(EA for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
Is there really any competition in the music game genre nowadays? Not really: The Guitar Hero franchise has, with decent results, shifted its focus to a fantasy-based score-attack scenario, retreating from its quest to rule the world by replicating the success of Rock Band, which was its M.O. for the past couple of years (Guitar Hero: World Tour, Guitar Hero 5). It’s a smart move, since Rock Band 2 essentially perfected the music game as we know it back in 2008, and the release of Rock Band 3 is the equivalent of running up the score: It puts all competitors firmly in their place. It’s a no-stone-unturned evolution of the series, from the improved user interface and overall presentation to the steady implementation of new features like vocal harmonies and overhauled tour goals, to huge new additions like a new instrument (the keyboard) and the option to take advantage of full note-for-note song tutorials (by way of Pro Mode, which supports an augmented Rock Band drum kit or special high-end guitar controller). The thousands of songs available for purchase online allow players to further customize their experience (metalheads are well-served), and since the list is updated every week (as it has been for three years), the game stays vital for a long time beyond its release window.