At last, your shame will end. At last, you will be able to tell your guitar-playing friends that you too can play guitar, well sorta, thanks to Rock Band 3's pro guitar mode. Plus, you will have learned guitar better.
There is a simplicity to Rock Band 3's Pro Guitar mode that words can convey more cheaply, but less effectively and efficiently, than can a copy of Harmonix's next game played with a $150 special guitar-shaped controller in your hands.
Yes, in your hands, with Rock Band 3's Pro Guitar trainer mode running, this device, with all of its buttons, a separate one where each portion of guitar string should go on each fret...
... will seem like the perfectly non-confusing instrument with which to execute the commands that the training software spawns such as these...
A few weeks ago, with a device like the former in hand and an image like the latter in front of me, I overcame my fears and felt, more than I ever had in the past, like I had a shot at playing a real guitar.
When it launches in October, alongside that Mad Catz Pro Guitar you see above, Rock Band 3 will allow its braver and wealthier players to connect Pro Guitar (which doubles as a functional MIDI guitar) to game for a more advanced guitar-playing experience than you usually have when playing a music video game. Pro Guitar is more than just matching a rainbow of five buttons to a cascade of notes on your TV, as you flick a lever that pretends to be every string on the guitar. Pro Guitar mode expects you to ... oh no... know notes and... terrifying... hold down and strum the correct strings and ... shudder... move your hand to different places of that guitar neck while you play a song. Wait. Isn't this what those real guitar players sort of do when they're not sneering at people who play Rock Band and Guitar Hero?
Rock Band 3 has a forgiving and helpful Guitar Pro training mode. This is what we must celebrate. In this mode, you are taught the lessons of playing the closest thing the Harmonix franchise has ever offered to real guitar. As with the "pro" keyboard mode, these lessons are played in real-time, with the notes you need to play cascading down the screen. And, as with the pro keyboard mode, you can slow the lesson, essentially allowing you to downgrade to an underwater tempo if your fingers can't keep up. Once you complete a challenge, you can move on to the next one.