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Rock Band 3 Preview

Nick_Tan By:
Nick_Tan
06/19/10
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Rhythm 
PLAYERS 1- 4 
PUBLISHER MTV Games 
DEVELOPER Harmonix 
RELEASE DATE  
T Contains Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol

What do these ratings mean?

It's a musical trilogy!


After the onslaught of Guitar Hero band tributes, Rock Band band tributes, Guitar Hero V and soon VI, more than enough weekly song packs, and more Guitar Hero variants, I have just lost interest in the music rhythm genre. Where once was pride for being among the first to conquer "Through The Fire and Flames" is now just shame and a wasteland of dust and plastic in the corner of my living room. But all that changed in the instant of a single screenshot for Rock Band 3 that revealed a fifth instrument, which I’ve been playing since I was sometimes a raging Chinese stereotype six years old: keyboard.

click to enlargeThe surprise of the keyboard rests mainly on that it is on the highest stage, sharing the company of the familiar guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. beatmania incorporated five keys and the lesser known Keyboard Mania featured a two-octave keyboard with scrolling notes. In perhaps a direct inspiration, the Rock Band 3 keyboard has the same two-octave width, including a touchpad expression board for activating overdrive.

If you fear the thought of having to hit all 25 keys with exact precision, don’t fret. Not only will Easy and Medium be limited to one octave, but you will also only have to hit certain areas on the board marked with the five familiar colors. This will get you accustomed to the spacing and the rather fast scrolling speed, even if you are an expert at sight-reading sheet music and other keyboard games.

Those who want a deeper challenge will want to ramp up to Hard and Expert difficulty to include the span of the board, and turn on the new Pro mode, which for piano requires you to hit all of the keys. Likewise, for the other instruments, Pro mode adds cymbal notation for drums and – this is the best part – actual chords and strings for guitar that you can learn on a compatible Fender Squire Stratocaster. Memorize the notes on Expert Pro difficulty, and you can actually plug the Stratocaster in an amp and play the actual song.

click to enlargeOf course, that’s not enough for the Harmonix team for a sequel. They have to add three-part harmonies, sorting options for the songlist, a karaoke mode for vocals, a persistent career mode that earns you experience no matter what mode you’re in, and drop-in and drop-out menus that allow players to quit and join in case someone wants to order a pizza. You can also save and share setlists, customize your character in much better detail, and play Road Night Challenges that are made specifically for one-night parties.

As a game for up to 7 players and with more than 1000 songs available, not counting the 83 songs already in the title (which includes "Bohemian Rhapsody"), Rock Band 3 seeks to be the new life of the party. Its tweaks and upgrades elevate the franchise for both casual and hardcore fans. Rock Band 3 is set to arrive on stage this holiday season.
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