Rock Band 3 screenshot
Rock Band 3 screenshot

Even forgetting the spangly new instruments, though, Rock Band 3 is still the most comprehensive update of the rhythm band shtick since the original. The novelty might have well and truly worn off years ago, but the few remaining aficionados will find themselves with a well-crafted platform to access the 83 new songs on the disc alongside the (ever-expanding) 2000+ DLC tracks and imported Rock Band 1 and 2 catalogues. Or even those Green Day tracks, if that's your bag.

'But Martin', you might ask, 'what is actually on the disc?' There's a return (it had to happen eventually) of Skynyrd's Free Bird, for a start, alongside Queen's karaoke blinder Bohemian Rhapsody and Elton John's ivory-tickler Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting). For the grumpier amongst us, Slipknot make an appearance with Before I Forget, Anthrax chip in with Caught in a Mosh and, if you're anything like me, you might decide to round that off with J. Geils Band's Centerfold. And then play Everybody Wants to Rule the World five times in a row. There's a bit of an overall skew towards older, synth-heavy tracks to accommodate the keyboard but it's alright - there's still plenty of variety for everyone.

Tangible in-game refinements strike you as soon as you hit the menu screen. The front-end has been beautifully streamlined into a stylish background vignette of your band with a simplistic suite of options laid on top - "Play Now" or "Career", basically - and additional, individual menus for each of the four potential profiles signed into the console. Rock Band 1 and 2's fussy profile management has been effectively done away with, and now setting up each player and their associated instrument is a doddle.

The typical and oft-repeated 'World Tour' format has also been pared back into something more simplistic, and now your group goes from garage band to stadium filler in the background while you play whatever you want. Each track performed in any mode earns you fans, and the game pauses to dish out amusing cutscenes whenever you hit major milestones. In short, Quickplay now has the spotlight and Career runs behind the scenes.

Harmonix should be commended for successfully tweaking the format to accommodate how people actually play the game. If my living room habits are indicative of the general populous (though I imagine mine has a slightly higher-than-average Dorito consumption), then what people want is to bang out Don't Stop Believin' (DLC) and The Power of Love (on the disc) instead of battling through a prescribed and arbitrary setlist. It's an ingenious move, and a concurrent system of challenges ensures the bottom of the screen is always stacking up various accolades and accomplishments, unlocking new gear to play dress-up with the on-screen version of yourself.

Old-school style setlists are still around, however, tactfully reborn in the guise of Road Challenges. But even these are segmented into tiny chunks, allowing for both frequent breaks and to accommodate attention-strapped players who want to pop back to individual tracks every five minutes. Unless you're playing The Endless Setlist III, but I don't even want to think about that.

Where all this will take you, though, is almost entirely up to you. The unavoidable reality is that, for all Rock Band 3's considerable refinements and intuitive advancements, your current games and equipment will probably suffice if you're just after banging a few plastic keys to the odd tune every now and then. But if you've still got a passion for the genre, or you're seriously considering furthering your understanding of the instruments with Pro mode, Rock Band 3 might just be the most important rhythm game to date.

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Endless's Avatar

Endless

Not enough mention of how brilliant the Keytar hardware is imo. It is a real instrument. It even has a line out as well as the midi. and the construction, unlike the shoddy plastic guitars of old, is amazing. I could have easilly bought this in an actual music shop.

Excellent review, though 60 of the 83 have keys parts? really? It feels like less when you're looking for one to play through your back catalog lol. I also won't bother to migrate my rock band 2 songs until they consider adding the option to get keyboard parts for them.
Posted 22:32 on 02 November 2010
bencrosaby's Avatar

bencrosaby

Looked into this game but got put off by the party based and 'songs that I've played before' setlist, and that's not to mention the overwhelming cost. I'll stick with Guitar Hero now that Neversoft are gone (despite Warriors of Rock being brilliant) and Vicarious Visions are in.
Posted 19:56 on 02 November 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Yayyyyyy.
With DJ Hero 2 doing so poorly, I wonder how that will reflect on the sales of this?
I hope it does well, after reading the review it bloody deserves to.
Posted 15:51 on 02 November 2010

Game Stats

Rock Band 3
9
Out of 10
Rock Band 3
  • Pro mode is a very exciting addition
  • Huge array of music available
  • Best rhythm band title on the market
  • Impossibly high cost
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 29/10/2010
Platforms: Wii , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Music
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 2,842 42
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