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Adam Ghiggino
17 Nov, 2010

Rock Band 3 Review

PS3 Review | Pure pronage.
To many Aussies, it may seem like the Rock Band series has skipped an iteration. We didn't receive Rock Band until its sequel was released in the USA, and that sequel, Rock Band 2, has never seen a local release. Of course, we've had the band-exclusive titles like Green Day and The Beatles to tide us over, but now we're finally up to speed with the rest of the world as Rock Band 3 lands at our shores. Does it make huge improvements to the formula, or are Aussies still best looking to the online stores for their new song content?

The biggest addition to the series is one we unfortunately can't review. Rock Band 3 brings a new 'pro mode' to the table which is perhaps the most revolutionary aspect as it takes your interaction with the plastic instrument knock-offs to a whole other level. We do not have access to the new 'pro' controllers, nor the wireless keyboard peripheral that has been added to the game's repertoire of instruments, nor even the MIDI converter which allows you to plug in a MIDI-capable keyboard or guitar into the game and has not yet been released in Australia. These are all expensive additions, with the keyboard rocking in currently at AU $138, the wireless Pro Fender Mustang guitar at US $150, and the Squier Fender Stratocaster guitar at US $280, expected to be released in March next year. The question you may be asking is, why would you pay so much for these devices?

Essentially, the 'pro' mode opens up the possibility of learning how to actually play the songs in Rock Band. For reals. The wireless keyboard controller can be operated in much the same way as the guitar, with colour coded sections, or it can be used to accurately play the notes in the songs. The Pro Fender Mustang has over a hundred buttons which correspond to guitar frets and chords, although it seems to us that if you were going to go to that extreme to learn guitar you might as well go the whole hog and look at the Squier Stratocaster, an actual stringed instrument that you could properly learn guitar on. Reports from others seem to indicate that the pro mode is extremely difficult, but a useful tool for those wanting to learn guitar or keyboard. A cymbals pack for the drum kit is also available, to add some more realism and difficulty to the set.

About to be devoured by the Kraken.

About to be devoured by the Kraken.
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If you're coming into Rock Band 3 with a current instrument, or instruments, then we're more than happy to give you the lowdown on the software, as distinct from the new hardware that has been released. Rock Band 3 includes 83 songs, some of which have appeared before in other music titles, but all of which span decades from the birth of rock to present day. You've got everything from James Brown to Huey Lewis to Hypernova, and there's a great deal more variation than there has been in the past. So many classics have already been used in previous installments that it must have been a challenge finding more material, and while the new soundtrack is more pop-friendly, it certainly has a lot of its own classics. It's also geared more towards including the newer instrument, the keyboard, so we get songs such as 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen thrown in, too.

Structurally, Rock Band 3 is quite different to the previous two games. If you want to just play through the songs, then the quick play function hasn't changed and you're allowed to hop into any song with friends at the drop of a hat. However, you'll notice some additions to your usual track list with green highlighted 'recommended' songs. This is Rock Band 3's way of integrating the music store into the game much more, as you can now see awesome songs during regular gameplay which you could own, if you're willing to spend the extra dosh. It may be informative or annoying, depending on your point of view, but the fact is that there's a massive library of songs on the store and it's a method of drawing the player's attention to the content that's on offer.

Watch them rebel and refuse to tap on their myki.

Watch them rebel and refuse to tap on their myki.
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The Career mode has radically changed. Rather than a simple 'world tour mode', the career mode now has over 700 goals for players to work through, that are presented in much the same way as achievements or trophies. These can be anything from trying out different instruments and mastering them, to achieving perfect star ratings on all of the songs. There's a tonne to get stuck into here if you're the obsessive compulsive type who likes to beat everything, but everyone else may find it all a bit insurmountable. If you're after a more definitive progressive structure to your music game experience, then the 'road challenge' mode is the substitute for world tour. On the surface, it appears to be quite similar to that mode, with venues that are locally accessible by subway, then by road, then by air as your band gets bigger and bigger. You level up as you collect experience points and unlock venues, items and clothes, and overall it seems like the focus has really shifted to the music - as you're never locked into playing something you want to play, just challenging you to become as awesome as you can on what you do.

