Monday, December 6, 2010

The Rock Band 3 instruments have landed

Actually, they've been cluttering my living room for the past week, but I've only gotten around to blogging about them now. I ended up ordering this stuff from the old Amazon-Johnny Air connection. I haven't seen the new instruments in local stores, and since I was determined to be deep into the game by Christmas, I decided to take the jump. Time will tell if I've saved money or squandered it, but the fun of the past weekend is worth it if you ask me. I'm a massive Rock Band geek.


If you haven't heard about Rock Band 3 (where have you been?), it's a rhythm game like Guitar Hero. But where previous games made you feel like you were playing an instrument without actually playing an instrument, RB3 has Pro Mode, which gives you real instruments and lets you play the real notes. With the Squire strat guitar, you can actually output the audio to an amp as you play. It's perfect for frustrated musicians like myself, or anyone who wants to learn how to make music.

Before anything else, a word about the instruments. The keytar is surprisingly well-made. The 25 keys have a nice feel to them and are velocity sensitive. In fact, should you wish to connect the keytar to a MIDI controller or your laptop, you can. Yes, I've unwittingly bought another musical instrument. I'll be connecting this baby to Apple's Garage Band soon, but that's a project for another day…

The learning curve for keyboards is pretty steep. It starts you out with ridiculously simple keyboard presses, but Pro Keys is another matter entirely. My poor fingers are having trouble keeping up. So many keys!

The Pro Cymbals look like they can take a massive beating. And so far, they've survived one temper tantrum when poor calibration was making me fail songs. Playing with the cymbals isn't all that different from playing with the plain Rock Band drums, but it definitely feels much more authentic now. It has to be said that the aforementioned calibration has been causing me trouble. When 1/16th notes start showing up, the PS3 translates them as misses despite being on time with the music. Possibly, I'm a drum idiot with no rhythm, but Rock Band 2 felt more accurate. I'll be fiddling with the calibration more later.

The real reason why Rock Band 3 has me excited though is Pro Guitar, and the Squire Strat is still months away. As a guitar player, the plastic Fender Mustang controller just doesn't do it for me. I can't wait for March, when the RB3 Squire Strat comes out. I'm also praying for a cheap hack as I don't really want to buy another guitar. One classical Yamaha, one electric Ibanez, and one plastic Rock Band 2 Fender Strat means my house has far too many guitars already.

As for the game, it's been awesome so far. Pro mode really adds another dimension to the game. The keyboard-centric songs of RB3 are somewhat un-Rock-Band-like, but this is easily remedied by downloading (almost) all your RB2 songs for $9.99, or from additional Rock Band network downloads. Of course, if you're not into learning new instruments, you can always play it just like the old game but with new songs, and it's just as good.

All in all, it feels like Rock Band 3 is just getting started. Features like connecting to social networks are on the horizon, and the upcoming Squire Strat is a game-changer. Looks like I'll be playing this game for a long time coming.

Let the Rock Band parties begin!


spork said...

I want to be your neighbor.

struckbylightning said...

Where can I buy Rock Band for a reasonable price?