practice. But now, seriously, this can be used as a full- on band practice! I can't wait. Already saving up for that strat.

Forum Posts: 42
Comment #7 by Eric B.
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 06:51:13 PM
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I can play real guitar and this could help me get better at it.

Forum Posts: 550
Comment #8 by Tranquilbez
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 07:15:36 PM
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YAY THis on Top of My christmas wishlist along with Dead Rising 2 and FIFA 11.

Forum Posts: 13
Comment #9 by Clicky90
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 07:31:29 PM
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So now it's Rockband with a hint of techno?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #10 by Timewoven
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 07:47:02 PM
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I just started playing real guitar (I've only learned 8 notes so far) just so that I kind of have a lead into the new game. I will be buying both piano and pro guitar cause well, currently Rock Band is the one and only game I play these days!

I just can't wait to get working on Pro mode

Forum Posts: 1184
Comment #11 by Gyrfalcon09
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 07:51:11 PM
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This sounds awesome!! I think RB is definitely taking a step in the right direction!!

Forum Posts: 107
Comment #12 by Lail50
Friday, July 02, 2010 @ 08:06:23 PM
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Not sure whether I would want to invest money into the real guitar with 102 buttons (probably looks clunky and hard to play in 'real life') or if I would go with the touch sensitive one (probably will have problems with recognizing which note you're playing and expensive to replace if it breaks), but I definetely want one or the other!

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #13 by curryhead
Saturday, July 03, 2010 @ 07:03:48 AM
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Rock band 3 AWESOME! Keyboard and pro modes! What more could you ask for!

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #14 by Jans
Saturday, July 03, 2010 @ 07:18:43 AM
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I played piano in over 10 years now! cant wait to try the keyboard:D

Forum Posts: 18
Comment #15 by hughesy83
Saturday, July 03, 2010 @ 09:07:13 AM
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im still waiting for rock band to be released. i never found it anywere.

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #16 by goattownhero
Saturday, July 03, 2010 @ 09:19:55 AM
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Been playing guitar for two years now, never would have started without RB. Im glad they're adding keyboards. Can't wait to play some Children of Bodom(Assuming past DLC will have keyboard support).

Forum Posts: 72
Comment #17 by Slaphappy1996
Saturday, July 03, 2010 @ 01:04:00 PM
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Hope it doesn't suck like the first and second one.

Forum Posts: 387
Comment #18 by hailSlayer420
Saturday, July 03, 2010 @ 01:37:40 PM
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bring on the black metal

Forum Posts: 4110
Comment #19 by starcrunch061
Saturday, July 03, 2010 @ 06:07:07 PM
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Rhythm guitars would be great.

I'll probably get it; the idea of playing a real live guitar is appealing to me. But what's the allusion to Noel Gallagher about? Did he make some wisecrack about playing plastic instruments?

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #20 by ilChannel
Sunday, July 04, 2010 @ 06:47:32 AM
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Must Get It

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #21 by ExtremeEnigma99
Sunday, July 04, 2010 @ 01:35:59 PM
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cant wait love the idea of the keyboard

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #22 by gtaguy95
Sunday, July 04, 2010 @ 02:03:23 PM
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Forum Posts: 278
Comment #23 by ssmyHD
Monday, July 05, 2010 @ 08:13:10 AM
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Lol that eat it part is from Avenged Sevenfold's Critical Aclaim ^.^
Anyway can't wait :D

Forum Posts: 8165
Comment #24 by FiftyQuid
Monday, July 05, 2010 @ 01:28:36 PM
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John Mayer eat your heart out.

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Game Info
Electronic Arts


US October 26, 2010
Europe October 29, 2010

Resolution: 480p, 720p
Sound: Dolby Digital
Players: 1-7
Online Players : 2-7
ESRB: Teen
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