About the product
- RB3 has great new party modes for quick rocking sessions with friends, as well as a whole new universe of challenges including a revamped Career Mode and 700+ goals and rewards
- Game track list contains over 80 of the best bands from around the world, including bands that have never appeared in a music game, and support for existing Rock Band tracks
- Create and save set lists, and share them with your friends online and enjoy improved song sorting makes it easier to find the songs you like
- Expand the band with the optional keyboard peripheral and 3-part vocals harmonies, together allowing support for up to 7 players
- Take your passion for music to the next level with Rock Band Pro functionality that lets you develop real musical instrument skills through gameplay
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Rock Band 3 is the next generation of the ultimate social and interactive music gaming platform developed by the category’s leading pioneers, Harmonix Music Systems. Featuring innovative game modes and instruments, Rock Band 3 will change the way fans think about and play music games.
Rock Band 3 is the third main release in the iconic video game series that challenges gamers to live out their Rock & Roll fantasies together in a band situation, both locally and online. The game features an ever expanding song list from every era of Rock & Roll history, easy to pick up yet challenging addictive Note Highway gameplay, compatibility with earlier releases in the series and all platform-specific instrument controllers including most Guitar Hero controllers, extreme in-game character and band customization, and a slew of new features. These new features include: new setlist search functionality, the addition of 3-part harmonies and a keyboard peripheral and expanded play modes, including the advanced Pro Mode.
The Most Music. Period
The Rock Band 3 disc soundtrack contains 83 tracks by the best bands from around the world, including bands that have never appeared in a music game, as well as support for existing Rock Band tracks (Rock Band and Rock Band 2 discs, downloaded songs, track packs, AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack, LEGO Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band). Additionally, Rock Band 3 gives players immediate access to a music library approaching 2,000 songs by launch, with new content added regularly. With a selection like this, it is clear that Rock Band's gigantic music selection dwarfs that of any other music game on the market. The full track list includes:
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Redesigned Music Library
Rock Band 3 allows players to create and save setlists and share them with friends, both in-game and through RockBand.com. In addition, new song filters make it easier to find the types of songs fans want to play and hide the songs they don't, while a built-in song recommendation system will suggest tracks from Rock Band's colossal music library, based on personal fan preference.
Expand the Band
In addition to guitar, bass, drums and solo vocals, Rock Band 3 adds three-part vocal harmony functionality that was introduced with The Beatles: Rock Band and, for the first time ever, a keyboard peripheral to the band. The combination of all these possibilities means that up to seven players can rock together in Rock Band 3 for the ultimate social gaming experience.
Go Pro: Take Your Passion to the Next Level
Rock Band 3 empowers players to develop actual musical skills through the fun of fully scalable Rock Band Pro gameplay. Fans can dive in on the Easy setting to try out basic skills and work their way up to Expert for real mastery. Pro Drums supports three expansion cymbals, with gameplay differentiation between toms and cymbals. Pro Keys (Keyboard) features pitch-accurate keyboard performance across a two-octave range, displayed on an easy-to-read keyboard track. Pro Guitar features noted guitar and bass performances, available for play with either the new Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar simulated guitar controller from Mad Catz, or the Rock Band 3 Squier by Fender Stratocaster guitar controller that is a real guitar/controller hybrid. The Rock Band 3 Squier Stratocaster is a fully functional, full-sized, six-string electric guitar that also functions as a game controller.
New Gameplay Modes
For the casual player, Rock Band 3 has great new party modes that allow fans to get rocking with friends quicker than ever, including party shuffle and persistent drop-in/dropout and difficulty selection from any gameplay screen. For the serious player, the revamped Career Mode features 700+ goals and rewards and seamless leaderboard integration for an endlessly deep campaign experience. Rock Band 3 also adds a suite of social networking tools to the game so fans can engage friends and fellow rockers over Facebook, Twitter and more. Whether players want to jump in for a quick song or take their band to the top, Rock Band 3 has a mode for everyone.
Top Customer Reviews
Major improvements over Rock Band 2 include:
- Being able to drop in and out of a session without having to resort to "backing out" into the lobby area to add/drop players. HUGE plus; no longer is there the audible groan emitted by the group when someone wants to take a break or "hey, I want to play!"
