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Platform: Nintendo Wii|Edition: Game|Change
Price:$29.47+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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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.
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on October 31, 2010
Overall, Rock Band 3 adds some great features and enhancements, but there are a few things you should be aware of before purchasing (I bought on launch day, so I had to experience most of these first hand). I'm not going to chronicle every feature's positive and negative here (I haven't tested many of them), but I just want to give you a sense of my biggest impressions.

--The Good
It's Rock Band with more songs, Rock Band 2 importing, and "Pro" instruments. What's not to like? I only have the Pro Keys and Pro Drums (no Pro Guitar) and both are a lot of fun. I actually like many of the songs (not all, naturally...that's how most of these games go, and why there's downloadable songs available to get more specific tracks).

There are many improvements in basic gameplay and game design. For example, activating "Overdrive" (Star Power if you come from Guitar Hero) is less distracting but still visually attractive. These tweaks are very welcome.

--The Bad
I personally think most of the graphics on RB3 are worse than RB2; it's a bit of a mixed bag. I've seen some very pretty games on Wii (Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Bros. Wii, etc.) and they put this game to shame. I've tried both the Wii's default RCA (composite) cables and special component cables, but still get pretty iffy graphics, even for Wii standards (which are lower than PS3 and Xbox 360). Some details just aren't that appealing (as in previous games, the notes 'explode' when played, but this time they do so in a cloud of cheesy-looking smoke). Sometimes there are weird visual glitches in the menus and during gameplay, like flickering lighting. They aren't enough to destroy the actual act of playing, but they do make the experience a bit less enjoyable. While the character models are improved, they have similar motions to RB2, and so feel very similar.

The "overshell", as it is called, lets players log in and out, change difficulty and the like all without disturbing main gameplay. In party play, this tends to be really hard to use; people don't really want to take the time to log in and out, and due to the limitations of the game's controller scheme (see my edits to the review on the Rock Band 3 Wireless Pro-Drum and Pro-Cymbals Kit for Wii) there can be issues with getting the right instruments into the game at the right time without conflicts.

--The Ugly
At the time I'm writing this review, there is no import into Rock Band 3 from Rock Band 1 or Lego Rock Band on the Wii (other consoles have import support for those games). RB2 and Green Day Rock Band both are stated to import on RB3 Wii (I've only tested the RB2 import first-hand--note that it requires an extra fee). There's no word on when (or if) RB1 and LRB songs can be imported.

I also found there were a few too many effects during main gameplay. Sometimes this is a minor annoyance, like when it is is hard to see the notes, but it also causes some more issues: I had one or two cases where there were so many flashing lights that I got a little dizzy. But maybe that was because I was too close to the TV. :)

--The Conclusion
There are definitely some issues with the game; I think it was rushed out for the holiday season. That said, I'll still be playing it frequently. The Pro Modes are great additions, and I'm looking forward to the new songs they release through the Rock Band store. Still a huge "Buy" in my book, just don't assume it lives up to all the hype.

--One Last Piece of Advice...
If you have another console, you may want to consider buying Rock Band 3 for it instead of the Wii. You'll be able to import the songs from previous games without a problem, and some of the bugs I've mentioned above may be fixed in your versions with a patch (the Wii being unpatchable) at some point.
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on October 26, 2010
The title says it all - from improved menus, enhanced graphics, better game play - oh, and don't forget the entire 2,000+ song catalog (including "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen!), of which you can play almost all of them on this one game!
The new drop-in-drop-out feature is used in both the menus and during songs - allowing anyone to come in whenever they feel like it instead of having to wait till the end of the song/the band goes back to the character selection screen... which there's none in this one. Almost everything can be done from your personal pause menu, from character selection to modifiers, from extras to online playability.
The career mode has been combined into quickplay - so, you and a few friends play for fun for a few hours? Bam, you've dived into the career mode without even trying.
The online DLC store/import menu is a great feature, allowing you to buy any of the songs in the catalog and import songs from (at least) Rock Band 2 (if you have RB2) all in one area.
My only complaint is that the stand-ins for your characters when it's just you and not your "real" band mates are hard to figure out. They don't provide the position in the band, just slots for stand-ins.
The graphics - which the Wii's known for it's lacking in the graphic area - are great! Second only to The Conduit and (supposedly) Conduit 2, these are the best graphics I've gotten out of the Wii in awhile.
Remember the "Unison bonus" from RB & RB2? They've got those in single player now. When a gold bar appears on the sides of your track whilst hitting an Overdrive section, then you'll get twice the Overdrive of normal. The vocals are of the same quality as that of Beatles Rock Band, and guitar, bass, and drums are just the same. Though, you can turn on and off the drum fills now.
I haven't really gotten to Keys, because I have yet to get the keyboard. But I have faith in it.
And I haven't even mentioned Pro mode yet.
Pro drums is exactly like a drum kit (being a drummer myself, I'd know.) Each pad/cymbal corresponds to a different part of a drum kit, and they're represented on the screen very well. The only difference is in the hi-hat pedal, which I'm still working out.
Guitar and bass, though something I have yet to try for obvious reasons, seems to be a tab. A lot of people complain about the chords being the first fret marked and the others as a "wave" shape. But you can enable numbers for each string during a chord. It's basically a tab.
Pro keys = normal keys on steroids, okay?

