So let’s see, we’ve had Beatles, Green Day, Unplugged, Lego, a handful of track packs and two core titles. Oh, and I can’t forget the 2000+ DLC tracks available as I type this. That’s a lot of Rock Band. So is a third core title really necessary? I mean, we’ve already witnessed the slow, suffocating demise of the once great rock behemoth known as Guitar Hero (although the recent Warriors of Rock wasn’t too bad). But after spending some quality time with the final build of Rock Band 3, I must admit the changes made for this go round improve the experience quite a bit...at least for the Rock Band faithful...
Unfortunately, this review not be covering what, in my opinion, are the major selling points; and I think Harmonix feels the same way. Just about any piece of marketing for Rock Band 3 touts the new Pro mode, which should bring expert rockers another step closer to playing the real thing along with providing tutorials that can help the novice walk the same path. Additionally, the new Keytar peripheral follows right up behind the Pro mode, adding a new instrument to the band (bringing the total bandmates to seven if you include the returning vocal harmonies from Beatles Rock Band) and now making some of the synth-heavy rock songs of the 1980’s a viable option for the franchise.
Sounds great right? Yeah, it does to me as well. As far as I’m concerned, those two features are the meat and potatoes of the new hotness that Rock Band 3 brings to the table. So why won’t these killer features be covered? The short of it is a lack of hardware. We were unable to secure any for the sake of this review. A bit of a bummer as the spotlight has been shining on both of those additions ever since Rock Band 3 was announced.
That’s not to say this third entry doesn’t offer something to those rocking the legacy instruments. In fact, the entire game is sporting some much welcomed changes. Number one on the list is the sorting options. With all the various Rock Band titles - which can be imported into Rock Band 3 - and the DLC, it amounts to a ton of content to sift through, especially during Quick Play. The filtering options range from alphabetical by title or band to genre or set list. Speaking of set lists, those can now be created and saved locally or even shared online. Now you can prep for your Rock Band parties and have the song selections all ready to go before the first ring of the doorbell.
The game also features what Harmonix affectionately dubs the “Overshell”. Essentially, it’s a means of player control at the bottom of the screen. No matter what mode the player(s) are in, a quick push of the Start button brings up the individual band member’s preferences. Go into No Fail Mode, switch to lefty, Drop In, Drop Out, etc... It streamlines the whole process, allowing individual adjustments on the fly without having to back all the way out to a special menu.
For me, the most notable difference was the career mode. It still has a sense of progression, as the band will still go on the road earning fans and unlocking better clothing, accessories and instruments. However, it’s a seemless experience across all modes. Career progression is based on completing challenges (an evolved version of what Beatles Rock Band introduced last year.) These challenges range from completing certain setlists to hitting Overdrive or streak milestones. Better yet, the challenges encompass the entire Rock Band catalog. Did you import Green Day Rock Band? There will be challenges for those songs. Got a ton of DLC? Expect to see some opportunities for that too.
I adored the career mode simply because every thing is accounted for. Playing songs in Quick Play will apply toward your goals. Even if you add an online bandmate, the songs will count for both parties. It eliminates one of my biggest issues from past titles as we would be in Quick Play more often than not, thereby killing my band’s fanbase since we spent very little time in the career mode.
Making recommendations for Rock Band 3 is a bit more complicated than my normal reviews essentially because I’ve only been privy to half the product. I’m assuming the Pro modes and the Keytar are fabulous and work exactly as advertised. Unfortunately, I can’t make a recommendation based on assumptions. The other changes, from the all-inclusive career mode to the filtering options and even the snazzier visuals, are all assets for the franchise. Yet when weighing them on their own, it amounts to Rock Band 2 Ultimate Edition rather than a full fledged sequel.
If the opportunity arises, we will do a full spread covering the Pro mode and the Keytar as a supplemental to this review. As of right now, based on what’s playable with legacy equipment, the investment comes down to how many of the 83 on-disk tracks you want to play and how often you channel your inner rockstar. If Rock Band is an every-Friday-night thing for you, then grabbing Rock Band 3 would be a good call as the evolution the fanchise has made will be much appreciated by fans. If not, then you might want to pass.
Release date : 2010-10-26
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Developer : Harmonix
Gameplay : Music,Tempo, Dance
Here we are. The next generation of consoles is among us and it is finally time to start thinking about finally unplugging our beloved current-gen systems. Could there be a better swan song for one of these systems than taking a trip back to Rapture?
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