E3 2010 highlights: Ubisoft Press Conference

Ubisoft brought some star power to their press conference, bringing back the venerable Joel McHale to host the festivities.  Starting off with a Kinect demo of Child of Eden, the spiritual successor to Rez, Ubisoft opened by answering a question I never knew I wanted to ask: what would a

E3 2010 Highlights: EA’s Press Conference

Electronic Arts, like Microsoft before it, had nothing particularly mind-blowingly unexpected, but what it did show (particularly the trailer to Star Wars: The Old Republic) had many in a tizzy.  I’ve never even used that word before.  EA opened their event with a beautiful trailer for Criterion Games’ Need for

E3 2010 Highlights: Microsoft’s Press Conference

Following up yesterday’s Project Natal Microsoft Kinect event, Microsoft started off E3 with a bang.  This morning at 9:30 AM PST, Microsoft opened their “Global Media Briefing” with an impressive, extended preview through the jungles of Call of Duty: Black Ops. Microsoft only upped their game from there. The keynote,

More Details on ‘Rock Band 3’ Pro Mode and Instruments

Following up on yesterday’s announcements, Harmonix has released some screen shots of the upcoming Rock Band 3, giving us a taste of what we can expect to see in the upcoming rhythm game.  The screenshots, tangentially, also enlighten us as to how the Pro mode will be played on the guitar, the keyboard, and drum set.

Normal Mode

This screenshot illustrates the Rock Band setup we all know and love (right-click and “view image” for full size.)  Not much has changed, but the visual style has been ramped up a bit.  The keyboard, at its easiest, only requires you to hit a key within the range defined as “red,” “green,” or, in this case, “yellow.”

Pro Mode

This shot illustrates Pro mode enabled for the guitar, bass, and keyboard.  As you can see, Pro mode shifts the look accordingly.  Guitar and bass now work on a six-string note highway, with a number illustrating (presumably) the fret to be pressed.  (Yes, bass guitars use six strings here, instead of the more common four.)

The Pro keyboard demands that the proper notes be hit at the appropriate times, instead of the just “hit a note in the red area” from the easier modes.  According to Harmonix, once you learn the keys in this game, you will be able to sit down at an actual piano and play out the song — that’s how accurate the notation is.

While pro drums aren’t illustrated, the press release states that the drums will incorporate the three cymbals, each one differentiating between toms and cymbals to be played accordingly.

Hit the jump for shots of the instruments (you’ll want to see the Stratocaster and cringe in fear) and the press release, which details more info on the gameplay modes and social aspects, including Facebook and Twitter integration.

‘Rock Band 3’ Features Midi Keyboard and ‘Pro’ Mode

When Rock Band emerged from the whole Harmonix-RedOctane-Activision fiasco, the game took the world by a musical storm.  The game was like nothing we’ve ever played when it was released in November 2007.  While reminiscent of its fan-favorite predecessor, Guitar Hero, the game had an entirely new flavor of its own predicated by the notion of “band” — friends who play together.

Since then, the saturation and sheer costs of the music game genre brought on by various Guitar Heroes, Band Heroes, Rock Band: [Insert Artist], and other various copycats (I’m looking at you, Rock Revolution) has brought a “music game fatigue” to the industry and the public.

Amidst that sea of fatigue and complacency, Harmonix releases Rock Band 3, with two particular upgrades to the series that the company hopes will reinvigorate the genre and “help feed the appetite for music for years to come”:  a 25-key midi keyboard and a “Rock Band Pro” mode.

As originally reported in the USA Today, Rock Band Pro mode fixes a criticism that has plagued the music game genre since the beginning:  “it doesn’t really teach you how to play an instrument.”  The new mode uses six-string guitars and requires proper fingering in contrast to the single-strum, color-coded system we’re used to.  Pro mode will also be available for drums and keyboard.

The keyboard, an instrument I’ve wanted integrated in to Rock Band for years, opens a whole new set of possibilities for awesome songs, and Harmonix isn’t one to disappoint.  In their partially release Rock Band 3 track list, they’re bringing kareoke fan favorites (Queen, the Doors, Whitesnake, and many others) to the peripherally-laden game.  Other bonuses in RB3:  three-part vocal harmonies, better story mode storylines, easier menus, and other little tweaks.

While I have certainly been feeling the music game fatigue of late, I can honestly say I’m excited about this.  I will have to find a place for all of my old plastic peripherals, though, because I know I’ll want the full-sized, fully-functional, fully-armed, and fully-operational six-string Fender Stratocaster for Pro mode along with the improved drumset and keyboard.  Small price to pay.

Rock Band 3 is currently slated for release this holiday season.  No price has been announced.

Partial track listing after the jump.

2011 Is When Everything Changes: ‘Torchwood’ Returns

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A New Frontier for ‘Star Trek’ Scores

Within the same week, the musical world of Star Trek became a whole lot richer.  Specialty labels Film Score Monthly and Varese Sarabande released two expanded and complete soundtracks: James Horner’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) and Michael Giacchino’s reboot Star Trek (2009). Last summer, Film Score

The Legend Returns

In news I wasn’t particularly expecting to see today, an honest-to-God living legend is returning to the game of basketball.  Virtually, of course. In a press release, 2K Sports announced that Michael Jordan, the 14-time NBA All-Star, five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, six-time NBA World Champion and recent Hall of

Earthworm Jim HD Trailer! Groovy!

The new trailer for Earthworm Jim HD really makes me wish I still had my old VHS tapes of the Saturday morning cartoon that I recorded from Connecticut’s WB59 every week. It was pretty awesome. So was the game that I had for the Sega Genesis. Gameloft, wonderfully, seems to

Captain America!

io9 has shown us  the concept art for Captain America’s costume and I couldn’t be happier! I was really wondering how they were going to pull this off. Cap’s classic costume is so iconic and yet kind of silly. It looks like they took the Ultimate’s style (which was pretty