Review – Rock Band 3
Publisher: MTV Games/ Electronic Arts
Platform(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii
ESRB Content Descriptors: Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
*While the game is available for the Nintendo Wii this review is based on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions. Some differences may apply with the Nintendo Wii version and some features may be missing.
The Scoop: This makes Harmonix’s third foray into the world of Rock Band. Fifth if we consider The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day Rock Band. This time around we are introduced to new elements such as a new instrument, the keyboard, a new Pro Mode, and a revamped career system.
The Setup: Ummm…Rock Band has a story? I guess “you” decide to make a band! Then your do stuff…ya know bandy…stuff. Traveling the subway lines, roads, states, countries, and continents to make a name for yourself. ~~~~SPOILER ALERT!~~~~ You become a jet-setting rock god in the eyes of your 8 gajillion fans.
What’s Hot: Before you get too excited the Pro Mode reviews will have to come at a later date as the Keyboard, Pro Drums, and Guitar are not in my possession. I shall very soon be purchasing the smexy Ion Drum Rocker, however and the Keytar soon after. Right, now that I’ve shot down most peoples reasons for upgrading to Rock Band 3 let me elaborate on the many awesome non-Pro Mode reasons that you should consider the upgrade for anyway. First and foremost, my favorite new addition has got to be the drop-in drop-out menu system. At the bottom of the screen you’ll see four different join rectangles for your four designated peoples. With these menus you can sign in and out, switch characters, go to options, and flip back and forth between one instrument to another without the tedious, “Ok, hold on…you sign out first. Ok, now I’ll sign in on the drums.” nonsense. Now with the click of a button you and your buddy can switch it up very easily.
Rock Band 3 is chock full of these “minor” enhancements that majorly impact the greater good of gameplay. Another favorite of mine is the ability to skip songs in a set list. If you and your buddies decide to make a setlist that is 1,928 songs long (which is possible!) Then you hit a snag in your mojo and just can’t beat a song! Now you can skip it and move onto the next 1,927 without having to start over again. Setlists also now possess the ability to save and share them with friends. Picking the songs out that you want to use is made vastly easier with the new filtering system for song searching. With over 2000 songs it can be rather tedious finding everything you want to add. These are just a few of the tweaks that Harmonix added in to this new version that really streamline everything and give it a nice polish.
The second biggest change is the new career mode. Gone are the days of traveling the world consisting of such a limited amount of cities. In this day and age a band is not judged by its travels, but by its accomplishments. Like “Complete 50 Drum Rolls!” It acts almost like an experience system with your fans. The more challenges you complete the more fans you gain, getting you closer to the next stage in your life long ambition of opening for Sting. Some of them are very easy, like calibrating your game. Others are ridiculous, like hitting every note in every song on the Rock Band 3 setlist!
Which leads me to the last and awesomesauciest(TM) of tidbits (it’s a word…I just made it up! See the little TM* on the end of it…Mine!). The setlist! This game has one of the most diverse and interesting soundtracks ever. There is Classic rock to new wave. Pop to whatever the hell you would call The Flaming Lips. All tracks are well thought out additions to the already bursting library. I mean it has Bohemian Rhapsody AND Freebird! C’mon!
What’s Not: Sadly, no game is without flaws; as is the case with Rock Band 3. My only major gripe with this iteration is the redesigned career mode is a little hard to catch on to if you don’t know what you’re looking for. My wife and I just ended up playing songs that we were picking thinking we were completing some challenge. We were, it was just a play-so-many-songs-of-a-certain-type kind of challenge. Once we figured out how to do Road Challenges and get back into what we were more accustomed to it really started to flow better. This could have been avoided very easy though with a more prominent way of directing people the right way.
The other smaller issues are all about the presentation. The cartoonish sort of look is a tried and true method. It helps to emulate rock stardom and makes it easier to connect with players. It needs a fresh coat of paint though. It’s slightly changed in RB3, but for the worse in my opinion. Something that still plagues the look is the body structuring. Facial customization has seen a major boost, but not the bod. There is no reason my character’s shoulders should stay MASSIVE no matter what weight I am. My wife’s female guitarist should be able to have a heavier body without looking like a tube.
The clothes are absurd. Yes, clothes have wrinkles. Yes, they bend and contort around when we move. No, they shouldn’t be affixed in that position. It looks as though someone soaked the shirts in starch, folded them at odd angles and then ironed it to seal the deal. ON LEATHER COATS EVEN! Some shirts even give my character the appearance of manboobies. This is similar to RB2, but it’s amplified here and does not come out the other side in a good fashion.
Ok, seriously, last thing. Where is my Stairway to Heaven? Bribe, steal or beg your way to get this song Harmonix! For then you shall rule the world!
Final Verdict: While lacking visually in some areas, the core of what a music game is stands strong in Rock Band 3. A clean and beautiful mix of various artists, genres, and iconic songs fill this latest installment. It bodes well for the series to see it in such a polished form while still seeing new things introduced. The addition of the keyboard and harmonizing can get you up to seven people rocking out at once; making this the ultimate party game.
*Totally fake, he does not actually own this word, but really wishes he did. 🙁Review - Rock Band 3,