I’m not the biggest fan of music video games. After my love obsession with Guitar Hero 2, I put my controller down for good to move on to more stimulating titles and genres. Even as an ex-rocker/enthusiast, however, I am eagerly awaiting the release of Rock Band 3
The reason for my anticipation is two-fold. The first exciting news we were privy to while awaiting the actual demonstration behind closed doors with Harmonix was that they’ve completely revamped the logistics of gameplay right from the menu screen.
Having command over the 83 in-game tracks, as well as any DLC and tracks you have saved up from previous Rock Band games, can be tricky. Fortunately, Harmonix has created a way to sort and sift through your music more intelligently. You can either select one of the various options available for sorting - i.e. track length, rating, etc. - or you can tag certain songs for dismissal altogether. You can make ready-made playlists for future Rock Band shindigs, too, so pouring over your setlist in scrutiny will no longer be a time consumer.
No longer will you have to worry about the overzealous teammate, either. While your friends bang and gong on their instruments, you can set the game up with your favorite tracks without distractions from their button mashing and inadvertently reverting back to the main menu.
The simple redesign of the menu and options are also a vast improvement from the bland design of previous titles. Your main screen will have your band members walking in slow motions, being video taped from all angles as they move. It seems that to ensure you get the sensation of a brand new title, Harmonix has pulled out all their tricks.
Moving on to the second - and in my opinion the most exciting - aspect the newest Rock Band in the series is the new instruments. I’m sure everyone has heard of the fifth instrument that has been added to the band equipment already available on the Rock Band franchise. They keyboard/keytar is awesome to say the least. Not only does it look tremendously fun to play, but it also lends its musical talents to certain songs that would feel lost without it (“Bohemian Rhapsody” was almost immediately mentioned). It functions as a MIDI device, as well, so you can hook it up to play music on the software of your choosing.
Perhaps more enticing is the slew of advancements made to keep rocking out more realistic than before, with the added benefit of learning how to play the actual instrument itself. Drums, for instance, have been suited for a less rowdy taste, making the actual strike of the drumstick less overpoweringly noisy and intrusive. Cymbals will now come included in the package, as well. The guitar is probably the most endearing, as it comes fully equipped with six individual strings as opposed to a thumb-bar as well as 17 frets, and can even plug into an amp to make a smooth transition into real rocking out. You can choose to equip Mad Catz’s Fender Mustang Pro-Guitar that is a simulated controller, or opt for the Rock Band 3 Squier from Fender Stratocaster that is both a real guitar and a controller.
Pro mode will exercise your skills and teach you the notes and chords you need to play the guitar in its fully glory. You can play Pro mode for the drums and keyboard peripheral, as well. Pro drums will involve coordinating with three cymbals, while the keys will test your pitch over a two octave range.
Another - and (for now) the final - addition to gameplay on this Rock Band iteration is the three-part vocals that let you play with up to seven people per round. Gone are the days you fight over who gets to play next (ok, the eighth person is probably upset). This is most optimal for me, as I love to sing but am always too shy to do so by my lonesome. With two other people to drown out any discernible differences of our voices, I’m all game.
Rock Band 3 will be available in all its pricey (given the new pro equipment) glory this holiday. Ahem, family and friends of mine, ahem.