Friday, 19 November 2010

Rock Band 3 review.

Rock band 3 is now released. Well, it's been out for a couple of weeks now actually, but i've needed that much time to really see what the game has to offer, AND i've also been waiting for the pro guitar to arrive so I can tell you all about it. Still no sign of the guitars in the U.K, so i'm going to forge ahead and review the third game in Harmonix series anyway.

The plot:

Well....there isn't one. You basically start off in a band, and you travel from venue to venue, playing gigs, building up your fan base and being blown by groupies. Well, that last bit was a bit of a fib, but i'd imagine that it happens. Funnily enough in non of the bands i've ever played with.

What I liked:

Pretty much everything. Harmonix, who of course started out work on the original Guitar Hero and it's sequel before jumping ship and making the Rock Band series, have essentially polished up this game to the nth degree, and it shows. There isn't a single aspect of the game that hasn't been tweaked to perfection. There are 83 tracks on the disc, some forgettable, and some absolute classics on there. The disc based tracks aren't really the be all and end all, as you can transfer content from all of the other Rock Band games into this one (for a small fee, of course). Include this with any DLC you already own and your tracklist should be swelling. There are a wealth of song filters in the game, so finding tracks is never an issue, it even recommends DLC tracks down to your own personal tastes.

You can go in and just have a quick play, start a career mode, play different challenges, almost any game type you want is on there. The road challenges are great. You get to drive from gig to gig, building up fans and unlocking outfits by completing certain challenges. Some setlists will have you keep up as many streak multiplyers as you can. Others have a spotlight challenge, so when the spotlight comes on you only by sucessfully completing a streak will you net the points, and then the spotlight shines on another member of your band, who has to do the same. There is, you will be glad to hear, several variations in these challenges. There are even certain achievement challenges too, such as play 5 songs from bands that feature Dave Grohl........awesome! All in all there are over 700 different goals for you to complete.

The new pro mode is the big one. As before you can play Rock Band as you know and love it, strumming up and down and using the 5 buttons. Now there is the added Pro-mode, which for all intents and purposes has you training up to play real instruments. I've only been able to get my hands on the pro keyboard and drums (curse you EA for your weak-ass non-existant supply of Mustang guitars) and these additions are amazing. There are a wealth of training options which get you used to playing on these modes, which believe me you should dive in on first. Pro drums has the three additional cymbals, so you will using these as well as the four drum pads as normal. It's slightly confusing at first, but after a few hours of training you'll be banging away like Keith Moon falling fown the stairs if you're anything like me. Keys are slightly harder. The actual keyboard is a gorgeous piece of kit, a 2-octave half sized keyboard. The challenge comes from having to look constantly at the screen, so you can't really see what your fingers are doing. You'll be cursing it at first, and then after a while, when it clicks and you're tinkling away to John Lennon's "Imagine" you'll get that butterfly feeling swell up in your stomach and it's one of the greatest things in gaming.

Add to all of this a revamped graphics mode, customisation options for your band, being able to chart a bands career through the Rock Band website, and all in all it's a package you can't help to be pleased with.

What I loathed:

Not a great deal. I'm STILL not a big fan of the hammer on/off situation. I hate the way that the game dictates to you where and when you do it. The one good this Guitar Hero has on this are the hammer ons/ can do them anywhere in GH. You could say that the track list is slightly weak, maybe the weakest in the series, and if you don't have any of the downloaded content you may only find yourself getting into a few of the songs. Harmonix still haven't given any details on reverse engineering older songs with keyboards or pro modes (as of writing some of the songs like the recent Bon Jovi DLC do have the options to upgrade to pro modes, but at a cost of around 160 ms points PER SONG!!!). And my one big gripe, something i'm actually going to contact Harmonix about, is the crowd. On the older games when you were playing well and giving a belting performance, the crowd would start to sing along with you, giving it that big arena feel. It's now gone, and I want the bloody thing back........NOW! And once again, if you're not in the States you get shafted over the equipment. They seem to have supplied ample keyboards, drums and 5-button guitars, but not a sausage about any concrete release date on the pro model one. No shop i've visited seems to have a clue either. Seeing as how the pro mode is essentially the big selling point for the game, not to have the pro guitars available is a bit shite really.

The verdict?

Rock Band 3, as the original game did before it, redefines the music game genre. Everything it's ever done has been polished, inproved and thought over with the love that only developers like Harmonix do. With the addition of pro mode, which finally gets you on your way to learning and being able to play a real instrument, it blurs the line between game and musicianship. If you're a fan, get hold of the game and do so right now. It's the game that's made Guitar Hero redundant.

Rating: 9/10

(Xbox 360 version reviewed).

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