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Rock Band 3

Rock Band 3

Rock Band 3

Rock Band 3 is a 2010 music video game developed by Harmonix. The game was initially published and distributed by MTV Games and Electronic Arts, respectively, in late October 2010. Mad Catz took over both roles and re-released the title on November 23, 2011. It is the third main game in the Rock Band series. As with the previous titles, Rock Band 3 allows players to simulate the playing of rock music and many other subgenres using special instrument controllers mimicking lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. Rock Band 3 expands upon previous games by including three-part vocal harmonies—previously used in The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band—and support for a keyboard instrument, a MIDI-compatible 25-key unit.

Rock Band 3 features a new "Pro" mode, which is designed as a learning tool to accurately mimic playing of real instruments. In Pro mode, real guitar and bass players have to match specific fingering on frets and strings, drummers have to strike cymbal pads in addition to snare and toms, and keyboardists have to use precise fingering across the whole keyboard. MadCatz manufactured a 102-button controller and Fender built a real, stringed guitar with built-in electronics and enhancements to support Pro mode.

The game includes a list of 83 songs, many selected to emphasize the keyboard instrument. Existing game content, including prior downloadable content and songs from the Rock Band Network, carry forward into the game, with the full Rock Band library reaching 2,000 songs at the time of game launch . Rock Band 3 is designed to take advantage of players' existing libraries by providing user-created set lists and challenges and tools to easily search and select songs from the library.

Rock Band 3 was initially released worldwide during the last week of October 2010 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Nintendo DS. The game received universal acclaim from critics, with praise for the addition of keyboards that broadens the potential music library for the series and the revamped career structure to keep players invested in the title. The game's Pro mode was particularly highlighted by reviewers, who stated that the mode brings the rhythm game genre closer to teaching players to learn real instruments, though at a large cost of entry.

Rock Band 3 Gameplay

Rock Band 3 allows for 1–7 players, either locally or through online game services, to use various instrument controllers to simulate the playing of music. In addition to the four instruments from previous Rock Band games—lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocals—Rock Band 3 adds support for two additional singers who can provide backup vocal harmonies (previously found in The Beatles: Rock Band and Green Day: Rock Band) and it adds an electric keyboard as a new instrument.

Prior to a song, each band member selects from one of four difficulty levels, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert, which influence the number and rate that notes appear on the note track; they also can select the Pro mode for guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums. As the band performs, they score points. Each player can build up a multiplier by hitting consecutive notes correctly, which increases how many points each note is worth, but the multiplier is set back to 1× if a note is missed. After successfully completing a song, the performance of each player and the band as a whole is rated on a 5-star scale. The best performance by a player for each song in the player's library is tracked separately based on instrument, Pro mode, and difficulty, and is used to provide and compare leaderboard statistics.

The overall goal of the band is to successfully complete a song and earn as many points as possible by using their controllers to play the notes shown on the screen at the proper time; or, in the case of the vocalists, to sing in relative pitch to the original artist. Players can also gain additional points by using "Overdrive". Once a player has enough energy, which is collected by perfectly playing marked sections of the song, he or she can activate Overdrive to double the number of points the whole band earns while it is deployed. Each instrument deploys overdrive differently, and some instruments have multiple methods of activating it.

Unless the "no-fail" option is on, players who are doing poorly might drop out of the band, silencing their part. A dropped player can be saved up to two times by another player activating Overdrive; if the player is not saved soon enough, the whole band may fail the song and need to restart or exit to the song library. In some game modes, an option is also available to continue the song right from where the band failed at the cost of not being able to record a score for the rest of the song's playthrough.

Although Rock Band 3's gameplay in Basic mode is very similar to that of previous games in the series, it does introduce a new gameplay mechanic designed to make fast sections such as trills, tremolo picking, and drum rolls easier to play. In such sections, players are rewarded for being exactly on cue, but they are not penalized for small differences.

