Rock Band 3 Reader Review
Ah, the dreams of the young. Who hasnít drifted into peaceful dormancy at night, dreaming that, one day, those dreams of rock Ďní roll fame would be realised? Shredding guitar solos; rabid, impassioned fans; week after week of raucous partying on the back of a series of tantalisingly heavy pay cheques. Who isnít in for a bit of that?
Well, to be honest, Iím not, and neither are plenty of other people out there, but, alas, the mob has spoken. Argue and protest all you like, but the truth is that those who enjoy rhythm-based video games are now shoehorned into the same dubious category of classification, and it certainly isnít a flattering moniker to carry. Why, you simple-minded homorusticus, would you waste your time flailing away with a tawdry set of plastic instruments when there are so many better things to do with your life? Call me hopelessly naÔve, but arenít there real instruments you could be learning? Why squander the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment in favour of striking coloured buttons in direct synchronisation with their corresponding symbols on a television screen?
Because itís fun, you self-righteous twerp. Now, there are exceptions to almost every rule but, on the whole, fans of rhythm games donít genuinely tend to believe their hobby to be an accurate simulation of the music businesses and all its subtle nuances, politics and inevitable drug-fuelled public breakdowns. No, we drum, strum and hum away to our favourite tunes because it gives us pleasure during our spare time, and not to assuage our shattered dreams of basking in the adulation of our adoring fans on the main stage at Donington Park.
Thatís just one reason why Rock Band 3 is the definitive music game on the market today. Social judgements be damned; this game caters for one of the widest ranges of gamers of any title in existence, with just one tiny prerequisite: you must have the tiniest inkling of love for rock music. When you consider that rock has rapidly become an umbrella term for anything from the softest, most mellow of acoustic tones to the most punishing, skull-crushing of cacophonous riffs, that covers a rather enormous portion of the consumer population.
Still not convinced? Why not take the 100% foolproof Rock Band 3 suitability test?
(a) A Compulsive, Score-Driven Fanatic?
If youíre constantly looking for ways to enhance your sense of self-worth or perceived online legacy as a gaming pro, look no further than Rock Band 3. At its core, the game encapsulates everything that its genreís predecessors and, indeed, those of almost every game of yesteryear, stands for. The rhythm genre has always been fundamentally based around the concepts of streaks, combos, high scores and the inevitable bragging rights they engender, providing ample replay value for those constantly looking to better their last performance. Online leaderboards arenít to be scoffed at either because, lest we forget, bragging in front of your friends is what gaming is apparently all about.
(b) A Seasoned Veteran Looking for a New Challenge?
Again, Rock Band 3 has you covered, my divine superior. If colour-coordinated button mashing has worn thin, the gameís Pro Mode might just be up your street. Gone are the days when the mightiest of virtual rock gods were forced to make company with the plebs floundering away on Expert Mode. No, sir, the stakes have just been raised. Just turn on Pro Mode and let the women swoon at your mastery of musical trickery reserved solely for members of Juillard scholars and cult-supported American prog rock groups. If youíve got a few extra pounds to spare, you might even want to splash out on the snazzy new pro instruments, which apparently replicate the genuine musical experience like no other video game peripheral before them, a sure-fire way to rid yourself of that social stigma whose continued existence has directly correlated with that of your virginity for far too long now.
(c) A Mere N00b Yearning to See What the Fuss is About?
Never fear, my imbecilic little friend. Not only does Rock Band 3 offer an ample array of tutorials, practice modes and difficulty settings suitable for even those as pathetic as yourselves, but Harmonix have also been kind enough to bring back the well-received ďNo FailĒ mode from Rock Band 2, allowing you to play to your heartís content without the game cutting you off halfway through a song for being ever so slightly too crap. Think of it as being akin to learning to read, assuming you actually know how to do that.
(d) A Casual Player Yearning to be the Life of the Party?
Thereís room for you too. If experience has taught us anything, itís that nothing goes down better at a party than a multiplayer video game that anyone can play, except perhaps for a stash of hallucinogenic drugs and a ďHenryís CatĒ DVD boxset. On top of the aforementioned ďNo FailĒ mode, Rock Band 3ís developers have also been kind enough to ensure that each and every one of the gameís songs are unlocked right from the start, avoiding that damning sense of embarrassment that arises when spend half and hour setting up the instruments, only to find that you havenít yet earned the right to play ďDetroit Rock CityĒ until you learn to suck less. And, once again, Rock Band 3 sports the capacity for the importing of all your downloaded and on-disc songs from the previous games in the series (except for The Beatles, who apparently need the money so much more than such pop-culture icons as Children of Bodom and Modest Mouse), giving you a potential library of hundreds upon hundreds of melodies to suit all but the most stubborn of rock aficionados and casual warblers. Thatís not to mention the addition of keyboards and vocal harmonies into the mix, adding yet more to the variety of bells and whistles Harmonix has brought to the table. OK, so maybe the new focus of keyboards has meant that certain new songs have had to become a little more dull to play on the other instruments to compensate, but at least the occasional lulls in proceedings while you wait for the next guitar solo give you sufficient time to finish your drink or ogle over your best friendís new partner.
(e) A Cynic with a Moral Objection to Such Juvenile Puerility?
Bugger off back to FIFA, you pretentious tosser.
All in all, then, it seems as though Rock Band 3 ought to have become some sort of cultural phenomenon, redefining our day-to-day practices on both a social and entertainment level. At least that might have been the case if the whole genre hadnít been milked dry years before its release, meaning that hardly anyone gave it a look-in. Instead, had it not been for its recent success with the Kinect-based Dance Central franchise, Harmonix might very well be dead and buried by now, another casualty of the oversaturation of the video gaming market. As it is, Rock Bandís future remains uncertain but, if one thingís certain, itís that those who did pick up Rock Band 3 will appreciate it for a long time to come, even when rhythm games have finally been taken round the back of the stable and greeted with its imminent bullet to the head.
So, if youíve ever had any interest in music games, youíll find Rock Band 3 to be the most polished, satisfying offering to date. Even if youíre just looking for a nice little time-wasted, it works just as well. Its enchanting blend of simplicity and depth has got me through some rough times, and Iím all the stronger for having it as a crutch to lean on during those periods of anguish, disappointment and despair. Iím happier now, so take that, Axl. I didnít want to be in Guns ĎNí Roses anyway.