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  • Rock Band 3, Everything & The Kitchen Sink?

    Posted on October 27th, 2010 Shawn No comments

    It’s Rock Band 3 launch day.  I have an unboxing video coming as soon as I can edit all the pieces together. For now, let’s talk about some first impressions.

    Keyboard Bundle

    • Price and Build – The keyboard bundle, at $129.99, isn’t cheap in more ways than one.  The price is steep. The keyboard feels heavy and very well built, especially the actual keys.  I’m truly impressed at the feel of the keys, plus the casing also is made of a strong plastic.  The Xbox buttons and d-pad feel a little flimsy and loose, not as solid as on an Xbox controller, but still not bad.
    • What’s in the Box – Along with the keyboard, you get just about everything you would want from an OBE, out of the box experience.  You get a strap for the keyboard, in case you want to hold it like a guitar. It also comes with 3 Energizer AA batteries.
    • The Game – Of course, a sealed copy of the Rock Band 3 game was also in the bundle. In the game box, there is a 50 page manual (though it’s only so thick thanks to the multiple language translations).

    Drums (very significant information for drummers)

    • Supports all Rock Band and Guitar Hero (GH) drums.
    • GH drums orange cymbal is now mapped to green cymbal, in non-Pro mode.  During fills, your green tom and orange cymbal will have different sounds.  This is awesome that Harmonix took the time to code the game for GH drums.
    • Electronic drum kits going through the GH drum MIDI connector work as expected, in non-Pro mode. If you have a cymbal mapped to orange, it will react just as mentioned above.
    • Any combination of Rock Band drums with cymbal add-ons work in Pro and non-Pro mode. If you have one, two, or three cymbals, you can configure the game to accept those cymbals and Pro mode will adapt appropriately.


    The Game

    Everything has been overhauled in the game. Don’t think about getting the linear tour experience of Rock Band 1, 2 or Guitar Hero games. Now, in my short time playing the game, there’s so much to get used to in this new experience. Some major bullets below.

    • Drop-in / Drop-out play – This is great where one person can start a song, and others can join in at their leisure, and anyone can drop out at their leisure.  This works locally, and online players can drop-out.  I haven’t seen drop-in yet online, so not sure if this exists.
    • Network Disconnection, Rocking Continues – If you are playing online and someone in your party (including you) gets disconnected, your session continues without failing out.  In fact, I was accidentally booted out of an XBox Live session today and the game reverted to a local single player only set without failing.  This feature is just incredible.
    • Cut scenes – There are cut scenes during the menus, before and after songs. Gone are the “Loading…” screens with band facts.  I miss the facts, but the cut scenes are truly beautiful and entertaining.  I’m not certain how many cut scenes there are, so not sure how soon I will get sick of them.
    • Road Challenges – These are fixed and customizable short sets somewhat like Rock Band 2 challenges. This makes for quick tours which is great online. No waiting in Quickplay screens for someone to scroll up and down the Impossible DLC list. Instead, you pick a Road Challenge and you play what you get.  There’s still a lot for me to learn in this mode, but I like what I see so far. (FYI, Quickplay still exists though.)
    • Vocal Harmonies – Just like Beatles and Green Day, harmonies are back. The important new note here is, even if you are playing a song without harmonies in-game, you can still connect up to 3 mics and sing along. I really like this party-type feature, which ultimately just retired my need to ever play Lips again.
    • Free DLC – Make sure you get right into the Music Store in-game for 3 free Doors tracks.  That will expire next week.
    • Minor Disconnection Issue – When a player disconnects from an online session, a message covers the screen for about 5 seconds completely covering the center players lane. You will not be able to see the chart during this time, but the game will continue to play. I hope this will be fixed in a patch.
    • Stage Kit sadness 🙁 – Here’s a sad story for me.  The Stage Kit add-on from Rock Band 1 and 2, which is a USB connected light and fog kit, doesn’t work with Rock Band 3.  Harmonix, please please add support for this back in.

    Overall, the new interface is vastly different and will take some getting used to.  People I played with online last night were a bit confused navigating around.  I’m chocking it up to being new and we will get used to it quickly.  The game is beautiful, and just about every gripe of the past two years has been addressed (excluding the Stage Kit support). There are plenty of other details, which I can report on.  Though, I’m focusing on the things that might be lesser known at this point. Much more coming soon.

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