I’ve spent the past week playing the upcoming Rock Band Blitz from Harmonix on Xbox Live, and let me tell you, I can not get enough of this game. I’ve easily spent upwards of 50+ hours of the last week on Rock Band Blitz alone. I’ve even given up temporarily on a few other games because my old college Rock Band addiction was starting to come back. Five years after Rock Band made its debut, and nearly two years after Rock Band 3, Harmonix has created a blend of its classic Frequency/Amplitude titles and its current visual styling and popular music theme of its Rock Band franchise. No guitar, bass, drum, keyboard, or microphone here; Rock Band Blitz is fully controller-based, and it works.
So now you know where Rock Band Blitz came from, and what its influences are. What is so new about this game that has me glued to my TV for days on end, making sure my scores stay strong and don’t get beat? Part of it is the simple fact that I have always been a big fan of the Rock Band games, and this is, even without the peripherals, a Rock Band game. When I first heard about the title and saw the announcement footage, though, I was skeptical. I had grown so used to playing with a plastic guitar, banging away on a drum set, tapping on a keyboard, or singing into a microphone that thinking of using a controller to play Rock Band seemed crazy. I got to see a little bit of gameplay at PAX East this year, but I didn’t have time to really see what I was missing out on.
When I first booted up the game, I wasn’t sure what to expect, coming from using peripherals to using a controller. After a quick loading period, which downloaded the song pack for Rock Band Blitz and cataloged my previously purchased Rock Band DLC, I arrived at the menu. The UI is very clean and easy to navigate, with song list elements that will feel very familiar to people who have played previous Rock Band titles. Using RT/LT, you can switch tabs and look at different things. Want to check your messages and keep track of your Score Wars? There’s a tab for that. Want to see your full song list? There’s a tab for that. Want to see recommended songs/score wars? There’s a tab for that, too!
Rock Band Blitz is focused on scores. You can’t fail a song, aside from simply failing to achieve an awesome enough score to beat your friends. The basic scoring of a Rock Band game is still here; successfully playing notes earns you higher and higher scores as you level up each of your instruments. The better you do in a song, the more coins and Blitz Credit you earn. Blitz Credit unlocks power-ups, and coins are used to fuel power-ups with each use. The strategic use of power-ups is the key to helping you nail the 5 stars for a song, or beat your friends’ scores.
In the game, each song has 4-5 lanes of play, depending on what instruments are active in each song. From left to right, you have a lane for drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and possibly keyboards. Each lane is split into two sub-lanes, and each sub-lane can/will have notes on it. You can jump from lane to lane in order to improve the instrument multiplier (as seen on the left of the screenshot above, as well as on each lane). Part of the strategy is to make sure that you improve the multiplier evenly across all of your lanes. As the song progresses, you come up on checkpoints. At each checkpoint, your level cap is increased by the smallest overall increase you managed since the last checkpoint. If you got four of your lanes up by 3 levels, but your fifth lane only went up by 1 level, then your level cap only increases by 1, and your score potential until the next checkpoint becomes very limited.
I mentioned Score Wars earlier. What is a Score War, you ask? Think of it as issuing a challenge to a friend. A bit of smack talk. You have a set period of time for both players to get the highest score possible on the song in question. Once the time limit is done, the person with the highest song score wins a big prize of coins and Credit, while the loser gets a small consolation prize of coins and Credit. I’ve got about eleven Score Wars going on at the moment. I’ve won a few of them so far, but my buddy Shaun Norton kicked my butt hard in the most recent one. I’ll have my revenge! Score Wars is definitely a great way of keeping players glued to the TV and coming back to the game regularly. The Recommended tab will recommend certain songs against certain friends for Score Wars, but to manually select the combination, you need to use the Rock Band World Facebook application.
Rock Band World lets you issue Score War challenges to anyone, whether they are on your friends list or not. Additionally, you can sign up for up to 10 goals at a time. What are the goals, and why sign up for them? Power-ups in Rock Band Blitz cost you coins every time you use them. You can help build up your stash of coins by completing Rock Band World goals, which award you with coins for goal completion. They are as simple as playing a single New Wave song to as advanced as having to play five mystery songs with specific requirements that are hinted at. Some must be played solo, while others can be completed with the help of a group of friends.
Overall, Rock Band Blitz is a huge hit in my book. Harmonix has done it again, in this digital XBLA/PSN title. It has brought back my addiction to buying tracks, while offering countless hours of gameplay, major replay value, and a large pre-existing library of songs to jump in to. I have family and friends stealing my Xbox to have time with it, and I have messages going back and forth about beating scores! Is the game worth buying? Absolutely. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise or a newcomer, Rock Band Blitz is definitely a game to check out. It is available tomorrow on PSN ($14.99), and Wednesday on XBLA (1200MSP).
Rock Band Blitz was provided for review purposes from Harmonix. For more information on the game, please visit www.rockband.com.
[learn_more caption=”Review Results”][one_half]Pros:
- Addicting gameplay
- Brings 25 new songs, playable in Rock Band 3
- Plays all Rock Band downloadable songs
- Allows linking to Rock Band World on Facebook for goals and challenges
- Major replay value[/custom_list][/one_half]
- More power-ups would be great
- Achievements asking for 300 songs, etc, require purchasing DLC and can’t be completed with someone simply buying Rock Band Blitz
- There is no way to delete old messages in the inbox, so they pile up
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.[/learn_more]