The Rock Band titles from Harmonix/MTV have proved popular among video gamers and casual gamers of all ages. Some gamers who are also musicians have lamented the simplicity of playing music in the Rock Band games. But Rock Band 3, scheduled for an October 26, 2010, release for the XBox 360, PS3, Wii, and DS, presents several new features that will increase the realism for those who want it, while still being an enjoyable game for those who just like to play.
Rock Band 3 introduces Pro Mode, which is an alternate track for players who want to use new instrument options. Pro Mode is hailed as a way for gamers to learn to play real instruments. Rock Band 3 bundles include a 102 button guitar/bass, a three-cymbal attachment for the drum kit, and a new instrument to the game, a 25-key keyboard. The Pro Mode for guitar and bass allows players to play each and every note in the song as though they were playing a real guitar, rather than playing only a modified version that could be keyed to five buttons. The cymbal attachment gives drummers a more realistic drum kit set up. And the keyboard track in Pro Mode also follows the notes in the song, adding more keys at higher levels of difficulty in Pro Mode. The game can be played with the older instruments, but Pro Mode requires the use of these new peripherals.
For vocals, there does not appear to be a Pro Mode, but Rock Band 3 brings vocal harmonies (as seen in Beatles Rock Band) to this new game. So with three vocalists and the new keyboard, you can potentially include 7 people as players in this game. However, if you have people playing all four of the instruments, the vocalists will not get to choose their difficulty, nor will they receive a score for their performance. As someone who sings most of the time when I play Rock Band, I was disappointed to not find out how well I did on a new song when I played this game with four other people at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle a couple of weeks ago.
The keyboard seems to range from very simple to very difficult. We watched people play the keyboard on Pro Mode and struggle, but when my boyfriend played the regular Easy mode, he found that it wasn’t challenging at all-glancing down at his fingers on the keyboard was even easier than glancing at a hand on the guitar.
Rock Band 3 also adds 83 new songs to the Rock Band universe, and the game will allow you to import songs from Rock Band 1, Rock Band 2, LEGO Rock Band, and any downloadable content you have purchased. The keyboard and harmonies will only be available on Rock Band 3 songs and new downloadable content added after the release of Rock Band 3.
Overall, the addition of Pro Mode, a new instrument, and vocal harmonies mean that those players who have been looking for something new for their Rock Band gaming experience will have several options. Long-term fans of the game as it has been will also enjoy the new music and the possibility of including more people in their Rock Band.