- Filtering / song selection is a LOT friendlier. You can now sort by song genres, decades, game versions, etc. in a much more controlled manner giving you better access to your songs.
- As your band goes on the road, the in-between videos of driving to your next gig, or the parties after your concert to the aftermath that ensues is an awesome personal touch.
- Pro Mode keyboards (Mustang PRO guitar will arrive 11/26; I'll edit my review once I get it) are a challenge, but a blast. It definitely wants to make me excel; it's so much fun. A big concern that I had was whether or not there would be a range of difficulties in PRO Mode so I can baby-step into it; rest assured, there is. Both PRO and regular modes have difficulties ranging from Easy to Expert.
- Character customization is far more powerful and I like the range of choices far better.
- Song choice has expanded considerably with the introduction of the keyboard.
- Harmonies are now supported in Rock Band 3 a la Beatles and Green Day.
- And oh, it's a doozy. You want to have 2 guitars, a keyboard, and a vocalist at the same time? Nope. It won't happen. It...will...not...let you. Well, that's not EXACTLY true. The ONLY way that you can have these combination of peripherals work is if you enter "All Instruments Mode" which will support 2 guitars, a keyboard, a drum set, and your vocalists. What's the complaint, you ask? Well, vocalists are forced into "karaoke mode" which means that all their singing is for naught...no overdrive, nothing. Rock Band 2 had a similar thing...it was called "stand behind the couch and sing along while 2 guitars and the drum set are utilized with the mic turned off." In fact, I could have a choir going on with Rock Band 2 with the mic turned off. I can make it a 24-player game. The effect is about the same for me in Rock Band 3. It's stupid and costs the game a single star for me.
Not only that, but you can't have 1 guitar, 1 bass, and a keyboard at the same time either without being forced into "All Instruments Mode." It will force you into it, vocalist or no. The downside to all of this is that you can't enter into an online session if you're in "All Instruments Mode."
Overall, it's a great game. Why they could support a vocal/keyboard/drum/guitar (or bass) combination but NOT a vocal/keyboard/guitar/bass combination staggers me. There is already one complaint (or I should more accurately say, "how do you do it" post) on the [...] forum.
If that issue doesn't bother you, then rush out and get it. If it does, then you have been warned.
-- Edit 10 / 30 / 2010 --
To make matters worse, this problem appears to extend to online sessions as well. We tried drums and keyboard at my house while my friends' house had guitar, bass, and vocals. The guitar + bass + keyboard combination appears to be the kiss of death; it WILL NOT WORK as of 10 / 30 / 2010. Through troubleshooting, we figured out that the highest number of participants that you can engage is 6: 1 bass / 1 guitar (or keyboard, just not a combination of the 3) / 3 vocalists (harmonies must be in the same household; we could not get harmonies to work in different households) / 1 drum. The box says 2 - 7 players online. We could not make 7 work. Please chime in if you could and what combination that you utilized to make it happen.
Hopefully, Harmonix produces a patch for this issue because the nexus behind Rock Band 3 (and what all of us were led to believe) was that the keyboard became the additional instrument, not the frustrating "and / or" situation that it has become. Buyer be warned.
-- Edit 11 / 10 / 2010 --
Harmonix posted a Top 10 FAQ. They may be working on a patch which may resolve some outstanding issues, but it's not specifically clear whether or not they intend on addressing the All Instruments Mode issue. I will continue to track this.
If this issue is fixed in the future, I will update this review. In the meantime, I stand by deducting a star from an otherwise awesome game.
-- Edit 12 / 26 / 2010 --
All Instruments Mode is still around. I'm afraid that it might be around to stay. While it's not a deal-killer for all, I'm afraid that it will alienate the singers out there.
I'm figuring most of you already figured out that Rock Band is the more serious game compared to Guitar Hero. We have several versions of Guitar Hero, and it is a good game. But Rock Band is just a whole different world. My frame of reference with Rock Band 3, this game is really beautiful. I like the play list so much more, the menus are more intuitive, and it's less of a game and is more music. There are so many great reviews of this game, I'm not sure I can pile on any more good words.
The game and the Stratocaster, is a whole different world compared to the button mashing controllers. A whole new and different set of skills are required. Playing this game with the Strat is not easy.