During these challenges, there are several locations you visit during a single burst, that can consist of two songs at each. These are usually pre-selected, but are sometimes randomly sorted. In addition to playing through the songs, you'll also have additional requirements to earn spades, which are used to calculate your final score. These requirements can be something like accurately playing notes, to using overdrive as many times as possible. They're a nice addition but there's only a few of them on offer, and they repeat much of the time making them begin to wear after a while. Maybe there's only so much you can do with a game that involves hitting notes in time to the music. However, even this can sometimes be a little hazardous as we are sorry to report there is infrequent (but noticeable) slowdown in some of the songs, popping up when some of the weirder effects are happening in the background (and especially in Echo & The Bunnymen's 'Killing Moon'). These spots are annoying and can interrupt your flow to ruin your combo, but hopefully they're patchable in the future. Also annoying is the message which informs you of goals awarded appears exactly where the note track is in the centre of the screen, which blocks your view of gameplay and is something which should have been caught and fixed much earlier.

Rockgasm.

Rockgasm.
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Other than the slowdown, Rock Band 3 has a very strong presentation with very well animated character models that have great expressiveness and lip-syncing. The effects on display during these music videos can also impress, with some song-exclusive effects such as 'Bohemian Rhapsody' striking a chord as totally awesome. Sound quality for the game is top notch, as you would expect.

The value of Rock Band 3 will most likely depend on how you view it yourself. If it's just a collection of new tracks, with a re-jigged career mode and deeper customisation, then go by our review score at the bottom of the page and enjoy the game for what it is. If you're planning on investing into the pro-side of the game, with the new instruments and learning a proper instrument, then the value may be far greater, and we unfortunately can't comment on how much greater that is. Regardless, Rock Band 3 is a great installment in the series, with a fantastic soundtrack and a couple of niggling flaws. But if you're an aspiring rock star ready to be tutored by a video game, then prepare to fork over some serious cash.
The Score
Rock Band 3 focuses more on the music, providing a fun and streamlined experience. However, taking full advantage of the game comes with a rather large pricetag, and it's up to you whether it's the worth the extra cash to upgrade from plastic to fantastic. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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78 Comments
3 years ago
As keen as I am to check out pro mode, I honestly can't justify the expense of a plastic strat when you can walk into any music store and pick up a Squier and a basic amp at a cheaper price.
3 years ago
Don't care too much for the "Pro" mode, or the new plastic instruments to be honest. What I am interested in is if by finally getting a new iteration of Rock Band, does that mean we finally get access to the Rock Band Network? There are a ton of songs on there from bands I love that I would pay top dollar to get.
3 years ago
Seems an odd review if it doesn't take the pro mode into account. A lot of the experience for many people will be based around this mode. At the very least, it's an area the developers have put a lot of work into so it's a huge oversight for the score. A bit like trying Modern Warefare and not the online mode.

Kim, early next year you will be able to get a real Feder Strat guitar for Rock band 3: one that works without the game, one that isn't plastic, and one that has a comparable price point to the real thing. It just has some kind of dongle that plugs into it to make the game recognise it.
3 years ago
Moonhead - yes Rock Band network is there. A couple of tasty Flight of the Conchord songs which as always fun to play.
3 years ago
I haven't noticed any slowdown at all on the 360 version.

Additionally, as far as price goes - import the Keyboard from the US. Amazon ship internationally. I paid about $105 AUD for it, couriered.
3 years ago
My quick browsing of Squier prices indicates that it'll be twice as expensive as a normal Squier. But I'll still be getting one.

I also need to ask, Mr Reviewer: did you play it with a group of people? The multiplayer interface is vastly streamlined and flexible.

