Rock Band 3

WADE MANNS – The Corsair

By Harmonix, MTV Games and EA

Genre: Music

Players: 1-7 (full band includes three vocalists, a guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboardist; also playable online!)

Rating: Teen for Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol

The rock is back! Rock Band 3 promises to change the face of music games for a good long time. For the first time, you now have a keyboard, as well as access to a challenging (to say the least) difficulty level: Pro Mode. This, in varying levels of difficulty, uses the entire 25-key, two-octave keyboard, or a special stringed guitar controller, to allow you to faithfully reproduce your favorite hits.

A hefty purchase at $70, the keyboard is nonetheless worth it. However, a much more expensive purchase, but worth it for the hardcore player, is the Fender Mustang guitar controller (for $150), for using Pro Guitar mode. This replaces the strum bar found in previous guitar models with actual strings, and ramps the fret buttons up to 102 (6 buttons each for 17 frets)! There’s also the Squier Stratocaster guitar coming in March of next year, which is as close to a real guitar as can be, with strings all the way down, and frets instead of buttons.

The setlist for this game is filled with hits both extremely familiar to me and quite foreign. Epic but exhausting riffs like Lynyrd Skynyrds’ nine-minute “Free Bird,” fun hits like The B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” iconic rock anthems like Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water,” and many others are available to rock out to. In addition, all downloaded songs and most from the first two Rock Bands (a handful of songs, no more than five, couldn’t be in this game) are also available. A one-time 800-Microsoft point ($10) purchase is required to re-download and import the Rock Band 2 songs.

So if you’ve been following this series, or Guitar Hero, and you’re excited by what this genre has to offer, I’d say check it out! I give it five out of five stars, but with a caveat; my somewhat lowered coordination makes me pretty abysmal at guitar and drums on this game, and it turns out, not too well on keyboard either. So take that as you will, but I surely enjoy singing.