Dear Rock Band: the hours you've taken from young children, teaching them to play plastic instruments instead of real ones is probably wrong is some way. Think of how many awesome new punk or emo bands there could be if not for the lure of video game bands. You really should do something about that, you know, maybe try and teach gamers how they could apply what they've learnt from your games to real life. What's that? You have?!

All kidding aside, when we had a chance to take a look at Rock Band 3, we were amazed at how much time, effort and thought had gone into making a whole new experience, and not just new plastic guitars and a different set list of songs.

The biggest thing people should know about Rock Band 3 is that you can use real instruments to play along. Harmonix has spent two years developing a guitar that can work with Rock Band and any drums or keyboard that are MIDI compatible can also be used. What does that mean? It means you can jam along with your friends on a real instrument, or even use Rock Band to help you learn how to play your favourite songs. You also have the ability to switch to a realistic mode that, although you're still using the plastic 'fake' instruments, the manner in which you play the songs will be 'exportable' to real instruments. An example shown was how if you learned a song on the Rock Band 3 keyboard, you could play it in such a manner that if you learned it well enough and sat down at a real piano, you would be able to play it much the same. These new features alone set Rock Band 3 head and shoulders above its predecessors as well as its rivals.

Rock Band will feature 83 songs on day one, with bands such as Metric, Phoenix and Queen, as well as being backwards compatible, meaning you can play all your songs from previous Rock Bands. This new version will support up to seven players, meaning you really can have a Rock Band party, and will also feature a new karaoke mode, should you and your friends feeling like belting out some tunes. A new character creator as well as downloadable set lists, party shuffle and two to four hour challenges make Rock Band 3 the most group friendly version of Rock Band yet. These new additions create the ideal game for groups of friends that just want to have a good time.

All this being said, Rock Band 3 finally has given the consumer a reason to get excited about buying more plastic instruments. The new guitar included actually has frets and like the keyboard, will help teach you to play a real guitar. When you finally get a chance to see all these new features at work, you'll understand why we nominated Rock Band 3 for most innovative game at E3.

Rock Band 3 will be available Holiday 2010 and is sure to be a blockbuster, so if your kids are asking for it for Christmas, you'll want to get to the store early.