Strange as it may sound, my last real Rock Band experience was Rock Band 2 on my PlayStation 2 back in 2008. I enjoyed it immensely (I even lost my voice once doing Filter’s Hey Man, Nice Shot; I was committed to the song), but because of my wife’s susceptibility to Simulation Sickness (a kind of motion sickness brought on by certain video games), we ended up selling it due to disuse, and never got on the Rock Band 3 bandwagon when it was initially released in October of 2010. Yes, I’m doing a review for a game that came out 21 months ago. “But Chris, dude, come on! The review cycle for this game has been done for a year and a half, at LEAST!” Well, we just got a copy of it for my wife’s 30th birthday party, so I believe the most appropriate phrase here is…
Rock Band 3 brought multiple upgrades to the franchise, with the keyboard/keytar peripheral and the Pro modes being the most significant. Designed for those who take this way more seriously than I do, Pro mode for the guitar, keyboard/keytar, and drums is an incredibly difficult level of gameplay that, in the case of the guitar and drums, requires more expensive/additional Pro hardware. This hardware is required because not only does it include the standard five button method, but enough buttons to replicate any guitar fingering you could find on a real guitar. This button availability becomes necessary as you find yourself having to actually play songs as if you were on a real guitar. The Pro drum mode allows input from three cymbals and an additional bass drum pedal, resulting in a veritable flurry of arms and feet. Thankfully, Rock Band 3 provides the lessons necessary to start Pro mode from scratch. The keyboard/keytar is not something I was able to test, without hardware on hand, but from what I have seen of it, the experience it provides is on par with the rest of the game. Another great improvement in Rock Band 3 over Rock Band 2 is the carry-over of up to three-part harmonies originally introduced in The Beatles: Rock Band. Harmony singing is incredibly entertaining.
Especially when you’re a 6’1″ bearded man (to clarify, I am not saying that my beard is 6’1″ long – it shouldn’t need to be said, but it probably needs to be said) singing Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Hey, what do you want me to say? I love rock n’ roll.
The basic mechanics of the game remain the same as past iterations, but for those of you completely unfamiliar with Rock Band as a whole, it is, at its core, a rhythm game. It’s just a rhythm game that lets you play real songs using kickass instrument peripherals. Each instrument participating in a song has its own status bar, which is based on player accuracy. Successful performances all around result in a cheering crowd and unblemished music, while someone who has more butterfingers than Bart Simpson will get the crowd booing, and eventually end up prematurely ending the show. Fortunately, you can sacrifice your star power (a bonus points meter that you can activate for…well, bonus points) to save an ailing ally, getting them back into the game and hopefully back on track. Looking for a good time? Don’t call Jenny, play in No-Fail or Karaoke mode, which will prevent score failures and let you just sing and play along all night.
The character customization is deep, allowing for a wide variety of character models. The career mode lets you earn fans for your band with successful performances, which build up and help you progress in a different way. Blah, blah, blah, HOW ABOUT THE SONGS? The selection included on the Rock Band 3 disc, while it has some misses, is actually really great. Throw in your entire Rock Band and Rock Band 2 disc songs, and all of the DLC songs in the Rock Band Store and Rock Band Network, and you have almost 4,000 songs to play. Unfortunately, importing songs you already own on RB and RB2 discs does cost MSP, and each download song from the Rock Band Store (excluding the more variable pricing of Rock Band Network) is 160MSP. I do not think that charging to import songs you already own on disc is a strong selling point, by any means, and I would be far more willing to empty my entire MSP wallet into the Rock Band Store if the standard price per song was 80MSP instead of 160MSP. That being said, I’ve already thrown over 2000MSP at them, and I have a great collection of songs to show for it. Y’know, eventually. The Rock Band Store is kind of slow.
I remember sitting and watching with unparalleled awe the very first video showing Rock Band in action. The ability to not only use the established guitar/bass controller but drum and sing along as a full band to some fantastic songs was breathtaking. To this very day, the fact that this game can put you in a band situation still blows my mind. Wonderfully, the game offers online multiplayer so that you can play with your friends at any time. Even more wonderfully, though, is getting all of your friends together in one spot to play it as a band. I’m sure that, at some point in the past, you’ve been in a situation where one person starts singing a song, then another person joins in, and another, and another. Before you know it, the entire group is singing along with wild abandon. That is what playing Rock Band 3 in a room full of friends feels like. The peripherals can get pricey, especially if you plan on having a full set available for either solo variety or for group performances, but spaced out over time, the cost becomes easier to bear. Nearly two years after its release, Rock Band 3 is now available for around $19.99.
|Take a hike, air bands|
Local and online MP rocking out
|Store loads slowly|
Requires pricey peripherals
Song purchases would be easier at 80MSP