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Rock Band 3's keyboard and 7-player mode revealed

Rock Band 3 and its keyboard peripheral have finally been unveiled in a video by USA Today. But while the game's improved story mode and new DLC organisation sound good, it's the keyboard that everyone's craning to see. And how good does it look? Judging by its keytar-style 'stand up or sit down' design, we wouldn't be surprised if we get a Jean Michel Jarre spin-off title real soon. Check out the video here:

One thing that's really crept up on everyone is that the game now supports seven players at once. Three-part harmony on vocals, plus guitar, drums, bass and keyboard. Sounds like a party if you ask us.

But how will the keyboard player be tinking those ivories? The prototype is much more professional looking than many expected, with two octaves' worth of keys. If you look closely at the unit, you'll notice the notes have coloured strips over them. We'd wager the easy setting will let you play any note within that range to trigger that colour's note on the screen.

Above: Senior Designer, Silvain Dubrofsky, with the prototype keyboard

As you move through the difficulty levels, you'll soon be switching octaves as you follow the on-screen colour prompts, until you're basically playing the actual keyboard part. In a way, it's a pity the peripheral has only 25 keys - an expert mode that lets you play the actual song, note for note would probably sell a few thousand copies on its own from professional keyboard players who want a bit of excitement in their daily practice routines. Maybe there'll be support for full-size USB MIDI keyboards for the pros?

The keyboard has so many more applications than just playing along with songs in Rock Band. We can imagine a lot of devs looking very closely at how they could use it, if Harmonix allow it to be used outside of Rock Band circles. Imagine using it to easily create your own soundtracks in LittleBigPlanet2 or ModNation Racers. A multi-track MIDI-based music studio should be incredibly easy to implement in any creation-based game, even as DLC, and keyboard input is clearly the simplest method for MIDI creation.

This one might be bigger than we thought...

10 Jun, 2010

Justin worked on the GamesRadar+ staff for 10 whole years. Imagine that. Now he is a contributor, specialising in racing games, retro, and Sanic.