TECH

Video Game Review: Rock Band 3

written by Lee Clifford

Rock Band is the ultimate party game; there, I said it.

A game that took the rhythm formula of Guitar Hero and perfected it while bringing other instruments into the mix has had a very successful run in the current gaming market; though often snubbed by the hardcore gaming community (likely because there’s no gore, guns or creepy erotic fan fiction) and sects of self-proclaimed music purists, it’s impossible to argue the success that this franchise has experienced since its inception. Nothing is more fun than having a few drinks with a bunch of friends and taking turns butchering your favourite songs in different ways.

With Rock Band 2’s release almost two years ago, and millions of suggestions in that time on how to improve the game, Harmonix knew that their public was ready for more and they’ve delivered. Yes there have been Rock Band iterations for The Beatles and Green Day, but this is the true sequel that the music gaming community has been craving.

Gameplay
Rock Band 3 has shuffled things up greatly compared to the titles that came before it. A top reason for this game having some people thumb their noses at it has been the usual reason we’ve heard a million time: “oh well I play a real guitar so this game is below me”, that was their mindset and that was that, yes hitting plastic buttons isn’t the same as playing a real guitar, but by that knowledge then you should actually experience pain when you get shot in war games and feel whiplash when you crash in racing games.

So to shut up the pretentious hipsters who poo-poo at Rock Band, Harmonix has upped the ante and has made Rock Band 3 compatible with real guitars and bass guitars; yes if you buy the stand-alone game then you’ll need to find your own 1/4 inch to USB adapter but that’s not that tough. The point is: now a real guitar can be implemented into Rock Band and the game adjusts accordingly, it’s a doozy of a learning curve but it feels awesome to nail that crazy solo on a real guitar for the first time.

Another new addition is the long overdue feature of keyboards. Keyed instruments have been a cornerstone of rock music for decades and I always found it sad that they were overlooked in previous titles. A great part about the keyboard controller is that it is a keyboard, in past games where the only real musical talent required was to sing or play drums, now there’s an addition that relied on piano skills, but at the same time works as a great tool to learn the instrument!

The drums have also received a huge upgrade. Gone are the four pads that you smack in accordance to a colour, now actual cymbal pads have been added, no longer making the toms double as crash and high hat, it looks and feels like playing a real drumset now, and it is sweet.

Graphics
One of the largest complaints about Rock Band 2 was that it was the same graphics as the original. Rock Band 3 has made up for this by rehashing the graphics engine and it looks terrific. Where your band members looked cartoony before, now the player can make fairly realistic looking band mates; add this to the newly overhauled motion engine that has even the characters’ movements looking real and it becomes a truly immersive rock concert experience.

Sound
It’s a music game featuring a crapload of new music, as well as calling in the tunes off your old titles, so the sound speaks for itself; though the newly added Dolby Digital option and the bass booster can make pumping out the beats that much more enjoyable.

The sound quality within the game also lends itself a touch of reality. When your band is starting out in dingy clubs and bars, the acoustics range from awful to dead, this isn’t a feature that detracts from the songs, but it gives that bit of authenticity. Later when you’re playing large stadiums and acoustically treated venues, the sound reverberates beautifully and gives that huge, rock festival feel.

The music itself can vary depending on your taste, since Harmonix has been faithfully adding downloadable music to their games since the first week Rock Band came out. The player honestly has a seemingly limitless library at their fingertips, but the music that comes packaged in the game isn’t to be overlooked. I used to get frustrated in Rock Band 2 that the “more challenging” songs were just random metal songs with inconsistent notes scrambled about in a mess that was impossible to play, due to this I missed out on a lot of the later game because it wasn’t something that required any kind of rhythm skills, it was just hit all the buttons and once and hope for the best. Rock Band 3 has remedied that by making the challenging songs legitimately difficult, for all the right reasons.

Speaking of Rock Band 3’s library, it is quite a mix that’s a lot of fun to play. Canadian indie acts Metric and Tegan and Sara make appearances, while mainstream acts like The All American Rejects also grace the title; and with the addition of the keyboard controller, now piano-based rock tunes are stepping up to the forefront. The variety is great.

What I like
Just about everything, the graphics look great and I have control over the set lists my band comes up with, leaving it always an enjoyable experience musically. A big plus to the game now are the built-in music lessons, learning guitar, bass, drums and piano is now at the fingertips of any gamer who seriously wants to learn, it’s a very cool addition and it’s bound to silence many of the nay-sayers.

