Rock Band 3 ReviewAustin Godfrey
There's a New Stop On the Rock Band Tour, But Is This One a Game-Changer?
At one point in time the music/rhythm genre of gaming was a fancy way of grouping a handful of games in with the Dance Dance Revolution series. Guitar Hero and it's plastic toy controller turned the genre on it's head and gave it new life. Years after Harmonix created Guitar Hero they one-upped their own formula and created a whole rock band experience in a game aptly named Rock Band. Since then the genre has been flooded with games like Rock Band: Green Day and Guitar Hero: Metallica, but little has been done change the fundamental gameplay. Instead these latest games try to cash in on an exclusive set list to boost profits. Even the content of Rock Band 2 wasn't much of a far cry from them original. The genre seemed kind of stagnant again, but can Rock Band 3 change that.
Rock Band 3 has a plethora of small tweaks that streamline the experience. Career mode is now comprised of various goals similar to the Xbox Live achievement system or the PSN trophy system. These goals are tied to a players profile, so even just playing around with a group of friends counts toward a player's career if they are signed in. For those looking for the more standard tour progression, Rock Band 3 has various Road Challenges each containing different setlists. Road Challenges have a set of side goals where the player receives extra stars (in this case called spades) for playing certain sections flawlessly or activating overdrive a certain amount. Every song played in Road Challenges and Quickplay go towards a progressive fan count that unlocks the next leg of the tour. Multiplayer received quite the makeover as well, players can now enter menus without disturbing everyone else, instruments can drop in, drop out, even switch seamlessly; everything's setup to keep the fun rolling.
The new hardware this time around is the wireless keyboard and mustang pro guitar. While the new guitar isn't the easiest piece of hardware to acquire, the keyboard comes bundled with the game. The keyboard feels comfortable and provides a fun and challenging new experience for fans. All of the instruments get a pro mode upgrade in the game. For pro guitar/bass the players needs to strum individual frets, pro keys has the player playing the right-hand part of songs, and pro drums actually divides the drums and cymbals into separate notes on the screen. This gameplay is fun and interesting, however, Rock Band 3's lackluster setlist doesn't include enough songs to fully enjoy pro mode or the keyboard, and new songs for those instruments are slow to arrive in the marketplace. Also, playing all for instruments at once kicks the vocalist into karaoke mode, basically meaning that the 1 to 3 signers are stuck playing easy, can't fail, and don't get a score at the end.
Overall, Rock Band is better than ever. All of the core gameplay of the first two is left intact and the new features only make the game better. Despite a few short comings with the 'Pro' experience it's amazing to rock out on one-step-closer-to real instruments, and the tutorial modes for these instruments provide enough of a solo experience on their own. Just like Rock Band 2 the libraries of the 2 games before it roll over, so a dedicated fan will have quite the collection right out of the box. Rock Band 3 makes the ultimate party game experience even greater, and allows up to 7 people to have fun and live out their rock 'n' roll fantasy.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.