This game is the best game of the year, for the music lover.
Period.
No questions asked.
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on December 27, 2013
Rock Band has become an institution in the gaming world, and also at our house. It has been a lot of fun! But there are a few issues that leave me cold on giving it a 100% recommendation.

First, the song selection. I'd say that maybe one third of the songs appeal to me on this set. But, thank goodness for downloads--I was able to download a few dozen tracks over the past year or so, and this has greatly enhanced the set for us. It might have been better if they'd have sold just the "shell" of the game (so to speak), and let you pick out your own initial group of songs for free from the Rock Band store.

Next, the songs on easy or medium mode, to me, are actually too easy, or too hard to follow. I need more notes to play. But, that stems from me being a musician. Hitting one out of four or eight notes is difficult, if not ultimately boring. On the flip side, try playing Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Rude Mood" in either Hard or Expert mode if you want the ultimate Rock Band challenge--it'll mentally wipe you out (as you untangle your fingers)!

One other quibble I have is with the balance of the instruments. At times, things are too out of balance, and it varies by song. Occasionally, the rest of the band will be too buried in the mix and too difficult to hear, meaning that your solo instrument is very overbearing. In other cases, I've had the solo instrument be a bit too buried (using the same system settings). I was able to turn off the highly annoying "strum" when you miss a note, however.

Finally, who decided that all the male characters would be White Zombie rejects, or all the girls stuck in a Goth mode? It's hard to style your own character when you dislike just about all of the choices. Minor complaint but still worth noting if you're into looks.
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on July 25, 2011
First of all, I love the Rock band series, I've been playing it all since the beginning and Harmonix has made another great game with Rock Band 3, the changes in pausing the game, drop out during a song and other such new features are appreciated but...

The Wii version of the game if full of an amazingly high amount of bugs, which have been widely reported, for example:

* At times when you start a song there will be a very loud buzzy, louder than the soundtrack, the only way to stop it is to exit the song and try again.
* The characters during game play will lose body parts.
* The in game drummer will lose the drums stick and they'll float about half a foot about the character's hands.
* The auto calibrate does not calibrate the game properly such as it did in Rock Band 2.
* And a variety of other character visual bugs during game play...

The Wii version also lacks the ability to import songs from Rock Band 1 and Lego Rock Band which are all features on the Xbox and PS3 version. On the bright side it can import songs from Rock Band 2, although it can literally take hours to accomplish with close monitoring. I strongly advise to wait until the future WiiU version that is bound to come out someday (Rock band 4 perhaps?)
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on November 30, 2010
I am the basic person out there playing my Wii so I am not the hardest core gamer nor am I am unknowlegable. This review is bascially a collection of opinions from my group of friends who come over to play rock band at my home. 10 People in Total.

What we Like:
All the New Songs
The ability to have back up singers brings a new challenge
A New Instrument (the Keyboard)
The New stats that we can view after each song.
The way the indicator follows the words on the screen.
Being able to import other Rock band songs from previous games.
The words are larger than the other Rock band games which helps alot
Being able to make the many changes during song play, (enter, join, unjoin, difficulity change, pausing, restart, etc.)

What we Hate:
The characters are terrible. we all think they look like ugly aliens, after creating our own characters we all voted that we perfer Rock band 2 characters.

The fact that the characters have way to must butt crack showing. Quite disturbing.

