Rock Band Special Edition (PS3 Video Game) - Review

Rock Band Special Edition (PS3 Video Game) - Review

This game includes the software, guitar controller, drum controller and mic. Rock Band has versions available for PS3, Xbox 360, PS2 and Wii.

Rock Band is at its best when you have one or two other people available to form your own band. However, solo artists will also find challenging gameplay good for hours of fun.

Review Excerpt: “Both single player and multiplayer modes are available in the game. In multiplayer, you can have any two instruments played or with enough pals and an extra guitar controller from Guitar Hero 1 or 2 you can get a full quartet going with drums, bass, lead guitar and vocalist. I would assume if you are coordinated enough you could also play an instrument and sing allowing for the strange notion of single player play in multiplayer mode.”


The PS3 version of Rock Band Special Edition features a wireless guitar controller that uses a USB dongle plugged into the front of the system rather than Bluetooth like the normal PS3 controllers. The guitar is modeled after the famous Fender Stratocaster guitar and has five fret buttons on the top of the guitar neck and five on the lower neck. The lower fret buttons are spaced closer together and allow you to finger tap notes without strumming in solos. The buttons on the top of the neck are spaced further apart. The strum bar is what actually activates the notes during the game.

Guitar Controller

On the body of the guitar are controls for starting the game, selecting a song and a D-Pad for menu navigation. The guitar controller is used for both bass and lead guitar parts. A five-way FX switch allows for flanger, wah wah, echo, and chorus effects. Playing as either the bass or the lead guitar requires you to hit the strum bar while holding down the correctly colored fret button as the notes cross the bar at the bottom of the screen. Anyone who had played Guitar Hero, or been to Wal-Mart where it seems to be a mandate from management that a demo is set up in the game section, knows what the guitar sections play like.

The guitar on my PS3 version had an issue with the strum bar where every now and again it wouldn’t accept input or the strum bar would stick in the down position. EA has acknowledged a defect in some of the early release version guitars and it seems mine was one of the effected versions. EA has a replacement process on its website to get new guitars into the hands of Rock Band Special Edition owners. It bothers me that to get a replacement guitar before you have to return your defective one you have to give EA a credit card number where they put a hold on $125 to cover the new guitar and a “handling fee”. If you use a credit card the amount won’t be charged, but the funds will be placed on hold pending the return within 28 days of the defective controller. However, if you use a check card or debit card EA actually takes the cash out of your bank, which really sucks.

I can understand the need to get a credit card number in the business sense because there is a chance that some won’t return the defective controllers. However, when I plunk down $170 of my money for your game and one of the controllers is defective, making me pay for a replacement is hard to swallow. There is a method where you can have EA send you a return shipping box and label allowing you to return the guitar without charge, but you will be without your guitar controller for a week or so while your new one is shipped. That said $125 is simply overpriced, come on EA that’s the vast majority of the cost of the entire Rock Band Special Edition game simply for an advanced RMA of the guitar controller.

I was never a Guitar Hero player so I can’t really compare the two games in terms of guitar gameplay. I can tell you from a newbie perspective to music games that I found the guitar game play sections challenging when I first started even on easy difficulty setting. After a few hours of play, the guitar sections became much easier to play. You have to get into a rhythm, and it helps when your guitar controller works correctly. The reason the gameplay with the guitar in Rock Band Special Edition is so much like Guitar Hero is because the guys who made the first two Guitar Hero games, Harmonix, made Rock Band Special Edition as well. Crank the difficulty up to hard or expert and playing the guitar becomes very challenging. You have to hold multiple fret buttons at one time as you strum and the notes come at a furious pace.

Drum Controller

The drum kit is the most interesting instrument to me and the reason I wanted to give the game a shot. The drum controller is a five-piece set that includes four drums and a kick pedal for bass. Getting the timing down is a learning process on the drums. It’s easy to get off a little and miss enough notes that you are kicked off stage. You use a real pair of drumsticks for the Rock Band Special Edition drums and have to tap the notes out on one of the four colored rubber drum pads or stomp the pedal. The trick to the drums is to be able to get each hand and your foot to be able to do something different at the same time, a formidable task for someone who has never played drums. On the easy setting the notes come fast, you have to keep time, and occasionally on some tracks, you will need to hit a note on the drums and the bass pedal at the same time.

