As we gear up for E3 (starting this Monday, 14 June), details are beginning to seep out about some pretty cool stuff. Ranking high on my “Cool Stuff” list is, of course, Rock Band. Harmonix will introduce us to Rock Band 3 next week, but why not get us even more excited now?
USA Today was the first to break silence with an article on the next Rock Band installment. If you’re interested you should check it out – it’s got more detailed info and a video with some gameplay footage demo’d.
If you don’t feel like it though, some highlights:
- The screens and animations look much more streamlined. On the one hand I’m sort of sad to be losing the more cartoony elements from RB1 and RB2; the characters look much more realistic now. But on the heels of that, it sounds like there are a lot more personal touches to your characters, including what sounds like cut-scenes and a constant feeling that you’re guiding your characters through their musical journey. That’s something I’ve really wanted, so if it’s done with personality it’ll be a sacrifice I’ll be willing to make. (What I’d rather not see is the same old standard animation of guys-getting-into-van with no regard to their personality. So, like, Badcrumble should load up in a manner visually different from how Just Good Friends would do it. If that’s not the case then I suspect the charm of the cut scene could wear off quickly.)
- Keyboard integration is fully realized. This is not an afterthought. This is a ground-up innovation, as much as drums and vocals were for the leap from Guitar Hero to Rock Band. While I’m dubious about my success, I’m very excited to get my hands on this.
- Pro Mode. For those who find expert to be lacking in challenge, here comes Pro Mode. I’m both excited for and terrified by this. It is pretty much your final bridge between fake instrument and real thing. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to get my hands on that Squier controller. Like now. (This brings in another downside in that HOW MANY CONTROLLERS MUST I HAVE IN THIS HOUSE??)
- Roxing Day, up to eleven. Firstly, up to seven people can play at a time. I’m not sure how this is going to work with screen real estate, but all four main instruments (guitar, bass, drums, keys) along with vocals and two harmonies can play at the same time. (The video clip seemed to work out okay with that much going on, but it’s one thing to see it on a developer’s TV and another to see it on your own set.) What’s more, they’ve taken the party aspect to heart and anyone can now join the game, drop out of it, change instruments, etc. at any time, without pausing. Speaking for my regular Rock Band group, this is an awesome quality of life addition. Hell, just speaking for my husband and I, this is an awesome addition! Finally they’ve revamped the song sorting system. Want songs under three minutes? You can sort by that. Want only 80s metal? You can sort by that. With a projected library of over 2000 songs by year’s end, this was an absolute must, and I and my scrolling thank them for it.
Those are the bits that stood out to me, but there are a few others tidbits in the article and the accompanying video.
Then there’s the set list. There are 83 songs planned to be on the disc. Given that this is Harmonix there’s no telling how many (if at all) will be HMX or local Boston bands, particularly with the Rock Band Network now alive and well. Until we get the full setlist there’s no way of knowing. But here are the first 22 of them, sorted by decade. There’s some meh stuff in there, which is pretty par for the course, and some that is awwwweeesomme.
“Combat Baby” by Metric
“Dead End Friends” by Them Crooked Vultures
“Get Free” by The Vines
“Lasso” by Phoenix
“Me Enamora” by Juanes
“Oh My God” by Ida Maria
“Portions for Foxes” by Rilo Kiley
“The Hardest Button to Button” by The White Stripes
“Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne
“Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake
“I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure
“Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio
“The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News
“Sister Christian” by Night Ranger
My favourites? I was utterly stoked to see “Portions for Foxes” and “Plush” and, oh, every single thing in the 80s. (Though I don’t know how I’ll get through “Here I Go Again” without doing Julie Brown’s “How To Be A Model In A Video Video”.) This is an excellent start to the setlist and I cannot wait to see what else Harmonix has in store for us.
Is it Christmas yet?