Rock Band 3 is the threequel to Harmonix' incredibly popular alternative to Guitar Hero. With better gameplay, a more pleasing interface and superior setlists, the Rock Band games have always been a thorn in the side of Guitar Hero. To everyone else though, they're the perfect music games.
Rock Band 3 has many new features and improvements, the main one being the complete overhaul of the career mode. Instead of playing venue after venue, you now complete road challenges. These consist of a small number of venues along one stretch of road, across a state, . You'll play a certain number of songs and earn stars, as usual, but you will also earn up to 5 bonus stars for completing the ever changing goals. These could be for getting high streaks or being accurate. As you are doing what the challenge says, a bar fills up along the bottom. Miss a note and the bar resets, putting you under even more pressure.
Each road challenge has bronze, silver and gold medals, depending on how well you play and how many stars you attain. More stars also equals more fans, and more fans unlock more extravagant modes of transport as your band becomes bigger and better. The road challenges change the game. Not only do you have to be good, you have to be really good. Accuracy and nerves of steel are needed.
The set list is the best ever seen in a music game. 'Free Bird' by Lynyrd Skynyrd is back, following it's debut in Guitar Hero 2, but now it is the original recording as opposed to a cover, and obviously you can now play with other instruments. Playing this song with others is truly incredible, especially in the later sections, as the pace picks up and the song becomes more challenging for everyone (bar the singer). Also present is 'Bohemian Rhapsody', the classic Queen track which was also present on this year's Guitar Hero. Other amazing songs include Night Ranger's 'Sister Christian', 'Heart of Glass' by Blondie and a selection of over 2000 songs available on the Rock Band Network.
The biggest new feature is of course the keyboard. Allowing for normal and Pro play, the keyboard is most definitely the hardest to master. Many advanced tutorials may help, but not much. It's better to get your bearings and play a few songs on easy. Once you get the hang of it, it's extremely satisfying. Playing your favourite piano songs perfectly makes you feel better than pressing buttons on a small guitar ever could. Awkward positioning of the touch strip and overdrive trigger do let it down slightly, but more advanced players will surely find a way to embrace it. Due to the price, the keyboard is a big commitment, so it's easy to see why a lot of people may miss out. But in the right hands, and with a LOT of practice, it is the most accurate and satisfying instrument in a music game so far.
Overall, Rock Band 3 is a masterpiece. From the slight improvements to the brand new features, everything is pitch perfect and it easily takes the crown as the best music game of all time. Beating this will be hard, but there is no doubt that whatever is next for Harmonix, it will be nothing short of amazing.