What, you may ask, can be done to further improve the music game genre? At the end of the day, there is only so much that you can do with a fake guitar, drum kit and microphone. And it has already been done, to great success. All that’s left is to continue adding new songs, which are perfectly happy being offered as DLC and do not really warrant a whole new retail release.
But nothing is perfect and everything can be improved upon, even if it is only in some small way. Rock Band 3 may not be the genre reboot that is needed, but it offers up a few changes that make it the best music game to date, along with a couple of really interesting additions that could well be enough to make people sit up and take notice.
First up, however, are the 83 new tracks included with the game. Based on the cost of DLC, this gives the game some value to start with. That is, or course, providing you like all of the songs included. They are a pretty random mix, with hopefully something for everyone, from Space Oddity by David Bowie to Heart of Glass by Blondie. I cannot honestly say that there are many songs included that would have been DLC purchases, but there are a few nice tunes that will be going into my set list.
Indeed, the setlists and song selection menus are one of the many places where things have been streamlined and improved upon. It may not be much, but making it easier to choose your songs and such is nice. There are numerous other ways that the game has been improved over the previous release, making for a much more accessible game, both for newcomers and the seasoned pros.
The career mode has also been improved upon. The player works from venue to venue, gathering fans as they go in order to unlock the next stage in their rise to stardom. At each venue, the player gets to play a set list. But there is now the option to choose random set list and the player can actually see which songs they will have to play, allowing them the opportunity to change the songs if there is nothing there to their liking.
There are also a huge number of goals in the game for each of the instruments. These goals can be worked towards in both career and quickplay, meaning that whatever the player is doing, they are progressing towards something.
Let’s face it though, the big news where this game is concerned revolves around the new instrument, the keyboard. Yes, I know, another damn peripheral to go out and buy. But it has been a while since something this substantial has been added to the genre, and what a great addition it is. The keyboard adds a whole new area to the game, along with an instrument for one more player, and offers a completely different challenge for those previously mentioned seasoned pros to get their mits on.
But along with the new instrument comes a new mode, Pro Mode. Offered for guitar, keyboard and drums, this mode should please all of the rockers out there that find the basic game far too easy. It takes the difficulty to a whole new level, bridging the gap between playing a music game and actually learning to use the instrument in question. But this mode does come at a price, especially for the guitar pro mode, which will require the purchase of a pro mode guitar peripheral. This pro mode guitar comes with six strings and a staggering 102 finger positions on the touch-sensitive neck. Some may argue that you might as well learn to play guitar for real if you are going to all of this trouble, especially as the pro mode guitar costs around Â£120. But if you are serious about your gaming it should be a worthwhile investment. Pro mode for keyboard will require use of all of the keyboard keys, rather than the five used in basic gameplay, and the drum kit will have an extra three cymbals, just to make life more difficult. Pro mode is a nice addition to the game, but really will only be of interest to those who have already mastered the other music games out there.
Considering the music genre has really hit a wall when it comes to progression, Harmonix have still found a way to squeeze a little bit of extra juice from the music game. The new instrument and the pro mode certainly add to the appeal. But the simple matter that everything is far more streamlined and enjoyable ensures that Rock Band 3 is by far the best music game to date.