UPDATE: Exclusive Hands-On With Rock Band 3's Piano Challenge Pack

by Matt Miller on Mar 18, 2011 at 10:05 AM

UPDATE: Read our impressions of the newly announced "Billy Joel Piano Challenge" pack, and find out if you were one of twenty lucky song download code winners. 

Harmonix reached out a few days ago to tell us about some upcoming and heretofore unannounced DLC tracks. While there's been a steady flow of strong DLC in recent months, the new pack stands out as a major addition for the keyboard enthusiasts out there. As one of the new instruments introduced for the first time in Rock Band 3, it's always exciting to hear about some strong support on the way in DLC. To help celebrate, we gave away 20 download codes to readers who commented on this story. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see who won.

The new "Billy Joel Piano Challenge" pack includes six Billy Joel songs that represent some of the most challenging keyboard play yet seen in the game. The songs are entirely new to Rock Band 3, and distinct from the Billy Joel tracks that released late last year.

The new pack includes the following six songs, all of which will release on March 22nd for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii.

•    "I Go to Extremes"
•    "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)"
•    "My Life"
•    "Prelude/Angry Young Man" X
•    "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"
•    "She's Always a Woman"

The whole pack will run you $9.99, or you can get each song individually for $2 apiece. As denoted by the "X", "Prelude/Angry Young Man" also has available pro guitar/pro bass support for an extra $0.99.

The new pack shines as a fantastic addition for players who want more compelling keyboard parts for Rock Band 3. We played through each song on both normal and pro keys, and came away confident that the "challenge" description is entirely accurate. A couple of the songs on Expert are sufficiently complex to demand some real attention. The highly lyrical and melodic vocal melodies are also a blast to sing through, if you plan on plugging in a microphone. While there are some fun guitar, bass, and drum parts, it's hard to recommend this pack if you're not going to either sing or play keyboard -- that's where the songs really shine.

"Miami 2017 (See the Lights Go Out On Broadway)" and "My Life" both deliver high energy numbers with great lead piano lines. If you're just starting to dig in on these new tracks, we recommend starting here, as they'll get you a feel for Joel's chord-heavy piano rock style without completely throwing you into the deep end.  From there, you're heading into the rough stuff. "I Go To Extremes" has a ramp up from beginning to end, culminating in some crazy variations on the theme in the last minute of the song. "She's Always A Woman" offers a unique glimpse into just how hard a soft piano ballad can be. "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" is the endurance horse of the six -- over seven minutes of difficult keyboard work. And when you're really ready to see how fast your fingers can move, go ahead and put "Prelude/Angry Young Man" on Expert pro keys and see how it goes.

Taken together, the new songs are a lot of fun, and represent some of Joel's most interesting back catalog from his decades as a best-selling artist.

To help you get started on the new songs, we're offering 20 downloadable song tokens for Rock Band 3 on Xbox 360. Let us know your favorite keyboard song in Rock Band 3 and why you love it in the comments section below. Alternately, tell us which of the six new Billy Joel songs you'll download first, and why. We'll read through your comments and randomly send twenty respondents a private site message with a code sometime on Friday, March 18th. Needless to say, if you want to use your codes for the new Billy Joel songs, you'll need to wait until March 22nd. Good luck!

UPDATE: Here are the 20 winners (in alphabetical order), each of whom received an Xbox 360 download code for a song in Rock Band 3. If you're on the list, you should have an email sent to the account connected to your GI profile. You can also check your in-site "Conversations" to retrieve your code. Thanks to everyone who participated. Because of your enthusiasm, we'll be trying whenever we can to give out more free download codes in the future.

Code Winners

Cory Barnes
Daniel Greco
Dr. Hans
Joel Vega
Manuel Montes
Neil Merschbrock