Gaming

Rock Band 3 Instruments Review

As we said before, Rock Band 3 is ambitious because it’s not just a game where you push buttons to music, it’s a game that gives you real(ish) instruments and makes you develop actual, usable musical skills.

This combines the addictiveness of a video game with the actual learning of boring guitar, keyboard and drum trainers. Plus, since it’s Rock Band, you’re going to get lots of polish and lots of future songs to learn your chosen instrument on.

Keyboards! It’s only two octaves, so you don’t get a true keyboarding experience, but, dammit, it’s keys. And if you use the included straps, you can play it like a keytar. Harmonix does not want you calling this thing a keytar, but if it has two octaves, straps around your shoulders and quacks like a duck…

Buying the $US80 keyboard peripheral is the cheapest way to get into this, but if you’ve already got a MIDI keyboard, they tell me that there’s a way to get drums and keyboards on with this MIDI adaptor for $US30. That won’t be available until late November, though.

Pro guitar, on the other hand, is really really really really really real. When the fancier guitar comes out in 2011, you’ll actually be able to plug that into an amp and play back the song you just played in the game, but for now, this $US150 Wireless Fender Guitar will have to do.

It’s the perfect in-between from a five-button Rock Band guitar controller and a real guitar. As Harmonix’s own video says, this is more for the type of person who wants to develop some guitar skills, but doesn’t want quite to build up calluses or finger strength just yet. Later on, perhaps, but not now.

Then you have the $US40 cymbal add-on pack, which brings one more level of realism to your drumming. Cymbals have been supported in previous games, but it’s integrated tighter now.

This version of Rock Band is going to be one of my most-played games ever, because it’s more than just a game – it’s a learning tool. Give a man a game where he can entertain his friends at parties, and he’ll play for a few weeks. Give a man a game where he can learn something usable in the real world and he’ll play for years.

The keyboards were a bit disappointing when compared to the extensiveness of the pro guitar mode. Your keyboard is only two octaves, and even on the hardest mode, usually isn’t very challenging.

Despite the real-ness of the gameplay, the Mad Catz controllers still feel a bit plasticky. It would be nice, although more expensive, to get more realistic instruments, but future adaptors will let you use more of your equipment with the platform.

After getting bored with the entire music game phenomenon last year, Rock Band 3 is just the thing to bring me back. Like I keep saying, it’s more than just a game, and despite what the musical purists who insist on people learn to play instruments the traditional way (read: the way they did it), you can actually learn things here while playing. So what if you don’t actually get the intricacies of how to play a guitar? If you learn how to play Bowie and have fun doing it, then that’s money worth spending.