Rock Band 3 Keyboard Controller Review
Rock Band 3 is the latest in the instrument-based rhythm gaming genre. It features a new keyboard controller that spans two octaves and can be played either sitting on a stand or strapped “keytar” style on the player’s shoulder.
There are no loading screens and the action is always moving, with players navigating between songs in a quick-play mode. Also new are vocal harmonies, first introduced in The Beatles: Rock Band, which allow up to three singers per song.
The new game expands the Rock Band experience with support for a 25-key keyboard (left), MIDI compatible real guitars and electronic drum kits, and 3-part vocal harmonies. Up to 7 players can play together locally or online.
Unlike previous Rock Band games, the keyboard controller is not attached to a peripheral instrument but rather operates as a standard gaming console wireless USB controller. A MIDI output connector offers compatibility with MIDI sequencers and other external music hardware.
The keyboard uses the same basic RB3 game controller layout as all other instruments, though some key mappings are different. The X and B buttons are mapped to the keyboard’s Octave Up and Down controls. The left and right action keys toggle drum mapping and the D-pad buttons function as a four-way directional pad – up, down, left and right. A dedicated button triggers the whammy effect. Other key mappings include C1 to Open (Select), F1 to Left, and G1 to Right.
The guitar in Rock Band 3 is a nice improvement over previous models. It has a more natural feel, the thumb rest and strum bar are more responsive and the’star power’ feature where you tilt up and get double points for hitting a string of notes without missing is really satisfying.
The addition of keyboards and Pro mode take Rock Band to the next level, expanding its music library and bringing learning instruments into the game by disguising practice into fun. Refinements to the interface are welcome and the song selection is a great mix of old and new songs.
MadCatz’s keyboard is a cute little unit with 25 full keys, MIDI DIN and intelligent mapped controls that integrate seamlessly into the console. It has a standard complement of gaming controller buttons that toggle functions – up turns on drum mapping, right switches bass to left channel and down changes pedal to channel volume. The keyboard is bundled with the game for $80 street and is compatible with other MIDI devices.
The Wireless Keyboard Controller features a two-octave, non-weighted, velocity-sensitive keyboard with MIDI output connector for compatibility with MIDI software sequencers. It also features a standard complement of game controls and an effects touchpad.
Rock Band 3 is the latest installment in the popular rhythm music gaming series from Harmonix Music Systems. It supports 1-7 players (locally or online) using instrument controllers that accurately simulate the playing of lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. In addition to the four Basic instrument controllers used in previous games, the game includes a 25-key keyboard and support for MIDI compatible real or electronic drum kits. It also supports three-part vocal harmonies, first seen in the Beatles and Green Day: Rock Band games.
To side step system limitations, the game offers a local “All Instruments” quick play mode where all parts are played simultaneously allowing seven people to play together. However, the results are not scored alongside those of the other instruments.
Unlike previous rhythm games, the keyboard instrument has 25 keys in addition to the standard guitar and bass controllers. The keyboard also functions as a MIDI keyboard, offering compatibility with MIDI sequencers and other compatible hardware.
A new “Pro” mode offers a more realistic music learning experience for both keyboardists and guitarists. The Pro mode replaces the traditional color-coded notes with more realistic music notations. For example, keyboard players must use the full range of keys while guitar pro mode requires accurate fingering on the fret board.
Players score points by perfectly playing marked sections of the song or deploying “Overdrive”, a multiplier on scores that is deployed differently depending on the instrument. If the entire band successfully deploys Overdrive, the player earns additional bonus points.
The game supports existing Rock Band discs, downloadable content and songs from the Rock Band Network. After re-release in 2011, Harmonix continued to release weekly downloadable songs until Rock Band 4 was released in 2015. The game also includes the ability to give created characters custom tattoos, makeup and face paint.