Rock Band 3 has received universal praise from gaming journalists who considered the game to be a major jump from Rock Band 2 and a pinnacle of the rhythm game genre. Matt Miller of Game Informer called the title "a culmination of Harmonix’s efforts to bring music to the masses". Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica commented that for Rock Band 3, "This is the new state of the art for rhythm games, and it's hard to find fault with what's being offered." Joystiq's Griffen McElroy asserted that Rock Band 3 "is the greatest rhythm game ever made, and quite possibly the only rhythm game you need to own". Reviews praised the incorporation of realistic instruments and the education of how to play them into the video game setting, seeing the title as a means of preparing players to pick up real instruments. Chad Sapieha of The Globe and Mail said that with the release of Rock Band 3 "we are just a hair’s breadth away from moving beyond make believe" while the New York Times's Seth Schiesel stated that "Harmonix has brilliantly torn down the wall between music games and real music".

Reviews praised the introduction of keyboard and the new controller. Miller described the keyboard peripheral as "small and light" with a number of options for how one can play it, with Johnny Minkley of Eurogamer adding that the keytar approach makes the keyboard peripheral "gaming's next must-have shame-maker". Many reviews noted that while there are some enjoyable and difficult non-Pro versions of the keyboard charts, playing in this mode was not much different from the established "five button" guitar method, and that the real enjoyment from the peripheral was through Pro mode. IGN's Hilary Goldstein noted that the keyboard addition allows Harmonix to expand the types of songs that one would previously have never expected to appear in a Rock Band game, such as Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" or any Elton John song. Sam Machkovech for The Atlantic expressed similar sentiments, adding that with the ability to include more keyboard or synthesizer-heavy songs into the game, "the songs are just plain better".

The new Pro mode was critically acclaimed as the primary feature that distinguished Rock Band 3 from other music games in the field. Minkley stated that the inclusions of Pro features "at once dramatically expand the potential of the game and fundamentally change the approach required to play and enjoy it". Reviewers appreciated the training modes, including their integration into the overall game's career progression and the breadth of material that is covered. Nina Shen Rastogi of Slate commented that Rock Band 3's training modes helps to overcome the discouraging early period of trying to learn guitar as "the gaming elements will mask the rote, homeworklike nature of the guitar training process". Kuchera noted that the modes were aimed at those who have some understanding of music theory already; "If this is your first introduction to music theory, though, you may need a little more explanation", he concluded. This lament was similarly stated by Machkovech, who felt the lessons had "text that was written by a musical savant" that would be too confusing to those without musical backgrounds and too simple for those trained in music arts. Chris Kohler of Wired described the experience he and a friend had where after playing though Devo's "Whip It" on Pro guitar and keyboard, they were able retain enough muscle memory to play their respective parts on real instruments, albeit not perfectly; Kohler summarized his experience that "Just playing Rock Band 3 taught us a little bit of actual music".

A primary consideration for the game was the cost of entry to enjoy the new features of the game particularly in Pro mode; both the cost of the new keyboard and Pro guitars (ranging from $80 to 280) and the time investment to learn these aspects was considered high and may only cater to niche players. The Metro noted that if one does not purchase any of the additional hardware controllers, "it's not much different to Rock Band 2". Goldstein commented that the amount of investment into the game will affect one's perception of the game's value: "either something completely new and challenging or just more tracks to rock out to". Goldstein further noted that with the cost and time spent on the Pro guitar models, "why not spend a little more and buy the real thing". Several reviewers commented that the buttoned Mustang Pro guitar is not as sturdy as other instruments and does not have the same tactile feel as a real guitar. Specifically, the reviewers noted that the width of the button impressions do not vary in width as real guitar strings would, and there is no tactile feedback as one would have with a fretboard. These reviewers suggested that players, if dedicated to the Pro guitar mode, to wait for the stringed Fender Squier which had more favorable reviews.

The game's soundtrack was considered to be "the most unusual and varied in the franchise" by Miller, and "an eclectic collection that's a little more pop than metal" by Goldstein. Kuchera considered the set list to be one of the best in any music game, "spanning decades and genres and bringing a wide variety of songs to suit any taste".

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