Rhythm games are kind of going out of style, but I still enjoy them. Harmonix raised the bar pretty high with Rock Band 3 and I think sealed the fate of Guitar Hero in the process (Harmonix actually invented Guitar Hero if you didn't know, and it's now developed by Neversoft). There are many great improvements to the gameplay in RB3 as well as a more efficient interface, and the Keyboard is a fun new addition to the band.
Among my favorite new interface changes is the ability for band members to drop in and out of the band at any time -- including mid-song. No longer do you have to drop back to the character selection menu. Each player has their own mini options menu that can be used while another player is browsing the song list. It's quite clever and makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.
The story mode is all but gone. You increase your fanbase by playing songs in Quickplay and going through the Road Challenges. Quickplay is pretty much the same. It's now quicker to get to and the filtering options are greatly improved. The songlist in quickplay also lists recommended songs from the rock band music store, which I like. Road Challenges are sets of pre-chose, random and custom setlists where your band has to perform various challenges to acquire Spades in addition to Stars. Challenges are like "Maintain the target streak" and "Maintain Overdrive for as long as you can" kind of things. It's fun and sometimes quite difficult.
The most innovative new addition to the game is obviously the Keyboard as well as the new Pro mode for Pro-Keys, Pro-Drums and Pro-Guitar. My wife is actually a classically trained pianist so she naturally gravitated to Pro Keys. She says that it would be better for her if they just streamed the actual musical notes in Pro-Keys rather than the complex button stream that they use. So she's not a fan. Me? I don't even try because I find Medium and Hard keys in regular mode to be quite a challenge (and fun). For Pro Drums, you need a drumkit with 3 cymbals and I believe 2 pedals. I actually use the Logitech premium Guitar Hero kit, which only has 2 cymbals and 1 pedal. So I wasn't able to try out the Pro Drums mode. It's disabled if you don't have a pro drumkit. For Pro Guitar, you need the 100+ button guitar controller, which I don't think has been released yet at the time of this review.
But aside from the Pro mode, I find the keyboard actually really fun. My wife does too. It's a very welcome new addition to the band. It sounds corny, but it feels real to me.
Now for the things I don't like about the game. First is the leaderboard. In order to see your friends scores on the leaderboard, you either have to wait 5 seconds for each song and it'll display in the little info pane or you have press Y to go to a leaderboard menu and then filter by your friends. It makes competition with your friends actually kind of tedious and I think they should change it to be closer to what it was like in Beatles Rock Band. The character customization is confusing and tedious as well. Instead of listing all of your clothing in one long menu, there are various submenus. So if you want to find a particular article of clothing you liked, you have to take a guess as to which odd category it will be in. They should have just made filtering options like in the song list. Or they should have just let you import your RB2 character. I feel like some of the songs did not go through the best quality control process. I've seen some songs list 0-stars for drum difficulty only to play the song and find out that it's actually really difficult on drums. I find the difficulty ratings actually kind of arbitrary anyway -- especially for drums. There are also some bugs when signing in and changing instruments.
In all, the game is really solid and easily the best in the series. I would recommend it and the Keyboard to anyone who is a fan of these games.
The quality of this keyboard is really good. The keys are heavy, and it seems to play like a 'real' keyboard. I have no complaints at all about this piece of hardware.
I am also enjoying RB3 using the keyboard. Here are a few caveats that people who are debating on whether to buy it should know in regards to keyboard PRO mode:
First, reading the notes/chords on the scrolling RB screen is FAR more difficult than actually reading music (at least to me). I've played the piano since I was about 13, but I have trouble with the RB interface. It can sometimes be difficult to see what notes are linked together for the chords, especially for a faster song. Unlike with the guitar, I almost always have to go into practice mode and slow it down first before actually playing it with the band, as sight reading via the scroll is difficult. I then kind of translate the notes in my head into real music in order to "see" them better.
Second, you are only doing pro keyboard for your right hand. With the keyboard being limited to two octaves, this makes sense. It's just something that isn't fully explained prior to purchase.
Third, the songs for keyboard out of the box are somewhat limited. You really need to go the store and download additional stuff to get a good variety of songs that feature the keyboard/piano.
As for RB3 overall, we are enjoying it. Career mode seems a bit less structured than before, and we like that we can create our own set lists for some of the road gigs as well as just play whatever we want and still get credit for the career. I find the character models are pretty hideous though. It was difficult to make one that didn't look like a freak of nature.
Overall, I am pleased with the purchase, and the keyboard adds a whole new dimension to the game. Looking forward to trying out PRO Guitar mode in the future.
My Rock Band 3 game works perfectly, I haven't had any issues. However, occasionally I go to play the keyboard and the keys won't work. Any 360 button will work (arrow keys, ABXY, etc), but the keyboard keys themselves won't. I looked it up and apparently this is a common thing for Mad Catz keyboards, and the solution is to shut it off and turn it on again. Not the best!
RockBand 3 is a lot of fun -- whether you're enjoying home alone or playing with family/friends. If you've got a musical background, you've got a slight jump on others, but a skilled gamer may do just as well by simply pushing the right key when the indicator reaches the target! The genius of the software is that as long as you push the right keys at the right time, you hear the original performance intact. If you mess up, your part (here, the keyboards) goes silent, and you hear "clunks" (like a "dead" key on a traditional piano).
