Rock Band 3 E3 2010 Impressions

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Yeah, I know. There are a ton of music games out there now. I’ve been heard to say before that I’m done with purchasing band games. So, while I was interested to get a look at Rock Band 3, I wasn’t going in as someone who was expecting to make it a purchase.

The demo took place in Harmonix’s E3 booth, which was constructed to look like a small theater. After a short video showing off some PR from previous Rock Band titles, the curtains opened to reveal seven Harmonix employees playing “Power of Love” by Huey Lewis.

The first obvious change from previous Rock Band titles is that there were seven players. The addition of 2 extra vocal tracks in harmony (first introduced in Beatles: Rock Band), as well as the oft-discussed keyboard bring the total up to seven.

But new instruments and more vocals aren’t the only changes you can expect.

While the core gameplay remains essentially the same, there are a lot of changes and additions to the tried and true formula. First off, you can expect drop-in, drop-out gameplay from anywhere in the game. This means that you won’t have to back out to the band selection menu to have a player leave in the midst of your world tour.

Harmonix stated they they fully expect to have over 2,000 songs available through game track lists and DLC by the time Rock Band 3 goes live. In an effort to make this massive list manageable for players, they’ve built in a brand new song filtering system. You’ll be able to filter songs by difficulty, included instruments, source, song length, and more.

There are two more major additions to song management. First, you can now rate songs from 1 to 5 lighters. Songs that have lower ratings will show up less often in random set lists, and higher rated songs will show up more. Secondly, you’ll be able to create and save your own set lists. For example, if your Friday night Rock Band group loves playing all the metal tracks, just make a new Metal set list and save it. You can then select it and start it whenever you want to play that list of songs.

Now, about that keyboard… The 26-key MIDI keyboard will allow players to play in a traditional 5-note runway, or in the new Pro mode. Pro mode has you basically mirroring the notes you would play on an actual keyboard to play the song, including all the black keys as well. You’ll also be required to shift up and down the keyboard as instructed by arrows on the runway.

Guitar also gets a Pro mode, and it looks to be the biggest challenge I’ve ever seen in a music game. You’ll need one of the two new guitars to try it out, and you’ll find yourself playing chords, notes and solos just like you would on a real guitar. Part of this is because one of the new controllers IS a real guitar, a fact Harmonix was showing off in their demo. A Harmonix employee was playing Expert Pro Guitar, and at the same time playing through an amp to show how the game mirrors the guitar’s action.

If you’re a drummer, don’t worry. There’s a new Pro mode for you too. Three cymbals are being added to the drum kit, and they’ll allow you to play almost as you would on a real kit, with cymbals having new symbols on the runway. They won’t just double as drumpads anymore.

While only 22 songs have been revealed thus far, I’ve already seen enough to make me change my tune. Rock Band 3 has now gone from a game I really wasn’t interested in to near the top of my most anticipated games for the rest of this year.

There’s plenty of additional info on the game here on Gaming Today. Check out these articles for all the info you need:

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