Game Review

Rock Band Blitz Review

Rock Band Blitz Review

It seems like only yesterday Rock Band changed the way we viewed music games. No longer were they a solo exercise of challenge and an ever continuing struggle for the next higher score. The music game became something social, to be enjoyed with friends at a party.

Today, music rhythm games have lost their relevance, due in large part to an over-saturation of the market and eventually was replaced with dancing games like Just Dance and Harmonix’s own Dance Central. Despite this fact, Harmonix is getting the band back together and goes back on tour with a traditional controller only, aka no plastic instruments, music game with a renewed focus on solo, frantic arcade action, and the continuing pursuit of high scores. Veterans of music games will no doubt enjoy the new hardcore arcade focus and Rock Band fans can now enjoy their already existing libraries of music in a new refreshing way.

Rock Band Blitz’s opening screen introduces the player to the recommendation page, a list of suggestions designed to keep the player from agonizing on what songs to play and provides direction. The first two recommendations are the tutorial songs outlining the important basics of Rock Band Blitz.

Switching Instrument Tracks: Unlike the main Rock Band games, players can’t just play one instrument. Using the left and right bumper, players have to switch between each instrument and give attention to every instrument in the song.

Combos: Players must interact and switch between all the instrument track in the song to build up a combo multiplier. The combo can increase three times before reaching the end of a section of a song, where it resets and you get the chance to increase the multiplayer by three again. This requires an understanding of what instruments are important when, and prevents the player from focusing on one instrument track in the song.

Power Ups: Before playing a song, the player can choose 3 power-ups, one from each category, overdrive power-ups, note power-ups, and instrument bonuses. Overdrive power-ups are player controlled deployables awarded for filling the overdrive meter, note power-up are random notes that are scattered throughout the song that activate as soon as they are hit, and instrument bonuses are a preselected bonus that is awarded for a particular instrument or timing you lane switches with the song. Each power-up can dramatically change how a song is played and how high you can score. My personal favorite is the pinball which lets a pinball loose on the track and awards points for every note it hits as it bounces around.

Blitz Mode: If the player maintains a streak of notes, you enter blitz mode, rewarding the player bonus points for every 10th note you hit.

Rock Band Blitz is not without it’s flaws. Unlike previous Rock Band games, there is no player selected difficulty setting for a song, instead, each song has it’s own set predetermined difficulty. This however is not a major deal because of two factors: Firstly, you can’t fail out of a song for doing badly, and secondly, songs tracks only have two notes each rather than the five or four the main Rock Band games have; as a result, the focus is on streaks, high scores and managing power ups, rather than challenging finger contortions.  Rock Band 3 songs are also not supported, due to a lack of an export option. So, if you are like me, there is a very good chance that most of your songs wont have a keyboard track to play on.

My other major complaint is the Facebook integration and coins system. Instead of having a in-game challenge mode, players have to go to the Rock Band World Facebook app, and pick your goals and partner with friends to complete them. As far as I could tell, there is no way to manage those goals in-game and the Facebook integration can be charitably as forced.

Your reward for completing Facebook goals, score wars and songs is coins. This currency is used to purchase your power-up load-out before each song. For a good player who normally can 5 star a song, they wont have to worry much about coins since they will usually be awarded enough to buy what they want for the next song.  More casual players will find that they may run out of coins and will either have to keep doing challenges of Facebook (again, that takes you away from the game) or play songs without the power-ups, makes the game oddly restrictive and punishing against less skilled players. Basically, imagine playing multiplayer Call of Duty and not being allowed to use your perks for a couple of rounds for not having a good kill/death ratio.

Pros:

  • A 25 pack of songs are included for use in Rock Band 3 and Rock Band Blitz
  • Fun new way to play songs from your existing library of Rock Band Songs
  • Brings the Music game genre away from social/multiplayer gaming back to it’s arcade score focused roots
  • Clever and diverse mix of power ups can dramatically change how you approach each song.
  • Supports all Rock Band DLC and Rock Band Network Songs

 Cons:

  • Real time multiplayer and Challenges are replaced with Score Wars and Goals using a Facebook App outside the game
  • The Arcade score attack focus may put off casual Rock Band Fans
  • Rock Band 3 on disk songs are not supported.
Problems aside, Rock Band Blitz is a tough game to explain, but once you understand the basics, it can be a lot of fun. Fans of the Rock Band franchise should definitely check it out, if for nothing else, but to score 25 great songs for their Rock Band 3 game as well as a new way to play the songs they already own.
As a stand-alone game, Rock Band Blitz is a fantastic and affordable solo music rhythm game experience with a seemingly endless supply of content available right from the start.
  
Platform:XBLA, PSN  | Publisher: Harmonix Music Systems| Developer: Harmonix Music Systems | Category: Music Rhythm
Release Date: August 28th 2012 PSN, August 29th, 2012 XBLA