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I do not currently own any consoles, but Rock Band 3 looks so appealing for me that I am considering buying a console solely for that game. Discounting Nintendo DS, the game supports PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii.

Naturally I've been looking at the cheapest console - the Wii - as the leading option; however I've heard that it behaves differently in regard to downloadable songs than the other two, so I would really love to hear the pros and cons of different consoles regarding this specific game. Is there a difference in image/sound quality? Do the instruments behave the same? How are DLCs managed? etc.

Additionally, my country is covered neither by PlayStation Network nor by Xbox Live; does it affect downloadable songs distribution? Is digital distribution through the Wii also limited by country?

EDIT: I also know there's a variety of different Xbox models. Is there any concrete difference in how these models will play Rock Band 3?

EDIT 2: I would like to stress that whether it's possible to somehow connect to the online network is important for me. I've also seen some consoles sold with very small storage capability - 4GB or even 256MB; Are those sufficient for playing the game + getting some DLC songs?

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Last I knew, the 360 4gig and the Wii had equivalent prices, at least in the US... –  Raven Dreamer Oct 31 '10 at 17:19
    
@Raven you're right, some older Xbox versions are around the same price, it's just that I heard bad things about red rings of doom. I've edited my question to also refer to differences between them regarding this game. –  Oak Oct 31 '10 at 18:54
    
Unless you have children, or money is an issue, I would recommend PS3 or Xbox even if the only game you intend to play is Rockband since they replace DVD player and the PS3 replaces the blu-ray. Unfortunately I don't know anything about whether or not you can actually buy songs. –  Mechko Nov 1 '10 at 15:02
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Somewhat Related. Good luck in your search! –  Jamie Schembri Nov 2 '10 at 10:11

11 Answers 11

up vote 7 down vote accepted
+200

I'll try and tackle all parts of your question in the order that they were listed.

Hardware capabilities:

Graphics: In this respect, the PS3/Xbox 360 are better as both consoles support resolutions up to 1080p, while the Wii is capable of a mere 480p (and that's SD as opposed to HD). Resolution aside, the PS3/Xbox 360 also have superior processors which obviously allow for better looking games. With Rock Band 3 in mind, just compare this (PS3/Xbox screenshot, as the game looks more or less the same on both) with this (Wii screenshot).

Sound: Other than the hands-on differences mentioned in Jason's answer, consider the following fact: Both PS3 and Xbox 360 are capable of digital audio output, while the Wii is, as far as I understand, only capable of Stereo output (not owning a Wii, I rely on the manual, specifically pages 6 and 8, and this support page stating the console is capable of simulated surround sound).

Instruments:

This is something I know very little of, but browsing through the official shop makes it look like there are plenty controllers available on all platforms, all looking more or less the same, at least physically.

DLC:

All consoles are capable of downloading additional songs (see the official instructions for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii). The only consideration is storage space, so I wouldn't recommend something with just 256 MB of it, as I assume (couldn't find specifics) that new songs will weigh about as much as they did in previous games (~40 MB).

I read on the official site (though the link eludes me) that songs on the Wii are stored in SD cards, so there's no need to worry about the Wii's limited storage capabilities.

Just remember that the region of the game you purchase (NTSC/PAL) will most likely force you to buy DLCs with a corresponding region. I know this for a fact on the PS3, and imagine it is the same on the other consoles.

Finally, I don't know whether all song DLCs will be available on all platforms, but I doubt anyone knows that for a fact.

Installation:

I do not know if Rock Band 3 requires any sort of installation before playing, but even if it did it could only be mandatory on the PS3, as Xbox 360 should never have mandatory installs (as there were models that had no storage at all. I am unaware if that policy has changed, however) and the Wii hardly has any storage capacity to make an install worthwhile.

Assuming a mandatory install on the PS3, I have never seen one go beyond 5GB, roughly.

Online Service:

Using PSN or Xbox live is not a real issue even in countries which do not support it (more so if all you want is to buy DLC, but multiplayer should also work). In both cases, simply lie about where you live in order to get yourself registered to the service. Since buying things through said services requires you to have a credit card matching your declared place of residence, you'll simply have to use prepaid cards, which are available for both PSN and Xbox 360.

While I know less about the Wii's online service, I do know that it is also not supported where I live, and that the process for buying things is more or less identical (prepaid cards are also available for purchasing Wii points).

This means that the DLC songs available to you will have nothing to do with where you live, but rather with which shop you register to (this is determined by where you declare you live).