Another marvelous feature is an after-pause rewind. We’ve all been there, we’re halfway through a song then the phone rings. We hit pause, answer the phone, end the conversation, unpause then ARGH! you’ve screwed up the song coming back in! Now when you unpause the game, the song rewinds a few seconds to let you get back into your groove before the next salvo of notes come.

What I Would Change
I wish I had more control over the positions of my band members. Since the first Rock Band I’ve had my friends that I’ve made my bands with, and when remaking them in the game’s very powerful character creator, I wasn’t able to apply specific roles to them. I know this is trivial, but when one friend has been the drummer for 4 years, another player has been the bassist, the singer etc and then you add a new friend as keyboard player, it would just give that more concrete feel where now it’s kind of a mixed bag who will be taking what role; it’s a very trivial thing, but I like consistency… mainly because any band I was ever in where we all rotated around sucked huge.

Final Thoughts
Rock Band 3 is a very worthy addition to the Rock Band franchise. The new addition of a keyboard and the option to play with a real guitar makes this an even more immersive music experience, but the option to leave it the old way won’t cast out the loyal players of the franchise. The ultimate party game is still going strong, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go learn that solo to Highway Star.

written by Lee Clifford

Rock Band is the ultimate party game; there, I said it.

A game that took the rhythm formula of Guitar Hero and perfected it while bringing other instruments into the mix has had a very successful run in the current gaming market; though often snubbed by the hardcore gaming community (likely because there’s no gore, guns or creepy erotic fan fiction) and sects of self-proclaimed music purists, it’s impossible to argue the success that this franchise has experienced since its inception. Nothing is more fun than having a few drinks with a bunch of friends and taking turns butchering your favourite songs in different ways.

With Rock Band 2’s release almost two years ago, and millions of suggestions in that time on how to improve the game, Harmonix knew that their public was ready for more and they’ve delivered. Yes there have been Rock Band iterations for The Beatles and Green Day, but this is the true sequel that the music gaming community has been craving.

Gameplay
Rock Band 3 has shuffled things up greatly compared to the titles that came before it. A top reason for this game having some people thumb their noses at it has been the usual reason we’ve heard a million time: “oh well I play a real guitar so this game is below me”, that was their mindset and that was that, yes hitting plastic buttons isn’t the same as playing a real guitar, but by that knowledge then you should actually experience pain when you get shot in war games and feel whiplash when you crash in racing games.

So to shut up the pretentious hipsters who poo-poo at Rock Band, Harmonix has upped the ante and has made Rock Band 3 compatible with real guitars and bass guitars; yes if you buy the stand-alone game then you’ll need to find your own 1/4 inch to USB adapter but that’s not that tough. The point is: now a real guitar can be implemented into Rock Band and the game adjusts accordingly, it’s a doozy of a learning curve but it feels awesome to nail that crazy solo on a real guitar for the first time.

Another new addition is the long overdue feature of keyboards. Keyed instruments have been a cornerstone of rock music for decades and I always found it sad that they were overlooked in previous titles. A great part about the keyboard controller is that it is a keyboard, in past games where the only real musical talent required was to sing or play drums, now there’s an addition that relied on piano skills, but at the same time works as a great tool to learn the instrument!

The drums have also received a huge upgrade. Gone are the four pads that you smack in accordance to a colour, now actual cymbal pads have been added, no longer making the toms double as crash and high hat, it looks and feels like playing a real drumset now, and it is sweet.

Graphics
One of the largest complaints about Rock Band 2 was that it was the same graphics as the original. Rock Band 3 has made up for this by rehashing the graphics engine and it looks terrific. Where your band members looked cartoony before, now the player can make fairly realistic looking band mates; add this to the newly overhauled motion engine that has even the characters’ movements looking real and it becomes a truly immersive rock concert experience.

Sound
It’s a music game featuring a crapload of new music, as well as calling in the tunes off your old titles, so the sound speaks for itself; though the newly added Dolby Digital option and the bass booster can make pumping out the beats that much more enjoyable.

The sound quality within the game also lends itself a touch of reality. When your band is starting out in dingy clubs and bars, the acoustics range from awful to dead, this isn’t a feature that detracts from the songs, but it gives that bit of authenticity. Later when you’re playing large stadiums and acoustically treated venues, the sound reverberates beautifully and gives that huge, rock festival feel.

