Rock Band 3 looks to bridge reality/fiction gap

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The Gentleman Gamer is proud to announce the arrival of a new voice on gaming at The San Antonio Current: Officer D-Pad. Here's his righteous preview on Rock Band 3. -- Harmonix’s third entry into the Rock Band series is taking all other rhythm games, turning them upside down and shaking them for all the money they have in their pockets. How? By introducing nearly-real instruments. Firing back at actual (snotty) musicians, their new peripherals promise to take douchebaggery to a whole new level. If you spent most of the nights mean-muggin’ the person who can sight read on expert, your nights are about to get a whole lot worse. It's all part of Harmonix's new ‘Pro’ mode. Players who want a new challenge--or who may actually want to begin to transition to an actual instrument--can do so now. To do this, Harmonix has made some changes to its equipment: First, the guitar will now come in three different types: 1) The “classic” Rock Band guitar with the five buttons on top, and the five on bottom. Older guitars from previous installments can be used for the third game. 2) A new Fender Mustang controller with 102 buttons to mimic frets and strings of an actual guitar (and bass sold separately). 3) An actual stringed Fender Stratocaster which can be used for both the game AND an amp. Should a player decide to go this route, remember that you must still learn Wayne Campbell’s “May I Help You" riff on your own.
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Secondly, there is the drum kit, or as we call it around my house, “the fight machine.” Why the drum has become so popular escapes me, but the upgrades to the new set are supposed to crank the awesome up to 11. What Harmonix has done is added three cymbal pads to the new set. These new symbols on the screen also will be color-coded and appear as circular shapes on the screen instead of rectangular. The new cymbals will be color coded (much like the add-ons for Rock Band 2) but in pro mode, players must hit the correct colors on the screen. The new drum kit will also (thankfully) have a slot for musicians to hook up as a second bass pedal or as a Hi-hat. Wind chimes, gongs, and cow bells still not included.
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Next, there is the introduction of the keyboard. This means that people can now be the least popular person in the band. Guitar parts can be played using the keyboard control, but who wants to do that? Pro mode will let you use all 25 keys, but as far as I’m concerned, if there isn’t any “November Rain” or ’80s-sylte Rush with the synthesizers and Big Arena sound, I’m not interested in this instrument.
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Finally, the vocals are also getting an upgrade. Should someone want to sing back-up, the inclusion of three extra microphones can be added. The game will also let singers add effects to your voice, letting them mix it up a bit. Autotune hopefully not included. So with all the improvements added to the newest entry, will it help the average gamer move over to real instruments? Yes and no. The guitar has the most potential out of all the instruments. With actual strings on one instrument, mock strings, and the actual usage of frets, it could help gamers understand basic things such as chords and picking. Some downfalls: the game is supposed to be forgiving with bar chords (fingers across one entire fret) and pinch harmonics can’t be played in a video game. The drums will not teach players the individual parts of a drum, but it might help them understand basic rhythm patterns. The keyboard will not have the standard 88 keys. Finally, none of the instruments will teach players the actual sounds that each instrument makes. But I'm willing to push all that negativity aside, momentarily.  For now, Rock Band 3 is, in every way, stepping from fiction to reality.

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