The guitar is good looking. Nobody will ever mistake it for the genuine article Strat - there is only one pick up, there's no tremolo bar, only a volume control (no tone controls), there is a string damper, and there are a couple of extra video game like buttons. Remember this is a Squire - Fender's entry level guitar - not a real live Strat. Squires without the controller are very inexpensive, in the hundred dollar range. But sitting in your game room on a stand, this thing looks really good from a distance.
Game play is amazing. It's a good idea to start with the lessons. Rock Band has developed a whole set of lessons to help you learn how to play this guitar. Even though you may be a good guitarist or the best Rock Band player in the world, it is still important to rip through those lessons. Understanding the numbers and strings is a bit difficult at first. The lessons are really nice, starting with single strings, playing different notes on one string at a time; then progressing to mixing up the notes on different strings; and then hitting the whole chord playing thing. The cool part of the lessons, you can see on the screen where you put your fingers and which strings you struck. If you did something wrong, the lesson stops and shows you what you should do.
It's a good idea to try a few songs on Easy level, single notes, that don't mix up too many strings at once. Rock Band has done a great job at getting you comfortable with the guitar.
There are some odd things about playing the guitar with the game:
In order to register the notes well, you have to raise a string damping device. Whenever you pick a string, the sound from the guitar is not the sound of a real note. It's the sound of a plastic pick flicking a metal rod. If you play the game really loud, you'll never hear the sound. But at normal levels this is kind of an odd sound.
The neck feels very strange compared to a real guitar. Fender did the best they could with a nice smooth maple neck, but they then had to put a plastic part over the top of that neck to include the finger sensors. There are no buttons on the neck, just this continuous sensor that makes for an odd profile.
Getting exactly the right finger position and striking the right string are a little odd compared to playing a real guitar. You have to strike the string hard to register a note - this is a bad habit with a real guitar.
For the guitarist. My particular guitar doesn't hold tune very well. This might be newness, it might be normal for Squiers, it might be the strings are stretching, or it might be the string damper. I'm hoping that problem goes away. You won't be able to use coated strings (like Elixirs) because the string has to make electrical contact with the fret and those coatings are insulation. This guitar requires very light strings, 0.009. That will feel very odd to an electric guitar player. The neck profile is very different from a standard guitar, and it will feel strange. The single pick up is a design decision to keep costs down. This appears to have a very strange truss rod. There is no adjustment in the headstock; instead there is an Allen screw just below the 14th fret (at the neck / body joint). This apparently only adjusts the curvature of the neck - not the action height as it does on most guitars. The bridge is where you adjust the action individually on each string. I'm not a big fan of this arrangement; I hate to touch a bridge. The action out of the box is pretty high. The black finish is nice, but nothing really special (but what would anyone expect). The guitar form is just exactly right; it is a full size Squire body. The guitar feels a bit light compared to the normal guitar. I'm sure they had to remove a lot of wood inside the body to fit in the batteries and controller hardware. It is hard to imagine playing this guitar at a gig. In a pinch, I guess it would do. You cannot bend chords or notes on this guitar during game play. The game gets totally confused.
The guitar requires three AA batteries to use it in the game. Playing through an amp, no need for the batteries. The guitar can apparently be used as a midi controller also. The guitar is not wireless - you have to plug it into the midi adapter (has to be bought separately) and the adapter has to be plugged into the console. There is absolutely no wireless possible. You will also do all the game controlling (menu selections) from that adapter, not the guitar.
In early March 2011, the time of writing this review, the most complicated part about buying this guitar is the required Midi adapter. The Xbox version is really easy to find. The PS3 version is impossible to find. Mad Catz shows no stock or an availability date, Amazon shows the classic high demand item astronomical price by a reseller, and Best Buy shows no stock anywhere in any store in all of Illinois or Indiana. It just happened that my store had one sitting on the shelf, but not listed in inventory. I got super lucky. Good luck finding one of those beasts. The controller is super simple and not very well built. I'm guessing it wouldn't stand up to being stepped on one time.
This is by far the best game experience I've ever had, bar none. The feeling of playing a guitar and playing a game is just too exciting. This combination should appeal to a lot of people - from the game controller player that wants a new challenge, to somebody that wants to learn the guitar, to somebody that already plays the guitar. Yes, a three hundred fifty dollar electric guitar would be a much better investment, but how many of us would actually take the lessons?