Xbox models:

Essentially, all Xbox models have the same capabilities hardware-wise, though newer models are easier to connect to televisions/receivers (older models didn't have HDMI output, if I recall correctly).

Seeing how Xbox live is not officially available in your country, I would guess that the Xbox 360 is not officially sold there as well, meaning you should avoid cases where you have to exercise your warranty. Older Xbox 360s are renowned for breaking down left and right, so you should opt for buying newer models. The new "slim" model (the one that looks like this) is sure to be less disaster prone. Older looking models also had a hardware revision which made them more robust, but telling those apart is trickier. Should the need arise, there are guides and I'm sure you'll be able to find one.

Assuming you don't want to worry about space, I'd also avoid the 4GB model (though using some bad math, you should be able to squeeze around 100 songs on that).

Bottom line:

Rock Band 3 will run more or less the same on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and will look and sound bad on the Wii (which rather beats the purpose, if you ask me). I would therefore recommend either PS3 or Xbox 360, but the choice is entirely up to you and is comprised of how much each device costs, and which extra features appeal the most to you. Some things to consider are each console's game catalog, media capabilities and even the possible purchase of the PS3's move controllers or Xbox's Kinect.

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Many good answers, accepted this for explaining graphics / sound issues and mentioning prepaid cards and region limitations. –  Oak Nov 10 '10 at 9:36
    
-1: You stated the Wii game will not sound as well as the PS3/XBox versions. But then, in the Bottom line, you outright state it will sound bad. Why? –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Jun 13 '11 at 15:13
    
@Adriano: Because bottom lines tend to be more decisive? I assume I could have written "not as good" instead, but I don't think it would have changed the tone of my answer. –  Aubergine Jun 13 '11 at 20:16
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well, there's a big difference between "bad" and "not as good" in this case. Bad implies it's not playable, at least for me. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Jun 13 '11 at 20:18

It's an old question, but I might as well add something no one has touched on yet...

If you're looking to play online with other people, don't get a Wii. Almost no one goes online anymore. Xbox 360 is the most popular console for this game and therefore has the largest number of online players and the largest number of people on the in-game leaderboards.

Also, you can't play custom songs on the PS3 without jailbreaking the system. You don't even have to mod the Xbox to get custom songs to work. If you're interested in that sort of thing, the PS3 isn't a good option.

Also, the wii version doesn't have any patches like the Xbox and PS3 versions do. That means the wii version is a little glitchier, and you can't use a kick pedal to activate overdrive like you can with the other consoles.

Source: Wii user switching over to the Xbox.

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Living in a household with 3 360s, 2 Wii's and 1 PS3, the Wii's get the least use for other games. Its library is light weight and we don't find compelling reasons to pull it out and play it.

Wii Sports used to be our party game, but Rock Band has taken over that roll since it came out in 2007.

As I understand it Xbox's Live, even though you have to pay for it, is a far superior experience to the PS's Home.

OTOH, if you have a HD setup and don't have a Blu-Ray player I think the PS is the clear choice (coming from a 360 partisan and owner).

A hard drive is a must as the RB2 import (which I would suggest you for should you find you love the game) is a 1.9 GB download--and the 4 GB 360 would just get blown away by it.

In our house, the 360 which everyone plays RB3 on has over 500 songs, including RB1, RB2, Lego Rock Band, Green Day and the Country pack. Over time, if you enjoy music, you will find that you have many, many songs download (I believe our system is more than 500 songs and probably over 5 GB of game data (IE songs)).

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Two things I'll add that no one else has mentioned:

First: I have found that lyrics are a lot easier for the vocalist to read in HD. In general, there is a little less strain on the eyes in HD, particularly when the screen gets crowded with guitar, bass, drum, and keyboard parts.

Second: Regarding your edit about 360 versions, just make sure to go with a version that has a hard drive.

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Yeah, the lyrics can be difficult to see on the Wii. –  Jason Berkan Nov 5 '10 at 0:29
    
I thought all versions had a hard drive? There's a new XBox with just 4GB, is that not large enough? –  Oak Nov 7 '10 at 7:42
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@Oak: used to be the Core/Arcade SKUs didn't have any storage. The new lower-end model has 4GB internal flash memory, but that won't go very far with Rock Band DLC –  Kip Nov 8 '10 at 13:50

Is it really impossible to use Playstation Network or XBox Live in your country? My country isn't (or wasn't, in XBox Live case) supported by them, but that only affects technical support, not the use. I used an US-based XBox Live account and bought Microsoft Points through prepaid cards, which can be found on eBay. It worked fine to buy Rock Band songs.

