OK so for Christmas I got Guitar Hero III for the Playstation 3. My wife is the greatest! I love it like mad and wasted many a good hour playing it. I started getting the itch to play with a second person and GH3 guitars for PS3 are scarce. It started to occur to me that maybe the Rock Band guitar would work (more on that later). So the seed was planted. Then as I regularly checked the Playstation 3 Store via my PS3 I noticed that Rock Band was adding a ton of killer songs while GH3 was getting very little and mostly crap. So with a hefty tax return imminent, I made a deal with the devil (Val gets a COSTCO membership and a ton of food storage and I get Rock Star). So what follows is my review of both.
Guitar Hero 3: OK it rocks. Hard. The set list is great. Most of the songs by the original artists. When I played Paint it Black for the first time I was in heaven. That being said, most of the songs fit into a few narrow genres and are limited in numbers. You can buy songs in game when you earn money but mostly from a bunch of no-name bands. You can download new songs as made available but so far the selection has been disappointing. That being said, I expect them to release an expansion set like they did with GH2 and the 80s pack. We'll see. Moving on. The guitar is very responsive and playing the songs is way fun. The star power triggered by tilting the guitar happens with ease (not so in Rock Band). The format is pretty simplified and is geared toward just getting to the music. You can play all the songs through for a final battle with Lou but once you've done it at any level then that's it. You can change the difficulty but the story is the same. So the guitar is better (not as pretty as the fender, but feels better and more responsive), and the guitar play is more fun. I almost forgot this as I've been playing Rock Band almost exclusively lately. Then today I whipped out Slow Ride on "Hard." What a freaking blast!
Rock Band: What sold me on this game is what still makes it so much fun for me and that's the set list. When I saw that you could download "Limelight" by RUSH I think that's when I decided to buy it. So there are nearly 100 songs on the game that you play in your normal set list, can add as bonus songs and then an additional 40+ songs that you can download. I bought 16 of them at $1-2/per song. The songs span every genre and I have had so much fun playing songs like "Creep" by Radiohead and "Maps" by the Yeah Yeahs. There's a ton of great songs. GH3 just can't match it. The guitar is fine but not as good as the GH3 guitar. The whammy bar is too high off the body and it's hard at time to trigger overdrive by tilting the neck. But it works fine. It does have a second set of frets for small hands and big finishes. Game play is much more sophisticated. Your player can be customized down to great details. I have Duncan and Watts as drummers based on characters from "Some Kind of Wonderful." I know. I'm a nerd. On solo the play is just like GH3. You progress through all the songs on your skill level then you are done. But in band mode it's more complex. You have to gain fans, groupies and roadies. Also you can't beat any part of the tour by staying on easy. You eventually have to up the skill level or your fan level will plateau and you can't progress. So that's pretty cool. Also you play half of your music as set list. For each gig you build a set list and there is a random request list and some gigs have local band set lists. So that's cool. Great gameplay that you won't get bored of quickly. OK on to why people buy this game: the full band. So far I have had Joe play guitar while I do drums (which is to much for his current coordination). It's a lot of fun. One thing that bugs me is the way you send the drums into overdrive. You have to do a freestyle banging on the drums and it often interupts the song and doesn't sound right. But that's being pretty picky. The drums are hard. When you start getting into the drum pedal...well let's say Medium feels like Hard to me. Also, I've had friends over and we take turns picking up the mic. This is like the best Karaoke ever. Now if only we had a second guitar for Bass. OK, time to complain. The guitars should be compatible for both games and Harmonix made a patch for just that but Activision is blocking it. Which sucks because you can't buy a guitar by itself for Rock Band and the GH3 guitar is in very short supply. The 2 companies say they are still negotiating. Well they had better hurry or they will both get screwed. Nyko is releasing a guitar in March that will work for both. I know at least one customer who will buy one if the Rock Band and GH3 folks can't get it together. Complaint over.
In summary, Rock Band is better for gameplay/storyline etc, the ability to play with others instead of taking turns watching each other and a killer set list. Did I mention their incredible set list? GH3 is better if you just want to rock out. I can't say why but the guitar play is just more fun and the guitar works better. So is one better than the other? The only solution is to buy both. I'm sorry for your wallet but it's just true. I gotta go. Joe says there's a gig in Seattle that requires our attention.