Want to see the whiniest place on the internet? Drop by the Rock Band forums this week to witness the shrill cry of outraged fans discovering their favorite gameâ€™s become an entirely new beast. Comfort zones have been shattered. The familiarâ€™s been bulldozed. Cash no longer exists, everythingâ€™s restructured and (shock) playing a real keyboard is haaaaaarrrrrrrrrd.
Iâ€™m siding with the optimistic voters: Rock Band 3 is incredible. Itâ€™s as fun-and-breezy or as back-breakingly demanding as you want it to be. Want to keep it a pure video game and play in the original five-button style? Click here. Want to take some classes and learn to play â€œRoundaboutâ€ on keyboard for real? Head this way.
Hereâ€™s a quick test to see if youâ€™ll like the game as much as I do: Are you the kind of person who will spend two hours with the improved character creator, a half hour conjuring the perfect band name, and another hour creating your bandâ€™s logo? Welcome to my world. Go buy it now.
RB2â€™s role-playing-style Tour Mode has been completely reworked (much to the dismay of some fans), with less emphasis on reality and more on surprise challenges and random bonus conditions. Itâ€™s actually more game-like than ever, and a lot of fun. Your created band now takes over the entire game, cavorting through the menus and load screens. Everything you doâ€”from practice to quick play to calibrating your system, earns points. Things unlock constantly.
Little has been said online about the specifics of the Wii version. Hereâ€™s what you need to know:
Once again, as with RB2, The Beatles, and Green Day, Harmonix has treated Wii well. The game has 99% of the features of its PS3 and 360 counterparts, including the full character creator. It plays perfectly.
It looks fine. RB2 looked muddy, but solid. RB3 looks sharp but a bit glitchy. If that trade-off was necessary to get the new character creator in there, I donâ€™t mind at all.
Importing the RB2 set list is ingeniously simple: If thereâ€™s an RB2 save file on your Wii, the tracks become available in the online store ($10 for 70 of RB2â€™s songs).
The keyboard is rock solid and works beautifully. Itâ€™s also surprisingly heavy. The keys are full-size piano keys, and they feel just right.
Okay, now we come to RB3â€™s true wild card: Pro mode. No five-color frets and strum bar here: This mode requires the new guitar peripherals or the keyboard. You have to play the real notes and chords.
First off, I just want to say that Rock Band didnâ€™t need to do this to justify its existence. Rock Band 2 was fun. As a video game, thatâ€™s all it needed to be. Rock Band 3 is also fun, with or without Pro Mode. Harmonix, however, wants to give Rock Band deeper options, and I call this a pretty cool experiment. I hope itâ€™s a huge success.
As for my experience with Pro Keyboardâ€¦as someone who hasnâ€™t played piano since my middle school-era lessonsâ€¦
Help. I suck! Even at the tutorials! Iâ€™m having fun, though, and Iâ€™m going to keep trying. I really want to see if RB3 can teach me to play. Iâ€™ve set a goal: If, by Christmas, I can sit down at a real piano and play â€œImagineâ€ and â€œWerewolves of London,â€ Iâ€™ll be a fan of Pro Mode for life.
Some are calling this the greatest rhythm game of all time. So far, Iâ€™d say itâ€™s looking that way. Itâ€™s certainly the most ambitious.
Anyone else here trying out RB3? Iâ€™d love to get your feedback.