When you crank the difficulty up, you will find drumming to be very challenging with the need to hit multiple notes at once along with the bass pedal and still keep time. The drums are also the only controller that you actually hear what you are doing on, other than the singing of the vocalist. The drum kit feels sturdy and well built. It has two wide feet to keep it from moving during fast songs. The two aluminum legs are height adjustable and the drums can be set up for tabletop use. Two of the local Wal-Mart stored had Rock Band Special Edition demos set up over the holidays and in both stores the drum pads didn’t last long. You never know what people did to the drums, but I have to wonder how long the drums can take beating on them before they rubber pads say uncle.

Playing the drums looks much like playing the guitar controller with notes scrolling down the screen. The main d difference visually is the long orange bars that signal the kick pedal. Turn the difficulty up for the drums and things get very complex. You are basically playing the entire actual drum notes for the song at the hardest settings.


The final aspect of the Rock Band Special Edition is the wired mic for the singer. You will probably be glad to hear that you don’t have to be a good singer. The game simply looks for the singer to hit the phrases correctly at some semblance of the correct pitch on lower difficulty settings. Turn the difficulty up and you have to be more on pitch to get good scores. It’s much easier to play the singer roll if you know the songs, but the words do scroll bouncing ball style across the top of the screen.


Both single player and multiplayer modes are available in the game. In multiplayer, you can have any two instruments played or with enough pals and an extra guitar controller from Guitar Hero 1 or 2 you can get a full quartet going with drums, bass, lead guitar and vocalist. I would assume if you are coordinated enough you could also play an instrument and sing allowing for the strange notion of single player play in multiplayer mode. You can go on tour with your band in multi-player mode and unlock new songs to play, earn money to buy new cloths and instruments in the Rock Shop and more. Over time you can get a manager, earn planes and more. In multiplayer mode if one player fails out and gets kicked off stage the other players can go into overdrive and bring him back into the game. You have to have all the players that start a song to finish the song.

There is also a single player tour where you choose to play as guitarist, vocalist or drummer. As you go on the tour, the venues grow from seedy bars to stadiums. You earn cash to upgrade your clothes and instruments and unlock new tracks along the way. Some of the tunes in Rock Band are not that great in my opinion, and some I have never heard of. However, there are some songs from the original artists that most players will be familiar with like “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. In all 45 tracks are included with the game plus 13 bonus tracks. There are also downloadable songs available and more songs will come in the future.

Song List


  • Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter


  • Aerosmith - Train Kept a Rollin' (Cover)
  • Black Sabbath - Paranoid (Cover)
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper
  • Boston - Foreplay/Long Time
  • David Bowie - Suffragette City
  • Deep Purple - Highway Star
  • KISS - Detroit Rock City
  • Molly Hatchet - Flirtin' with Disaster
  • Mountain - Mississippi Queen (Cover)
  • The Outlaws - Green Grass & High Tides (Cover)
  • The Police - Next to You
  • The Ramones - Blitzkrieg Bop
  • Sweet - Ballroom Blitz (Cover)
  • The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again


  • Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead or Alive
  • The Clash - Should I Stay or Should I Go
  • Faith No More - Epic
  • Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills (Cover)
  • Pixies - Wave of Mutilation
  • R.E.M. - Orange Crush
  • Rush - Tom Sawyer (Cover)


  • Beastie Boys - Sabotage
  • Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly
  • Garbage - I Think I'm Paranoid
  • Hole - Celebrity Skin
  • Metallica - Enter Sandman
  • Nirvana - In Bloom
  • Radiohead - Creep
  • Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
  • Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun
  • Stone Temple Pilots - Vasoline
  • Weezer - Say it Ain't So


  • Coheed & Cambria - Welcome Home
  • Fall Out Boy - Dead on Arrival
  • The Hives - Main Offender
  • Jet - Are You Gonna be My Girl
  • The Killers - When You Were Young
  • New Pornographers - Electric Version
  • Nine Inch Nails - The Hand That Feeds
  • OK Go - Here it Goes Again
  • Queens of the Stone Age - Go with the Flow
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California
  • The Strokes - Reptilia
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps

    This game begs for some guitar rock like ZZ Top or some Skynard. Dead Heads will like the Grateful Dead download pack available now for download.

    Final Thoughts

    One interesting thing about Rock Band Special Edition I have noticed, and experienced myself is that it seems like a goofy concept at first. You look at the game and wonder what the point is. Once you pick up a controller and play the game, it becomes very fun and addicting and you get the concept. People stand at the side looking at the players and once they play the game they understand how much fun it can be.