The music itself can vary depending on your taste, since Harmonix has been faithfully adding downloadable music to their games since the first week Rock Band came out. The player honestly has a seemingly limitless library at their fingertips, but the music that comes packaged in the game isn’t to be overlooked. I used to get frustrated in Rock Band 2 that the “more challenging” songs were just random metal songs with inconsistent notes scrambled about in a mess that was impossible to play, due to this I missed out on a lot of the later game because it wasn’t something that required any kind of rhythm skills, it was just hit all the buttons and once and hope for the best. Rock Band 3 has remedied that by making the challenging songs legitimately difficult, for all the right reasons.

Speaking of Rock Band 3’s library, it is quite a mix that’s a lot of fun to play. Canadian indie acts Metric and Tegan and Sara make appearances, while mainstream acts like The All American Rejects also grace the title; and with the addition of the keyboard controller, now piano-based rock tunes are stepping up to the forefront. The variety is great.

What I like
Just about everything, the graphics look great and I have control over the set lists my band comes up with, leaving it always an enjoyable experience musically. A big plus to the game now are the built-in music lessons, learning guitar, bass, drums and piano is now at the fingertips of any gamer who seriously wants to learn, it’s a very cool addition and it’s bound to silence many of the nay-sayers.

Another marvelous feature is an after-pause rewind. We’ve all been there, we’re halfway through a song then the phone rings. We hit pause, answer the phone, end the conversation, unpause then ARGH! you’ve screwed up the song coming back in! Now when you unpause the game, the song rewinds a few seconds to let you get back into your groove before the next salvo of notes come.

What I Would Change
I wish I had more control over the positions of my band members. Since the first Rock Band I’ve had my friends that I’ve made my bands with, and when remaking them in the game’s very powerful character creator, I wasn’t able to apply specific roles to them. I know this is trivial, but when one friend has been the drummer for 4 years, another player has been the bassist, the singer etc and then you add a new friend as keyboard player, it would just give that more concrete feel where now it’s kind of a mixed bag who will be taking what role; it’s a very trivial thing, but I like consistency… mainly because any band I was ever in where we all rotated around sucked huge.

Final Thoughts
Rock Band 3 is a very worthy addition to the Rock Band franchise. The new addition of a keyboard and the option to play with a real guitar makes this an even more immersive music experience, but the option to leave it the old way won’t cast out the loyal players of the franchise. The ultimate party game is still going strong, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go learn that solo to Highway Star.

written by Lee Clifford

Rock Band is the ultimate party game; there, I said it.

A game that took the rhythm formula of Guitar Hero and perfected it while bringing other instruments into the mix has had a very successful run in the current gaming market; though often snubbed by the hardcore gaming community (likely because there’s no gore, guns or creepy erotic fan fiction) and sects of self-proclaimed music purists, it’s impossible to argue the success that this franchise has experienced since its inception. Nothing is more fun than having a few drinks with a bunch of friends and taking turns butchering your favourite songs in different ways.

With Rock Band 2’s release almost two years ago, and millions of suggestions in that time on how to improve the game, Harmonix knew that their public was ready for more and they’ve delivered. Yes there have been Rock Band iterations for The Beatles and Green Day, but this is the true sequel that the music gaming community has been craving.

Gameplay
Rock Band 3 has shuffled things up greatly compared to the titles that came before it. A top reason for this game having some people thumb their noses at it has been the usual reason we’ve heard a million time: “oh well I play a real guitar so this game is below me”, that was their mindset and that was that, yes hitting plastic buttons isn’t the same as playing a real guitar, but by that knowledge then you should actually experience pain when you get shot in war games and feel whiplash when you crash in racing games.

So to shut up the pretentious hipsters who poo-poo at Rock Band, Harmonix has upped the ante and has made Rock Band 3 compatible with real guitars and bass guitars; yes if you buy the stand-alone game then you’ll need to find your own 1/4 inch to USB adapter but that’s not that tough. The point is: now a real guitar can be implemented into Rock Band and the game adjusts accordingly, it’s a doozy of a learning curve but it feels awesome to nail that crazy solo on a real guitar for the first time.

Another new addition is the long overdue feature of keyboards. Keyed instruments have been a cornerstone of rock music for decades and I always found it sad that they were overlooked in previous titles. A great part about the keyboard controller is that it is a keyboard, in past games where the only real musical talent required was to sing or play drums, now there’s an addition that relied on piano skills, but at the same time works as a great tool to learn the instrument!

The drums have also received a huge upgrade. Gone are the four pads that you smack in accordance to a colour, now actual cymbal pads have been added, no longer making the toms double as crash and high hat, it looks and feels like playing a real drumset now, and it is sweet.

