Once upon a time, Harmonix made a game in which I could plug in a microphone, sing along to my favorite songs, and get achievements for it. I fell in love instantly. I downloaded the entire possible playlist to my ipod and played it like crazy to learn the songs. My husband got interested in the guitar, and we spent probably far too much time going on world tours and earning fans. That game was Rock Band.
Then, Rock Band 2 came out. This version had the coveted No-Fail mode and we began to have Rock Band parties. People could take a try on the instruments knowing that it didn’t matter how many notes they hit. We got really into DLC and dropped, well, more money than I would like to talk about on bands like Journey, Bon Jovi, and Spinal Tap. Big Bottom FTW, baby!
So, this past Tuesday, the newest incarnation of Rock Band was released, to my excitement. I have been anticipating Rock Band 3 every since it was announced because as a piano player, the idea of finally getting a keyboard was so great. I was never good at either the guitar or drums, and I can only sing all night once in a while, that is, if I wanted to still have a voice. Also, I adore rock songs with piano, bells, flute, you know, fun things that could be played on a keyboard. (That’s Journey, Bruce, and Jethro Tull for those keeping score).
This weekend, I finally got the chance to test out the new Rock Band, the keyboard, and give the whole thing a trial by Halloween Party. All I have to say is: yeah, we like it!
Okay, some game-related details first. We had a little trouble getting the game started. Compared to the first two versions, the menus are just a bit wonky. I still don’t know where everything is. Some stuff is down below, some is up on the screen, it’s confusing. We managed to import the Rock Band 2 songs, which cost $10, but just barely since there was some severe system overload from all the people doing the same thing. On the other hand, Lego Rock Band is still trouble, and I want my Free Fallin’!
There are some really great features in the new version. When you start a band quickplay, instruments can drop in and out on each song without having to back all the way out to the band options section. That meant that I could switch between keyboard and mic depending on whether or not there was a keyboard part. Also, you can change the difficulty mid-song. So, after someone left the bass on expert, we were able to pause the song and reset it to easy for the new player. Speaking of pausing, the game now rewinds when you pause. That means that the inevitable Peter Moore move doesn’t have to ruin your score.
I love the keyboard. At least, I mostly love it. I play almost exclusively pro-keys on keyboard songs being a piano player. I’m still learning the visuals, but when I get it, it absolutely rocks. The notes are also accurate to the songs. I can say that because I’ve played both Imagine and Bohemian Rhapsody on the piano. Well, Bohemian Rhapsody is semi accurate because Freddie uses an octave and a half more than the Rock Band keyboard has, but it’s still fun. However, for non-pro mode, you just plop your hand on a basic C scale triad and play five notes. We think it would have been cooler if you could have played any note within a colored section, but, oh well. Also, if your song doesn’t have a keys part, and you don’t have the other instruments hooked up, you can play guitar and bass on the keyboard. I’m quite enjoying bass keyboard. It reminds me of my jazz piano days.
There are also some great songs in this game. I’ve already gold starred Imagine on vocals on Expert. I also adore Bohemian Rhapsody, Sister Christian, Cold as Ice, and that free Doors pack on day one. Now that Billy Joel is releasing a pack, my life is nearly complete. All we’re missing is Bruce with the bells in Thunder Road on the keys! Come on Rock Band, you can do it! Actually, the keyboard opens up a lot of possibilities, and the one my husband wants to see the most is the use of the keyboard as an accordion for a little They Might Be Giants Birdhouse in Your Soul! Come on, John’s, do it!
We had a blast with the game at the party, and I’ve had a blast on my own. There are lots of little easy achievements to unlock (like pass a Queen song, duh!), and well, give me a stage, even a fake one, and an instrument, and I am a happy camper. So, if you like Rock Band, you’ll like Rock Band 3.