I am quivering in anticipation right now! Two of history's greatest rhythm game licenses just opened up their pre-E3 information floodgates, outlining the details and features new to their latest numbered/not-numbered-anymore installments: Harmonix's Rock Band 3 and Neversoft's Guitar Hero:
Just one step closer to Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)! Also, one step closer to marathon-playsession-induced throat problems.
Rock Band 3: Enhanced character models -- no word on whether you can add animating wings/tails to your characters or play bass alongside an octopus just yet, but they do look better, at least. World Tour mode is enhanced with more supplementary visuals, which show your characters physically getting from place to place and picking out songs. Hundreds of miniature achievement-like goals are there to collect throughout your band's quest. The addition of keyboard and harmonies allows for up to seven players in a band at once. Drop-in/drop-out gameplay, new song filtering options (show me "songs that get players angry about being able to download them", please), and Rock Band Pro, which requires special hardware that allows players to better transition from plastic-instruments to ones that can make actual music, singlehandedly defusing the smug one-liners of sarcastic roommates everywhere.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock: There are enough enhancements to Quickplay mode to warrant the tacking-on of a plus sign at the end of it! These involve challenges available for all Guitar Hero-compatible content on your hard drive. However, the comprehensive Quest Mode is the focus; in it, you rescue the Demigod of ROCK N' ROLL from the evil beast of... something-or-other; smooth jazz, I guess? It contains heavily stylized characters and amazing mythical power-ups, with which your characters of choice can transform into terrifying, powerful beasts. This has the effect of, say, expanding your score multiplier from 4X to 6X. Narrated by Gene Simmons (bass player of KISS), dubbed "Honorary Voice of Rock N' Roll" by a group of Activision's most influential executives aged 40 and over. (Runner-ups for the title include Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, ZZ Top's Dusty Hill, and Bret Michaels of Poison.)
crganahl rockin' is sunthin' shawkin' when yer feet jes' can't keep still
Rock Band 3: A keyboard! Formerly described as a "keytar" by someone who "did the math" on keyboard + handle-for-transportation, it has 25 keys, 5 of which are visible during normal play (17 during Pro mode, with onscreen indicators to tell you where to put your hands at any given time). It's MIDI-compatible, which makes this the perfect opportunity to start composing brilliant faux-orchestral power-ballads with a shoplifted copy of FruityLoop Studio, if you please. A $40 MIDI controller "brain" allows you to plug in actual keyboards/drumkits, if you've got 'em. Drums and guitars have also been severely enhanced to accommodate "Pro" mode, adding three cymbals to the drumkit, 103 additional buttons to the existing guitar, and controller technology to actual guitar. All of these can be used on any difficulty level, ensuring a smooth transition to real-life musicianhood (completely straying from the precedent set by Guitar Hero Metallica's Expert+, which requires an extra bass pedal, a bottle of hooch, and a devil-may-care attitude to pull off correctly).
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock: A new guitar! Five buttons; the touchstrip was giving them problems, apparently, so they removed it. This one has its controller-components contained entirely in the neck! This means you can break the body of the guitar apart (smashing it after a successful set) and replace it with something that better suits your personal tastes, on the off-chance you don't like the one supplied to you by default. You could even just break the wings off and play guitar with a standalone neck, for maximum aerodynamics; the choice is entirely yours! Also note that the body has convenient airholes; not only do they make the guitar go faster, but you can stuff small bags of potato chips in 'em in case you need an energy boost during a set. If that's not a selling point, what is?
Stratocaster? Pff; no licensing necessary, here. Look at it! It's jaunty, plastic, and on fire!!
Rock Band 3: 83 songs. Standout tracks of those announced so far:
2000s: "Dead End Friends" - Them Crooked Vultures
1990s: "Walkin' on the Sun" - Smash Mouth
1980s: "Here I Go Again" - Whitesnake
1970s: "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
1960s: "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" - The Doors
In addition to these, Rock Band 3 is compatible with the 1200+ songs currently available via exported game disc or through downloadable content, either via the Rock Band Music Store or the Rock Band Network of independently-published game tracks.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock: More than 90 songs. Standout tracks of those announced so far:
2000s: "Fury of the Storm" - Dragonforce
1990s: "Wish" - Nine Inch Nails
1980s: "Pour Some Sugar On Me" - Def Leppard
1970s: "Children of the Grave" - Black Sabbath
1960s: "Stray Cat Blues" - The Rolling Stones
In addition to these, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is compatible with the 300+ songs available via exported game disc or through downloadable content available from the Guitar Hero Music Marketplace. "GHTunes" functionality, which allows players to compose five-key MIDI songs and upload them to an online database, is unconfirmed.
Jane's Addiction fans are covered, no matter which game you pick! Bohemian Rhapsody's also in both -- why'd I count it for Rock Band, again?
Warriors of Rock's setlist is bigger. So, if you're looking for something you can throw into your Xbox and plow through over the course of a few weeks with the guitar controller that's been laying around in your closet ever since Guitar Hero Van Halen, then you should absolutely pick it up and become engrossed in the Brutal-Legend-like yarn they dedicate their primary game mode toward spinning! For anyone else who wants a full-band experience that can serve as a platform for 99-plus percent of any non-Beatles songs you've purchased to date -- especially anyone who wants to don a pair of sunglasses with star-shaped frames and plonk out a simplistic-yet-functional version of "The Power Of Love" (preferably with a microphone in your face so you can sing while shaking your head 'no' as you play) on something people could look at and call an "actual instrument" without busting up afterward -- Rock Band 3 seems like the sensible choice.
In all seriousness, it feels like both games are the result of different philosophies by each developer/publisher! Warriors of Rock's upgrades are far more incremental in comparison. This may imply that Activision believes the music-game genre has found its niche. They can continue to rack up steady profits as long as each release is spaced out far enough apart from one another to keep Guitar Hero's brand equity from falling too fast. Rock Band 3's changes are so radical and crazy -- taking steps to legitimize and reinvigorate the world of music games, instead of resting on their laurels and leaving the mechanics as-is -- that making the comparison to Warriors of Rock feels almost cheap and flimsy. In that case, can you really even call them competitors anymore?
What? No, you don't hit the colored parts! Shut up! Leave me alone!!
Egh; this is complicated. Tell you what; just go with PowerGig: Rise of the SixString. It promises a three-person band experience more authentic than any Guitar Hero or Rock Band game released to date, while at the same time providing a drum controller even more ridiculous than the one included in Rock Revolution. It'll make for more entertaining YouTube videos, at least~