Graphics
One of the largest complaints about Rock Band 2 was that it was the same graphics as the original. Rock Band 3 has made up for this by rehashing the graphics engine and it looks terrific. Where your band members looked cartoony before, now the player can make fairly realistic looking band mates; add this to the newly overhauled motion engine that has even the characters’ movements looking real and it becomes a truly immersive rock concert experience.

Sound
It’s a music game featuring a crapload of new music, as well as calling in the tunes off your old titles, so the sound speaks for itself; though the newly added Dolby Digital option and the bass booster can make pumping out the beats that much more enjoyable.

The sound quality within the game also lends itself a touch of reality. When your band is starting out in dingy clubs and bars, the acoustics range from awful to dead, this isn’t a feature that detracts from the songs, but it gives that bit of authenticity. Later when you’re playing large stadiums and acoustically treated venues, the sound reverberates beautifully and gives that huge, rock festival feel.

The music itself can vary depending on your taste, since Harmonix has been faithfully adding downloadable music to their games since the first week Rock Band came out. The player honestly has a seemingly limitless library at their fingertips, but the music that comes packaged in the game isn’t to be overlooked. I used to get frustrated in Rock Band 2 that the “more challenging” songs were just random metal songs with inconsistent notes scrambled about in a mess that was impossible to play, due to this I missed out on a lot of the later game because it wasn’t something that required any kind of rhythm skills, it was just hit all the buttons and once and hope for the best. Rock Band 3 has remedied that by making the challenging songs legitimately difficult, for all the right reasons.

Speaking of Rock Band 3’s library, it is quite a mix that’s a lot of fun to play. Canadian indie acts Metric and Tegan and Sara make appearances, while mainstream acts like The All American Rejects also grace the title; and with the addition of the keyboard controller, now piano-based rock tunes are stepping up to the forefront. The variety is great.

What I like
Just about everything, the graphics look great and I have control over the set lists my band comes up with, leaving it always an enjoyable experience musically. A big plus to the game now are the built-in music lessons, learning guitar, bass, drums and piano is now at the fingertips of any gamer who seriously wants to learn, it’s a very cool addition and it’s bound to silence many of the nay-sayers.

Another marvelous feature is an after-pause rewind. We’ve all been there, we’re halfway through a song then the phone rings. We hit pause, answer the phone, end the conversation, unpause then ARGH! you’ve screwed up the song coming back in! Now when you unpause the game, the song rewinds a few seconds to let you get back into your groove before the next salvo of notes come.

What I Would Change
I wish I had more control over the positions of my band members. Since the first Rock Band I’ve had my friends that I’ve made my bands with, and when remaking them in the game’s very powerful character creator, I wasn’t able to apply specific roles to them. I know this is trivial, but when one friend has been the drummer for 4 years, another player has been the bassist, the singer etc and then you add a new friend as keyboard player, it would just give that more concrete feel where now it’s kind of a mixed bag who will be taking what role; it’s a very trivial thing, but I like consistency… mainly because any band I was ever in where we all rotated around sucked huge.

Final Thoughts
Rock Band 3 is a very worthy addition to the Rock Band franchise. The new addition of a keyboard and the option to play with a real guitar makes this an even more immersive music experience, but the option to leave it the old way won’t cast out the loyal players of the franchise. The ultimate party game is still going strong, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go learn that solo to Highway Star.

written by Lee Clifford

Rock Band is the ultimate party game; there, I said it.

A game that took the rhythm formula of Guitar Hero and perfected it while bringing other instruments into the mix has had a very successful run in the current gaming market; though often snubbed by the hardcore gaming community (likely because there’s no gore, guns or creepy erotic fan fiction) and sects of self-proclaimed music purists, it’s impossible to argue the success that this franchise has experienced since its inception. Nothing is more fun than having a few drinks with a bunch of friends and taking turns butchering your favourite songs in different ways.

With Rock Band 2’s release almost two years ago, and millions of suggestions in that time on how to improve the game, Harmonix knew that their public was ready for more and they’ve delivered. Yes there have been Rock Band iterations for The Beatles and Green Day, but this is the true sequel that the music gaming community has been craving.

Gameplay
Rock Band 3 has shuffled things up greatly compared to the titles that came before it. A top reason for this game having some people thumb their noses at it has been the usual reason we’ve heard a million time: “oh well I play a real guitar so this game is below me”, that was their mindset and that was that, yes hitting plastic buttons isn’t the same as playing a real guitar, but by that knowledge then you should actually experience pain when you get shot in war games and feel whiplash when you crash in racing games.

