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Harmonix Riffs on Rock Band 3 Features

Harmonix and MTV have started the hype machine for Rock Band 3, the latest edition of their music-based rhythm game, promising an array of new features along with compatibility with fans’ existing instruments&Mdash;just in case anyone has already bought into previous Rock Band titles. Rock Band 3 will feature new keyboard game play, access to nearly 2,000 tracks when the game launches, support for three-part vocal harmonies, and the ability to have as many as seven people rocking out together. The game will also feature a “Pro” mode the company claims will enable player to develop actual music skills (as opposed to video game skills), along with new party modes that enable people to set up casual Rock Band games with new players more easily.

In addition to guitars, bass, drums, and lead vocals, Rock Band 3 will enable users to participate in three-part vocal harmonies. (The feature first debuted in Beatles: Rock Band, released in September 2009, and is now migrating to the mainstream game.) Rock Band 3 will also feature a keytar-like keyboard instrument, enabling player to jam along on simulated pianos, organs, accordions, and synths.

Folks who want to just jump into Rock Band 3 and have some fun will appreciate a new party mode that includes a party shuffle and persistent drop-in/drop-out selection from the screen, along with adjustable difficulty levels. Rock Band 3’s reworked Career Mode will offer over 700 goals and rewards, a leaderboad, and social networking connections so friends can follow Rock Band fans’ progress using Facebook, Twitter, and other services…which, honestly, could be a little embarrassing.

A new Rock Band Pro game play mode boasts that it will help players develop actual musical skills: Pro Drums will be able to distinguish between tom-toms and up to three “expansion cymbals.” Pro Keys will enable pitch-accurate keyboard performances within the keyboard controller’s two-octave range, and Pro Guitar will focus on guitar and bass guitar performances using either Harmonix’s own Fender Mustang “PRO-Guitar” controller or third party controller that features six strings rather than a solitary strum bar.

The basic Rock Band 3 set list will feature 83 songs ranging from the 1960s through the 2000; in addition, the game will give players online access to a music library that will approach 2,000 tracks by the time the game hits retailers; Harmonix likes to describe Rock Band’s music library as “dwarfing” any other music game on the market.

Harmonix plans to deliver Rock Band 3 for the NIntendo Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 to retailers in time for the end-of-year holiday buying season in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other markets; a version will also be available for the Nintendo DS. Rock Band 3 will work with existing Rock Band and Beatles: Rock Band instruments and peripherals; however, folks looking to up their look will be able to get spiffy official third-party peripherals from Mad Catz. No word yet on Rock Band 3 pricing, but as with other peripheral-laden music games…don’t expect it to be cheap.

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