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Video Game of the Week – Rock Band 3

Three years after the original Rock Band one-upped Guitar Hero by introducing the full band experience, Rock Band 3 takes it to yet another level, adding keyboards and offering a Pro mode that actually feels like you are playing an instrument.

As with previous editions of Rock Band, the basic gameplay consists of players using instruments (which act as controllers) to match scrolling notes as they appear on the screen. Hitting the correct notes in time to the music increases the player’s score and builds their performance meter, while missing notes will cause the meter to drop. Players have a choice of lead or bass guitar, a microphone for vocals, drums, and now the new keyboard peripheral.

If you have all the available controllers, up to seven different people can now play at one time (two on guitars, three on microphones, one on drums, and one keyboard player) creating a chaotic but hugely enjoyable experience. And with 83 songs to choose from, the game will never get old.

Quickplay mode is an easy way to get the hang of things, with new menus and sort lists guiding the way. Or you can choose one of the Road Challenges, which consist of a short tour playing a variety of different sets. Along the way, players take on a series of goals. Every achievement earns a reward, such as an additional wave of fans or some gear for your chosen character.

Where Rock Band 3 really starts to break new ground is with Pro mode. Here, you can use either the keyboard or the custom wireless Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar to feel what it’s like to play in an actual band. It may not be the same as playing a real instrument, but it’s not far off – and there are plenty of lessons built into the game to help you get up-to-speed.

As with previous editions of Rock Band, the one concern is cost. Putting together the full band experience from scratch will run to several hundred dollars. The good news for experienced players is that Rock Band 3 is compatible with all previous Rock Band peripherals, as well as most third-party instruments and microphone controllers.

Despite the cost, Rock Band 3 is the most complete – and most fun – musical game experience you can have.

Rock Band 3 is rated “T” for Teen (lyrics, suggestive themes) by the ESRB. Check out the ESRB video game ratings and content descriptors at ESRB.org

Publisher: Harmonix
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii
Genre: Music, rhythm games
RRP: $59.99 (software only); instrument bundles start at $129.99
Release Date: October 26, 2010
ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen

Comment by Christina S., posted 11/8/2010, 8:56 AM:

We just purchased this game this past weekend. It really is a lot of fun and the addition of keyboards is great. One thing to be aware of: (pertaining to the Wii version, at least) yes, you can import your RockBand 2 songs, but it will cost you 1,000 Wii points. I was a little surprised to find that out.
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