This is an abridged review from Xbox World 360 issue 98. For loads more info, opinion and screens of Rock Band 3, pick up the mag when it hits stores early next week. Alternatively, buy it online and have it delivered straight to your door.
Welcome to what is likely to be the last rhythm action game - DJ Hero series aside - you'll see Xbox World 360 review for a very, very long time.
Not because production of rhythm action games has halted, but because there's simply no need to cover them again.
Harmonix has always been the master of the rhythm-action trade, and Rock Band 3 is the game they've been wanting to make for the entirety of their 16 year history.
It's a culmination of nearly two decades of beat-matching expertise joined with an industry-bridging step in the form of the critic-silencing Pro mode.
With over 2000 songs in the Rock Band network available through DLC and the ability to import previous games' tracks, the library is home to some of the greatest tunes ever composed.
And the mechanics to play them have been refined and purified until faultless.
It's the music game even Harmonix itself will struggle to ever top, although the debate as to whether it can still be classed as an actual game any more begins right about... now.
Understandably it's Pro mode that's likely to capture everybody's attention so there's as good a place as any to begin.
The whole point of Pro mode (and the reason why some would argue the package transcends game status) is to get you playing real instruments.
That means real MIDI instruments, real hybrid guitars (or the 102 button variant) and months of practising.
On Expert Pro mode the note tracking is 1:1 with the real music. Great for the tiny percentage of gamers who happen to be ridiculously talented musicians and fancy learning some new tunes; not so hot for anybody picking up an instrument for the first time.
Pro guitar is especially tricky (we'd recommend sticking with Pro bass instead of lead until you're comfortable) and frustrating to begin with.
If you're expecting to pick it up without putting in entire weeks of graft to learning each track's fingering first, think again.
Obviously new skills take time to develop so Harmonix has included Hard, Medium and Easy Pro modes to slightly soften that near-vertical learning curve.
The further you drop down the difficulties the more tricky note patterns you'll notice discarded from the tracklist, but even on easy you'll be playing the basic framework of your chosen song.
The tutorials aren't a substitute for, say, real music lessons, but they're enough to give you an appreciation of what you're doing.
Pro mode works amazingly well, but it isn't all Rock Band 3 has to offer. That it's a feature worth buying the game for alone is really without question, but remove it from the equation entirely and you're left with what would be perceived to be (had the Pro mode not opened our eyes to greater possibilities) a perfect 'standard' rhythm game.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
Green, red, blue, yellow and orange...the existence of extra inputs doesn't suddenly invalidate the appeal of the classic five-colour 'Simon Says' actions we've been playing for years.
Even the new keyboard gets in on the action. It seems a waste to just use its rudimentary functions (and chances are you'll gravitate to its Easy and Medium Pro modes as your new default options) but if you want you can just stick with five keys for your Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting kicks.