Still, solid PALGN style score. Unless you're willing to pay for the revolution, it's only a strong evolution.
3 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
Moonhead - yes Rock Band network is there. A couple of tasty Flight of the Conchord songs which as always fun to play.
Wait, we have RBN for real now - not just the selected songs which are packaged up and released to PS3 and sometimes Wii? I was under the impression that it's tied to the XNA Creator Club, which we don't have here. If it's true that we do have the proper RBN now, that's just thrown my plans to get a PS3 completely out icon_sad.gif
3 years ago
GooberMan wrote
I also need to ask, Mr Reviewer: did you play it with a group of people? The multiplayer interface is vastly streamlined and flexible.
I agree. I didn't talk much about multiplayer as the experience itself hasn't changed much, just the way in which you interact with it through the goals/careers/challenges, etc. It's a streamlined game, but unless you're very rich, or very dedicated, I feel most people won't get the most out of it.
3 years ago
This review is strange and essentially pointless. The two new features of Rock Band 3 are the keyboard, and the Pro mode. Neither are elaborated on. In essence, this means that you're really reviewing Rock Band 2's features, with the exception of the revamped World Tour mode.

In other words, without having used the keyboard OR Pro mode there's not really any point in even having a review - those are the parts people want to know about, and are significant changes to the experience.
3 years ago
The experience of multiplayer is actually very different; at least that's what I have found and two of my friends who own it. These improvements were made across the entire workings of multiplayer and form the key changes to this over the last game. Skipping over them seems to miss the point about how most people play this game and what a lot of us wanted in this sequel.

Just to comment broadly on Adam's last statement above, why would anyone buy any game if they weren't going to get the most out of it? Ok fair enough not everyone will want the pro stuff, but you don't review a PC game and give it a lesser score because it requires a $3000 PC to run at its full potential, or you don't give Fallout a lower score because not everyone will want to be dedicated and finish all the side quests or buy all the DLC and may only choose to enjoy the main stuff.

A review shouldn't discount the potential of the game based on their personal thoughts about how "rich" or "dedicated" you have to be to play it. People buying the game already know these things. Sure, it's worth a mention, but it shouldn't be the basis of why you gave a particular score, especially if you haven't tested a good proportion of the game's potential.

Jedi - no actually we just get that streamlined RBN that you're talking about. sorry I misunderstood. I don't know if there are plans to make the Xbox version for the PS3, but I doubt it.
3 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
Jedi - no actually we just get that streamlined RBN that you're talking about. sorry I misunderstood. I don't know if there are plans to make the Xbox version for the PS3, but I doubt it.
As far as I know there aren't any plans to extend the full RBN to PS3 and Wii, because of how the online systems for each of them work. I'm curious about one thing, since we don't get the proper 360 RBN in Australia, does the streamlined RBN content get released to 360 as well as PS3 here?
3 years ago
no it doesn't that i know of
3 years ago
Sounds like 360 owners get pretty gypped here then icon_sad.gif although I guess you can always make a US/UK account and buy the songs that way.
3 years ago
I think Adams review takes more into consideration then most other reviews. If Palgn cannot provide a proper review on it based on the games price tag, than that is a strong indication of what to expect among the population too. I purely cannot afford to fork out the amount I almost would on a console to enjoy a single game the way it was intended. Besides Adam did state that the review didn't take the Pro mode/Multiplayer into consideration, so people will be judging that score based solely off the single player experience and would still consider it to be a solid attempt.

Besides, Game developers aren't supposed to make it this hard to enjoy the experience. This kind of game almost belongs in an Arcade.
3 years ago
IISpacebreakII wrote
I think Adams review takes more into consideration then most other reviews. If Palgn cannot provide a proper review on it based on the games price tag, than that is a strong indication of what to expect among the population too. I purely cannot afford to fork out the amount I almost would on a console to enjoy a single game the way it was intended. Besides Adam did state that the review didn't take the Pro mode/Multiplayer into consideration, so people will be judging that score based solely off the single player experience and would still consider it to be a solid attempt.