Regarding online distribution, in XBox Live it is possible to buy songs (using Microsoft Points) via web, and on http://www.rockband.com there's always links to buy the songs. In Rock Band 2, it can be a little awkward to locate the specific music you want to buy through the game. Maybe they have improved that on 3, but I don't know.

Aside from that, everything else regarding Rock Band is similar between Playstation 3 and XBox 360. Any other decision must be made considering external factors. Playstation 3 has a Blu-Ray player, XBox 360 can be found for $200, each system's exclusive games, and so on.

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Very interesting regarding the using prepaid cards for buying points. This question demonstrates it's possible at least with the PlayStation; however, could you explain what are the requirements for opening a "US-based XBox Live account"? Do I need a valid US address or something? In addition, the other answer warns of DLC region restrictions, which makes me worried. –  Oak Nov 7 '10 at 7:41
    
Yes, I have used an US address. I'm not sure about DLC region issues, though. I only play games from the US, so every DLC content I bought worked fine. –  Wilerson Nov 8 '10 at 18:22

I have only owned Rock Band 2 on the Wii, but a major gripe I have is a lack of available content and hardware.

For content: the Wii does not have access to new Rock Band Network songs as they are released. Most of my enjoyment of Rock Band comes from playing the songs that I know. But when Jonathan Coulton, for instance, releases new songs I'm out of luck and can only hope that they'll some day get ported to the Wii.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Band_Network

For hardware: maybe this is just my experience and/or region, but I cannot find Rock Band Wii hardware in stores or online. It was a major battle to purchase the set in the first place, and I have given up trying to find an extra vanilla Rock Band guitar. By contrast I see Xbox guitars on shelves all the time.

So my experience suggests that Wii is a second-class citizen when it comes to Rock Band and although I don't currently own an Xbox 360 I am strongly considering buying one just for Rock Band 3. I am of course making the assumption that my current experience with the Rock Band franchise and the Wii will not change much in the near future. Since I imagine my frustrations are ultimately due to business and manufacturing decisions, I think that's a reasonable assumption.

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+1 for the RBN issue. –  Jason Berkan Nov 4 '10 at 6:22

As far as Rock Band 2 goes, the graphics aren't that different between the PS3/XBOX360 (which are pretty much similar) and Wii : the main difference is in HD, frame rate and lighting effects. The core of the game is identical (same gameplay, features, song list, etc.), except for download content (which is way better on PS3/XBOX360 than on Wii), and most difference are directly tied to the console's raw power (on the Wii, loading times are longer, the crowd won't sing along, you can't put makeup or self-made tattoos on your characters and you cannot make your own band logos). Rock Band 3 follows a similar model.

If you plan on getting Rock Band (one), you should definitely go for PS3/XBOX360, as the Wii version is completely watered down and you can't transfer the songs from on game to the other (which is possible with the two other consoles). The same goes for download content.

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While every opther answer here has a few good points there are some other factors that they haven't adressed. For what it's worth, I own a full rig on the 360 and have only played twice on the PS3. I have only played Beatles on the Wii.

The main thing that you need to worry about with rock band is the DLC. As you aren't covered by either the PSN or Live, if you get a 360 or ps3 you are going to have to buy the suplimental disks. While these are a discount over buying the songs from live, you have to buy the whole thing so you don't have as much choice about which particular ones you get. On top of that, without Live, you can't transfer the songs off the discs themeslves so you will have to switch disks there too.

Basically, without live or the psn, none of the consoles are offering you anything above the others except prettier graphics at greater expense. If you can deal with the Wii's terrible graphics and the lack of crowd participation, then I would grab that one, otherwise I would grab whichever is cheaper for you.

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Most of my reply will be based on Rock Band 2, since I haven't had the chance to play Rock Band 3 yet.

First of all, there is a graphical and sound difference between the Xbox 360/PS3 versions and the Wii version. Personally, I don't care about the graphics in a rhythm game, but others might, and obviously the Wii does not have the graphical output that the other systems have.

The sound difference is not in the song, but in the additional sounds in the song. In the Xbox 360/PS3 version, when you are doing well, you can hear the crowd start singing along with the song. In the Wii, all you hear is the song exactly as it was recorded. Whether that bothers you or not is a personal preference.

The gameplay between all the versions is identical. However, a deficiency with the Wii is that the controllers are not cross compatible with Guitar Hero, so you are stuck playing only the Rock Band series.