So to shut up the pretentious hipsters who poo-poo at Rock Band, Harmonix has upped the ante and has made Rock Band 3 compatible with real guitars and bass guitars; yes if you buy the stand-alone game then you’ll need to find your own 1/4 inch to USB adapter but that’s not that tough. The point is: now a real guitar can be implemented into Rock Band and the game adjusts accordingly, it’s a doozy of a learning curve but it feels awesome to nail that crazy solo on a real guitar for the first time.

Another new addition is the long overdue feature of keyboards. Keyed instruments have been a cornerstone of rock music for decades and I always found it sad that they were overlooked in previous titles. A great part about the keyboard controller is that it is a keyboard, in past games where the only real musical talent required was to sing or play drums, now there’s an addition that relied on piano skills, but at the same time works as a great tool to learn the instrument!

The drums have also received a huge upgrade. Gone are the four pads that you smack in accordance to a colour, now actual cymbal pads have been added, no longer making the toms double as crash and high hat, it looks and feels like playing a real drumset now, and it is sweet.

Graphics
One of the largest complaints about Rock Band 2 was that it was the same graphics as the original. Rock Band 3 has made up for this by rehashing the graphics engine and it looks terrific. Where your band members looked cartoony before, now the player can make fairly realistic looking band mates; add this to the newly overhauled motion engine that has even the characters’ movements looking real and it becomes a truly immersive rock concert experience.

Sound
It’s a music game featuring a crapload of new music, as well as calling in the tunes off your old titles, so the sound speaks for itself; though the newly added Dolby Digital option and the bass booster can make pumping out the beats that much more enjoyable.

The sound quality within the game also lends itself a touch of reality. When your band is starting out in dingy clubs and bars, the acoustics range from awful to dead, this isn’t a feature that detracts from the songs, but it gives that bit of authenticity. Later when you’re playing large stadiums and acoustically treated venues, the sound reverberates beautifully and gives that huge, rock festival feel.

The music itself can vary depending on your taste, since Harmonix has been faithfully adding downloadable music to their games since the first week Rock Band came out. The player honestly has a seemingly limitless library at their fingertips, but the music that comes packaged in the game isn’t to be overlooked. I used to get frustrated in Rock Band 2 that the “more challenging” songs were just random metal songs with inconsistent notes scrambled about in a mess that was impossible to play, due to this I missed out on a lot of the later game because it wasn’t something that required any kind of rhythm skills, it was just hit all the buttons and once and hope for the best. Rock Band 3 has remedied that by making the challenging songs legitimately difficult, for all the right reasons.

Speaking of Rock Band 3’s library, it is quite a mix that’s a lot of fun to play. Canadian indie acts Metric and Tegan and Sara make appearances, while mainstream acts like The All American Rejects also grace the title; and with the addition of the keyboard controller, now piano-based rock tunes are stepping up to the forefront. The variety is great.

What I like
Just about everything, the graphics look great and I have control over the set lists my band comes up with, leaving it always an enjoyable experience musically. A big plus to the game now are the built-in music lessons, learning guitar, bass, drums and piano is now at the fingertips of any gamer who seriously wants to learn, it’s a very cool addition and it’s bound to silence many of the nay-sayers.

Another marvelous feature is an after-pause rewind. We’ve all been there, we’re halfway through a song then the phone rings. We hit pause, answer the phone, end the conversation, unpause then ARGH! you’ve screwed up the song coming back in! Now when you unpause the game, the song rewinds a few seconds to let you get back into your groove before the next salvo of notes come.

What I Would Change
I wish I had more control over the positions of my band members. Since the first Rock Band I’ve had my friends that I’ve made my bands with, and when remaking them in the game’s very powerful character creator, I wasn’t able to apply specific roles to them. I know this is trivial, but when one friend has been the drummer for 4 years, another player has been the bassist, the singer etc and then you add a new friend as keyboard player, it would just give that more concrete feel where now it’s kind of a mixed bag who will be taking what role; it’s a very trivial thing, but I like consistency… mainly because any band I was ever in where we all rotated around sucked huge.

Final Thoughts
Rock Band 3 is a very worthy addition to the Rock Band franchise. The new addition of a keyboard and the option to play with a real guitar makes this an even more immersive music experience, but the option to leave it the old way won’t cast out the loyal players of the franchise. The ultimate party game is still going strong, now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go learn that solo to Highway Star.

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