After a disappointing year of sales for the industry’s leading rhythm games it would seem as though it’s time for a bit of a shake up, and from what we’ve read so far, Rock Band should be getting the upper hand. Following Harmonix’s announcement of Rock Band Network beta, it has now revealed details of Rock Band 3. Set to bring a whole new level of realism to the genre, the most immediate and exciting improvement is its compatibility with “real instruments," thereby offering budding musicians an exciting interactive platform on which to learn.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to dust off the Fender Stratocaster that’s been sitting in the attic for years and simply plug it in. Instead, a range of custom instruments are supplied or offered as add-ons. The new ‘Pro mode’ allows you to play songs note-for-note and is available for all instrument types including the existing drum controller, a new keyboard, and a new guitar controller with six individual nylon-coated steel strings.

The Fender Mustang-Pro guitar will be available separately for US$149.99 and has 17 frets to offer a total of 102 individual notes. Drums have been upgraded with support for a double-bass pedal and new cymbal attachments, and a wireless keyboard controller (US$79.99) adds a new dimension to group play.

Both the keyboard and guitar are MIDI-compatible, and if you already have a MIDI keyboard or drum set, it’s possible to use it with the game via the optional MIDI PRO-adapter (US$39.99).

Rock Band 3 will come with 83 new tracks and is compatible with its predecessors and all downloaded songs. All of the previous improvements are carried forward, including the ability to recruit any combination of seven instruments at once, and it’s now possible to create and save playlists of your favorite tracks.

Harmonix hasn’t confirmed a release date for the new game yet, but it is expected at some point in 2010 in a range of bundle assortments.

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