Besides, Game developers aren't supposed to make it this hard to enjoy the experience. This kind of game almost belongs in an Arcade.
Thank you Spacebreak II. Adam did the best he could considering that the life of a PALGN writer isn't about fast cars, bling bling $$ or babes...we don't make a profit, we are but modest and passionate writers who give the best coverage possible, given our extremely limited budget and that we don't have the same access to content as say..IGN or Gamespot.

Hell, I live on fish fingers and go on forums to ask for 48 hr XBL trials just to get a review done...
3 years ago
We are all free to our opinions, but a review that doesn't take into account the two major features of the game is not a particularly useful one in my opinion. And just because you can't afford or don't want the game has to offer, doesn't make the game bad. I don't want multipayer in Modern Warefare 2, or I can't afford broadband, doesn't mean it's worth a lower score.

J - that only further justifies why this review is rather pointless. A reviewer's income is not my concern. Can't afford the features that make it what it is? Well don't review it. I can't afford a personal jet either, but I can see its potential.
3 years ago
Well I think SpaceBreak II sums it up nicely as to why the review isn't 'pointless'. Basically, it's more relatable and relevant to consumers.
3 years ago
Unemployed consumers who don't use their games properly?
3 years ago
I think it's 'pointless' arguing with you, you're clearly missing the point SpaceBreak and I are trying to make.

Good day to you
3 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
Unemployed consumers who don't use their games properly?
Oh come on. Not everyone is going to purchase pro mode instruments. Personally I don't plan to. I've still got RB3 sitting on my coffee table waiting to be played.
3 years ago
I never once said they will. I merely said there is a potential to play in a new way that was not tested by the review.
3 years ago
So Jahanzeb, you would say it would be fair to give GT5 upon its release a lower score if the reviewer could not afford a decent wheel to play it with?

If the game is good and offers many different options you should give it the score it deserves. You can then put in your "opinion" on the overall cost in the notes afterwards... cost is not something to rate on.
3 years ago
All im saying is to stop giving Adam crap over this, did any of you even read the 2nd paragraph?

Quote
The biggest addition to the series is one we unfortunately can't review. Rock Band 3 brings a new 'pro mode' to the table which is perhaps the most revolutionary aspect as it takes your interaction with the plastic instrument knock-offs to a whole other level. We do not have access to the new 'pro' controllers, nor the wireless keyboard peripheral that has been added to the game's repertoire of instruments, nor even the MIDI converter which allows you to plug in a MIDI-capable keyboard or guitar into the game and has not yet been released in Australia. These are all expensive additions, with the keyboard rocking in currently at AU $138, the wireless Pro Fender Mustang guitar at US $150, and the Squier Fender Stratocaster guitar at US $280, expected to be released in March next year. The question you may be asking is, why would you pay so much for these devices?
3 years ago
JP2daMC wrote
Unemployed consumers who don't use their games properly?
Thats a petty comment to make, not everyone, even those people that have more than enough money are going to be willing to spend the amount EA are asking for people to enjoy this games "pro mode".

Adams review is pretty good as its one of the few that speaks about the single player, the track list, interface etc. while everyone else online is talking about pro mode and guitars/pianos. If I'm going to spend this much then I'll definitely read more than 1 review online, and Adams is imo more important than any other review I've read because it tells me that the actual game itself is still pretty decent.

Devonuto, JP2 this is different. This is a series along with Guitar Hero that established itself as an easy way to play without going over the top with instruments. Crysis has always been a high end series, its not alienating its own fanbase. Devonuto, I don't know any car game thats been reviewed where the reviewer takes a wheel into consideration. I can almost guarantee you GT5 will be majorly reviewed by people using a normal controller.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  21/10/2010 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Music
Year Made:
  2010
Players:
  4

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