Top positive review
35 people found this helpful
A must buy, but with some disappointments
on November 20, 2010
As a Wii-only owner, it's frustrating to see how the system is so frequently short-changed by developers. Despite being the least powerful system in its generation, the Wii still has potential that goes largely untapped by most developers other than Nintendo. In the case of Rock Band 3, I'm happy to report that, for the most part, it takes full advantage of what the Wii is capable of. Finally, users can download up to 32GB of DLC via the SD slot, take advantage of song exporting (though only RB2 and Green Day Rock Band are permitted now), track packs in the music store, and have all the same modes and functions as the 360/PS3 iterations, including the new Pro mode.
Of course, RB3 also introduces a brand new instrument with the keyboard. I won't be speaking too much about it, as I'm reviewing the game rather than the bundle, but it is worth picking up if you're interested in learning the keys, because it's a Pro-mode instrument out of the box. (Guitar, bass, and drums will require add-ons or all new instrument purchases in order to take advantage of their Pro modes.) The game includes some decent tutorials that attempt to teach you how to play the real thing, and playing Pro mode on each instrument is just like playing the songs in real life...because you're basically doing just that. It adds a new level of difficulty, but I wouldn't recommend putting down that kind of cash unless you're actually interested in learning the instrument or skilled enough to play at that level. If you're buying the game mostly for the social aspect, your old plastic instruments will work just fine. Also, I'd say buying the keyboard is contingent upon your interest in learning the keyboard and/or your desire to add a new instrument for another player. If you don't have a second guitar for bass, it can also play those parts (guitar parts as well), so it's worth picking up for that. But I haven't found myself too enthralled by the keyboard parts on most of the songs. (Some Ben Folds would change my opinion on this--a huge missed opportunity!) So is the keyboard worth it? It's really up to you...I bought it, because I'd love to work myself up to Pro mode, but I still find myself going back to guitar and drums most often.
All of RB2's features such as the character creator are still here, and largely improved. A notable difference between RB3 and its predecessor is that all of the on-disc songs are unlocked from the beginning, which is welcome if you just want to buy the game to play at parties. The career mode is also obviously present, but I personally prefer the way it was in RB2...RB3 just seems like a list of challenges rather than progressing through cities and venues as in RB2, which to me, gave more of a feeling of being in a real band. Another slight disappointment in comparison to RB2 is the graphics...somehow, RB2 looked prettier, which doesn't make sense because they've had two years to improve, and games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 have come along since that really display how beautiful Wii games can look. Also, while I like the drop-in/drop-out style of navigation, the text size of many menus is too small and I frequently have to stand closer to the TV to read it.
In terms of DLC, the catalog is bigger than ever, and while I'm happy to see Rock Band Network tracks finally being released to Wii, both Wii and PS3 owners still don't have access to the full RBN store, which remains exclusive to 360. Harmonix's excuse for not including this on Wii upon launching was that it would require a patch to RB2, which is a no-go on Wii, but now there's no excuse for not having this up and running for RB3. Instead, Wii/PS3 owners get "featured selections" from the RBN store, which is better than nothing, but still leaves room for improvement. It's also disappointing that as of this writing, only RB2 and Green Day RB are available to export into the Wii version of the game. Everything leading up to launch indicated that RB1, Lego RB, and the track pack discs would be available to export across all platforms, not merely on PS3 and 360. Given that up to 32GB of space is now available on Wii, there's no excuse to not allow these discs to export.
It's worth noting that Rock Band on Wii was a lazy PS2 port until Vicarious Visions, the team responsible for the Guitar Hero series on Wii, proved just how much is possible with GH:WT and GH5. Though I consider those games inferior on most levels, they paved the way for DLC, online modes, track packs, song exporting, and more that Harmonix once claimed wasn't possible due to "the limitations of the Wii." Giving credit where it's due, I really believe this game wouldn't be nearly what it is on Wii without Vicarious Visions showing Harmonix how to make it work on the system. With Viacom's looming sale of Harmonix, I'm in the minority who is hoping that Activision will swoop them up so Vicarious Visions can take over on the Wii side of things and do for Rock Band what they've done for Guitar Hero on the platform.
Furthermore, I still prefer Red Octane's Wii guitars and maybe even drums, primarily because they use the Wii Remote to go wireless rather than requiring a separate USB dongle and another set of batteries. The good thing is, they are compatible with every RB game since RB2, as well as every GH game. If you don't already have a set of instruments and you're not planning to go Pro, I'd recommend those available from Red Octane...you may even be able to find a GH/Band Hero bundle on sale to net you these instruments. I find them to be more sturdy and easier to play with, too.
Aside from a few disappointments, RB3 really delivers on Wii and I'd recommend it over any other rhythm game on the console, particularly for the huge DLC catalog and superior presentation. Overall, RB3 is a big step forward, but I think they could go even further, particularly on Wii. There's also a long way to go when it comes to the music store--I'd personally love to see it rival iTunes as a digital retailer, allowing DLC to transfer to your hard drive as MP3s. So while there are plenty of improvements in this entry to the series, it's not yet perfect. Still, RB3 is the current king of music games and I must label it a must buy.
UPDATE 11/24: Something was made aware to me this week when I took the game out to play as a full band with some friends. "All Instruments Mode" must be activated to play keys with more than one other guitar. This forces you to have a vocalist in your band...which isn't a huge deal, as vocals aren't scored in this mode, but it seems sloppy from a game design perspective. There's no way to play the four instruments without having a vocalist...it's forced upon you, and you can't de-activate the mode without backing out of a set. Also, the background animation during this mode is limited to music visualization...no band, no venue, etc., and the visualization is often distracting, sometimes making the notes more difficult to see. It's very disappointing that you can't even see your band when playing as a full band! At the very least, they should have had pre-rendered video of your band for this mode.
If there's an upside to All Instruments Mode, it's that someone can jump in and sing whenever they feel the urge, and not have to worry about failing out. But overall, it's disappointing that they couldn't have incorporated the keys more seamlessly. You shouldn't need to go into this mode at all unless you're playing with 5 or more players.
I'm also disappointed that the game still doesn't allow more than one player on guitar in band mode, as Guitar Hero does, rather than forcing one of the guitar controllers to play bass. Bass can be just as fun, but you often have both people on guitar wanting to play the guitar part, and I don't know why they wouldn't make that possible. This is especially frustrating when it comes to the keys, which *can* play bass/guitar parts...unless you already have a bassist and a guitarist, in which case, you have to limit yourself to the songs with keys support if you want to include your keyboardist. Why can't I have three guitarists if I want to?
While these things don't change my score, I've gotta say it makes RB3 seem less polished than RB2, despite the new features.