The crazy physcodelic backgrounds during the play of many songs. Even from a distance it hurts your eyes, messes up game play because it blends with the colors you use to follow whether your singing or using the instruments.

As a Singer, going into Overdrive is extremely hard. Even when scoring 100% all the way down the board actually going into overdrive is a maybe situation during game play. You can hold a note, scream, sing, pat the mic, breath into it and Overdrive will not activate. You got to hope it will, forget about the singer saving other band members because it cannot be counted on. This is a new mic and my old faithful.

A situation we call THE BUZZ. Suddenly the game will emit a loud buzz and then singing or playing of instrustments will not register. You have to restart the whole system. Something that doesnt happen with any other game, we have gone through this many times already.

All of us playing in the same band. We have found that for every instrument you must create a profile each profile is a new band. You cant pick the same profile/band for every instrument. Also it would be nice to be able to pick your back up singers characters. We were disappointed with out that option.

While Singing - The Tamborine technique, doesnt register properly even with a brand new microphone. Total disappointment. You have to puff air hard at the microphone to hopefully get some type of registration. we have tapped it with hands, on our legs, chest and a pillow with no response. We have set the sensitivity in many diffrent ways still with no change.

Now that we have played rockband 3 and brought our purchased songs from rock band 2 over. We decided to go back to our favortie Rock Band 2 and now the SD Card is disabled and we cant play any of the purchased songs or redownload them to play. So we decided to play rock band 3 and now the purchased songs are gone from rock band 3. So basically until I find a solution we have lost every purchased song. They are somewhere on the SD card but neither game will allow us to play them.

Basically I was ok with having both games and playig them accordig to the feel of the day. But now that we cant play the purchases songs with either game it Makes me regret buying this game if it means i cant play Rock Band 2 when I want.
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on August 23, 2013
As with the previous titles, Rock Band 3 allows players to simulate the playing of rock music and many other subgenres using special instrument controllers mimicking lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. Rock Band 3 expands upon previous games by including three-part vocal harmonies and support for a keyboard instrument, a MIDI-compatible 25-key unit. New, "Pro" mode, which is designed as a learning tool to accurately mimic playing of real instruments. In Pro mode, real guitar and bass players have to match specific fingering on frets and strings, drummers have to strike cymbal pads in addition to snare and toms, and keyboardists have to use precise fingering across the whole keyboard. MadCatz manufactured a 102-button controller and Fender built a real, stringed guitar with built-in electronics and enhancements to support Pro mode. The game includes 83 songs, plus existing game content, including prior downloadable content and songs from the Rock Band Network, carry forward into the game, with the full Rock Band library nearing over 4,000 songs. Rock Band 3 is designed to take advantage of players' existing libraries by providing user-created set lists and challenges and tools to easily search and select songs from the library. The addition of keyboards broadens the potential music library for the series and the revamped career structure. The game's Pro mode brings the rhythm game genre closer to teaching players to learn real instruments, no interest on my part but the kids love this and have learn one guitar and the other drums (also expensive).
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on May 26, 2011
I have been playing this game for some time,and have downloaded plenty of extra music for it. I love Rock Band and when I play solo I have few to no problems but when we play as a family there are many bugs and glitches. Particularly with the microphone - most times it is difficult to impossible to go into overdrive. Often we will get bad feedback when a new song loads. Many times the game as locked up and we have to restart. I would give this game 5 stars if it worked consistently. Sadly it doesn't
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on December 9, 2013
After just a few weeks, this game has already led to long nights with dozens of guests jamming out.

It doesn't take anyone very long to hate the Easy and Medium levels, because the notes are just too far apart to be representative of the song you want to play. So in my first week I was already playing Hard and even Expert. But it's fun!

So into my second week, I bought the Fender Pro guitar and an Alesis DM-6 with the Mad Catz MIDI-Pro adapter, and now it's a lot more like playing real music. Much harder, but way more fun and realistic.

After a few nights with this game, my friends have all started buying real instruments. Can't say that for Call of Duty! :)
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on February 22, 2015
I have had this game since release and still love to play this! I have a huge DLC library (still growing) and I love the Pro mode (Just bought the Pro guitar)! I am really hoping they release a RB4 for Wii U and allow all DLC to transfer and have all current instruments compatible with the new game!
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