Finally, with regards to DLC, one disadvantage on the Wii is that you cannot copy songs from other versions of Rock Band in order to create a single library of songs to play. If you want to play the Rock Band 1 or Rock Band 2 songs, you have to actually play the older game.

I'm afraid I don't know anything about whether access to Xbox Live or PSN is required for downloading songs. On the Wii, it is all handled from inside the game, but it does require you to have Nintendo Points, so you will need access to the Wii Shop Channel to redeem those.

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Actually, according to this - rockband.com/support/export-rock-band - there is a limited number of cases where you can export tracks to the Wii. –  Aubergine Nov 9 '10 at 14:10
    
@Aubergine - Cool. So you can export the Rock Band 2 songs for use in Rock Band 3 on the Wii. Nice to know. –  Jason Berkan Nov 10 '10 at 4:38

Typically you choose the console based on the exclusive titles, and buy any non-exclusive titles for a console you already own, so you're basically going about this backwards. Granted, there are other things to consider as well, but we'll stick with the exclusives for the moment. Are you planning on getting any of the Uncharted or InFamous titles? Get a PS3. Halo? Get a 360. Mario? Get a Wii. Since you're looking primarily at RB3, this is obviously less of an issue.

Specifically for RB3, the PS3 will be as good or better than the 360, which will easily be better than the Wii both in terms of graphics and sound. Differences between the 360 and PS3 will be small, and typically imperceptible.

Next thing to consider is value propositions. The Wii is the least powerful of the three consoles, and can't do HD. Also, motion controls aren't exclusive to the Wii anymore. XBox Live Gold, which is required for many features like Netflix streaming and online play, cost something on the order of $60/year. If you're fine with the PS3 exclusive library (which has improved a fair amount in the past couple of years) and can live without XBox 360 and Wii exclusives, it offers some of the best bang per buck. Netflix streaming doesn't require anything beyond a Netflix subscription, and does it in 1080p (soon if not now), and has a built in BluRay player. Online play is free (for now), and graphics are as good or better than the 360. Finally, the harddrive is a standard laptop SATA drive. The only real downside that I can pin against the PS3 is that Sony has been removing feature through software for existing owners (no other OS anymore) and hardware for new buyers.

To sum up, Wii for exclusive titles and if you don't care about HD, PS3 if you don't already own a BluRay player or want to play online for free, otherwise, get a 360.

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Interesting answer, particularly regarding high-def, I haven't thought of that. Free online play and Netflix are moot points for me, however, since I don't think I will be able to access PlayStation Network, and I assume it's required for these to work. –  Oak Oct 31 '10 at 20:29
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-1 because you spend most of this answer talking about things he said he didn't care about. The question was about things related to the game. You do very little of that... –  tzenes Oct 31 '10 at 20:36
    
@tzenes The differences between the different console versions are so small that they're inconsequential compared to the features of the consoles themselves. I would hate to have someone buy a Wii just because they can use their Mii in game. In this case, the other value propositions are definitely worth considering, and without all the details, you can't make an informed decision. –  MBraedley Oct 31 '10 at 21:11
    
if the differences are minor, then that's the information that is important. What is so wrong with someone buying a Wii just to use their Mii in Rockband? If he doesn't care about multiplayer, then why should the price of Xbox Live influence his decision. I think there can be value added in an answer, I just think you've taken it too far in comparing other parts of the console. –  tzenes Oct 31 '10 at 21:32
    
There's a great page at Wikipedia (shortened URL due to parsing problem) detailing console exclusives. I recently went down the list and created one of my own for the games I'd like to play, finally deciding on a PS3. The process is enlightening. Also keep in mind that the PS3 and Xbox 360 share the majority of their catalogue, whereas the Wii is aimed at a different market entirely. –  Jamie Schembri Nov 2 '10 at 10:16

From my understanding, Rock Band 3 is basically the same on both the PS3 and Xbox 360.

One downside regarding the Wii version is that the Wii has very limited storage space available. It has 512MB built in (not all of which is usable, IIRC), and while you can buy SD cards to use for storage (up to 2GB), I don't know if Rock Band can load songs directly from an SD card or not.

IMO, I would suggest getting either the PS3 or Xbox 360 version. As for which, I'd say look at other games you'd want to play that are only available on one console or the other, and go with that one.

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Rock Band does load (and save) the songs directly from the SD card. There is a small delay when you start the downloaded songs, but nothing too bad. And Rock Band 3 works with the SDHC cards the Wii supports, so you can put a 32GB SD card in. –  Jason Berkan Oct 31 '10 at 20:47

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