A variety of skill levels and two modes of keyboard play (basically, one uses only five keys on the keyboard, the other uses nearly the full keyboard) makes this fun for just about everyone, and offers great opportunities for continuing to play the game for months and years ahead. In the "Pro" mode, you're playing along with the music based on indicators on an on-screen keyboard (the game doesn't use musical notation).
The game comes with a decent variety of songs, and there are thousands of additional titles available for purchase (typically the equivalent of $1 or $2 each, in Microsoft Points). Most are rock (many heavy metal), but there's a good selection of 70s rock, 80s pop, and a few country and classical piano tunes.
The keyboard itself feels very substantial, but is light enough to be easy to use. The keys feel very much like a "regular" MIDI keyboard.
Hook up a microphone, and you've got a top-end karaoke machine. If you've got a second mic or more instruments, that's when you can create your own band at home.
I regret not having bought the game and keyboard sooner -- but so enjoy it, I've already given two sets as gifts.
With Rock Band 3, Harmonix has decided to take a bold step into the world of pseudo-musicianship. The keyboard peripheral is an attempt to teach you how to play an actual musical instrument. In this case, a two octave keyboard. And therein lies one of it's limitations. This game can teach you how to manipulate a keyboard with one hand, but that is only getting half the job done.
The other limitation lies in the fact that Harmonix has merely extended their musical notation system to include the extra keys of the controller instead of adopting the more classical musical notation system that musicians actually use. Through repetition it will be possible to transfer this learning to a real world situation, but only for the songs you learn to play in Rock Band on Pro Mode Expert difficulty. And only if your band doesn't expect you to play the bass parts.
I think that expectations should be tempered with regard to what musicianship may be gained from this video game. However, as a video game control device, the keyboard is extremely fun to play with. If the Pro Keys mode is too intimidating, or just too frustrating, you can also play in regular mode which lets you reduce the number of viable keys down to the familiar five.
With it's working MIDI port, this is as real a musical instrument as you are going to be able to play with Rock Band until the Fender Squier is released next year. I can certainly see how this might whet the appetite of someone who might be interested in pursuing a more serious study of music, but as a means to an end, it should be remembered that this is first and foremost a video game.
Having said all of that, I have been a musician for thirty years. I have studied music classically and I have also learned that not everything can be taught in "schools". Therefore, I can not dismiss this attempt to cross the line between virtual learning and real. Who knows if this game will inspire anyone to become a "real" musician. I do know that this is the only party game I play at my house...
...and I would remind all of my musician friends who revile the age of plastic intruments, that this same scorn was evidenced when computer music came of age. There are those that embrace the future and there are those who are left behind. And the bottom line is if you enjoy music and you enjoy video games, then you should be having fun playing Rock Band.
I love playing Rockband and this was a pleasant addition to our little band. I am usually the singer, but wanted to play an instrument as well. Hubby is the Drums, so I don't even try. I have always been told I have great hands for playing the Piano, so I thought I would try the Keyboard. I love it and the fact that it's wireless is even better!! I personally do all the tutorials in order to learn to play and they were great and easy to follow. I just think it's cool that we have all the instruments now and our band is complete.
The franchise has really held me over for years to come, and having seen them implement keys has convinced me to keep up with that generation. The gameplay is almost the same, but the features that have been added and not available in comparison to previous games can make or break a deal in making you want to stick with the game anymore.
Considering this, I'm glad to be a part of this game and hype for the time, as it has held me over much longer than few other games that base on speed, patience or logic.
The keyboard controller is also small enough to wear like a guitar and has MIDI out support for when you want to use it for other purposes.
I can't stop playing RockBand. I recently purchased a real set of drums and used a midi adapter to interface with RB3. Wow! The experience has been unreal, my drum teacher is blown away at how quickly I have picked up new techniques and beats. RB3 is a great tool for learning drums or keyboard. If you want to learn to play guitar, buy Rock Smith and use a real guitar. But if you want to play keyboard and drums RB3 is as real as they get. Works just like professional drum training software! I didn't even want the keyboard originally, but it was only a couple bucks more for the game and the keyboard! Works great, no regrets here.
Our Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard and Software Bundle arrived last Friday. Exporting songs from Rock Band 2 was a piece of cake, and we let it run while we played Rock band 3.
Because we don't like to sing, our band has a drummer, a bass guitarist, a lead guitarist, and now a keyboardist. We play without the All Instruments mode on because we don't want the lyrics to occupy valuable real estate on our widescreen TV.
I used to be the bass guitarist, and I'm still getting the hang of the keyboard. I'm not sure why and how earlier articles had said any key within the correct color band can be pushed during the performance if you play in Standard mode. The keyboard doesn't work this way at all in this mode. In fact, only any of 5 keys work. You can choose either the very first five keys on the left or the middle five keys. Or if you are 'adventurous', pick a key from either end as long as you match the note on your highway. Basically, ignore the color strips on the keyboard while playing in Standard mode. I have not tried the keyboard in Pro Mode yet so I can't comment on this. I am still getting used to the fact that my index finger no longer hits the green button the way it used to on a guitar neck. It's fun, and I am enjoying the experience so far.
We like the new game format and sound effect changes in the game so far. We got really tired, however, of the wacky MTV-like visuals in the first two Road Challenges. Seriously, Harmonix, we had to wonder if your designers were a little high. It was a HUGE relief to play in venues after the mind-numbing colorful madness.
Character creation is AWESOME in Rock Band 3. We love the array of options! The new loot is also hysterical. We do miss the music trivia, although this is not a game breaker.