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Rock Band 3 Review (Xbox 360)

Game Review: Rock Band 3
Release: October 26, 2010
Genre: Music
Developer: Harmonix
Available Platforms: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii, DS
Players: 1-7
MSRP: $59.99 ($129.99 for Wireless Keyboard Bundle)
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol)
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A brief note about this review before we get started; I don’t cover the “pro mode” in my review as I do not have a “pro mode” guitar. I plan on getting the Fender Squire Pro Guitar Controller when it comes out next year, but that doesn’t help me right now. I also do not have any details about the Keyboards either as I don’t own the Keyboard. What I do review is the core game and how it is for the thousands of people who just plan on picking up only the game. Now, on to the review!

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Rock Band 3 is the third official installment to the Rock Band franchise. It gives people a taste of the fun and enjoyment you get with starting up your own “rock band”, without all the hassle. You start your band off as garage band nobodies and take them to the top as world class arena rockers. Along the way, you get to rock out to some of the industries best music out there, whether it be with guitar, bass, drums, vocals, or the all new keyboards.

If you have played Rock Band before, then you know what to expect as the foundation of the game is the same. For those of you new to rocking out, let me explain. Colored “notes” scroll down an on-screen fretboard. If you are playing guitar, then you hold down the corresponding colored fret button on the controller, then strum the strum bar when the note passes through the target at the bottom of the screen. The same principle applies to bass, drums and keyboards. Doing so will cause you to create beautiful music and earn you fans which is what you want. Without fans, you will never make it out of the garage.

Even though the foundation remains the same, the appearance and features have been given an overhaul to keep the game fresh. The career mode has changed drastically. It is now called “Road Challenge”. In this new mode, you start off touring small. You travel to a city and get the option to choose from one of three available gigs. After you complete your gig and get your Spades (explained in a bit), you travel to the next city to do another gig. This continues on until all of the cities on your Road Challenge are complete.

There’s a lot of variety in the gigs. You can have some that are already made set-lists, while others can be “random” or “choose your own” set-lists. One cool thing about this feature is the more Rock Band you have, the more options you get for song selection. Rock Band, Rock Band 2, Lego Rock Band, AC/DC Live, Rock Band Green Day, plus all the dlc songs can be used in Rock Band 3. So if you already have a lot invested into Rock Band, you are going to get a lot more out of playing Rock Band 3.

Another new aspect of career mode is the addition of Spades. For every song you play in the Road Challenge mode, you can earn up to ten Spades. Half of these are earned from your star rating and the other half are from completing bonuses. Every gig offers you a bonus that you can complete to gain these extra Spades. They can range from chaining your star power for as long as possible to hitting a section of the song flawlessly. The total amount of Spades earned from the gigs determine whether you get a bronze, silver or gold for each Road Challenge. The better you do, the more fans you will get and the more stuff you unlock to customize your character with (no more earning money to buy stuff from the store).

I Love Rock Band 3! I’ve played bass in a real band for the past 10 years and this is a great game to get into. Harmonix does an excellent job with their games and Rock Band 3 is no exception. They have improved upon some things that I like. For one, there is no more fan loss if you fail, quit, or retry a song. Another good thing is if you have to pause the game, it will replay the last few seconds of the song to ease you back into it once you unpause. This is a great feature, especially for me. The phone almost always seems to ring when I play or somebody comes to the door. Now I don’t have to worry about messing up my multiplier when I start back up. The other big change that I liked was being able to gain fans just from playing songs in Quickplay. I barely touched Quickplay in previous Rock Bands just because I wasn’t earning any fans and/or money from it. It’s nice to see that Harmonix has finally made some corrections to the formula.

On the downside, there are still some issues that haven’t been addressed that I feel should. One of my biggest gripes is that I can’t get less than a 3 star song rating. Why can’t I suck and get a 1 or 2 star rating? I can hold my own pretty good with Expert Guitar, but some of the flashier metal songs leave me in the dust. I would love to be able to play Hanger 18 on Expert and complete the whole song even if I sucked. I know I could go to Quickplay and put on “no fail”, but it’s not quite the same. Harmonix has addressed this a bit (if you fail you can choose to continue but won’t get any stars or spades), but it’s still not where it should be. One other complaint I would have with this game is that because it has been given a face lift, it is very disorienting to figure out what the heck you are doing. This is just a small complaint, but it is a lot more in depth than Rock Band 2, so there’s a lot more that you need to learn about. It sort of reminded me of playing a new rpg. It’s confusing at first, but you do eventually figure it out.

Brian’s Final Say: Rock Band 3 is the best game in the series. It will give you hundreds of hours of entertainment whether it be by yourself, with your friends, or online. If you even remotely have a rock star hidden deep down inside of you, then you owe it to yourself to pick this game up. You will not regret it. The only other thing that could top Rock Band 3 is if Harmonix would score a deal to make Rock Band: Led Zeppelin. Now that would be a must buy!

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