For a short period of time, Rock Band (or Guitar Hero) was a reason to get together and have a party. There was nothing better than a night that consisted of a case of beer and a few fools pretending to be Bon Jovi in someone’s living room. It was the ultimate role-playing game, fulfilling people’s latent fantasies of being a performer and then it all crashed and burned. People sold or in most cases, junked their collection of plastic instruments (for the record I still have all mine) and moved on to either new games or completely different things.
Rock Band still has name recognition and people have spent tons of money buying the continuing stream of downloadable content. So, in an effort to revitalize the brand, developer Harmonix has unleashed Rock Band Blitz upon the world and it’s different to say the least. Rock Band Blitz diverges from past Rock Band console games in two major ways, it’s primarily a single player game and it’s played with a standard controller.
In fact, Rock Band Blitz is closer in form and functionality to the portable versions of Rock Band on the iOS and PSP than it is to a fully featured Rock Band game. My wife even asked me why I was playing a mobile version of Rock Band on my television. However, even that is not truly a fair comparison because Rock Band Blitz is an arcade game at its core with a strong focus on score chasing.
Played with just four buttons, Blitz tasks players with switching between four and sometimes five different instrument tracks and playing the notes as they come down the highway. Unlike past Rock Band titles, Blitz only has two notes per track and playing the notes is exactly as one would expect, timing button presses to the proper notes. Playing a certain number of notes on a given track will boost that track’s score multiplier up to three times on each segment of a song. However the game forces players to play other tracks by locking the max multiplier at three above the lowest; so getting the multipliers on all the tracks leveled up is of utmost importance to increasing one’s score.
Blitz also introduces some other little wrinkles to the formula with the inclusion of power-ups. Power-ups are earned by gaining cred and spending coins – in essence experience points and money for playing past songs – and they come in three different varieties. Overdrive power-ups are activated by collecting overdrive, via special white notes, and then deploying it for a limited time with a button press. These power ups include simple point doubling to rockets that clear a section of the track for you providing huge point bonuses if deployed correctly. Note power-ups are activated by hitting a special purple note on a track which will cause something to happen, be it notes catching on fire or a giant pinball that needs to be kept in play. And finally track power-ups are track specific multipliers that boost the score value of a specific instrument. Utilizing these power-ups is essential to maximizing one’s score but personally I found myself only using the overdrive and track power-ups because they offered the best score output for coins spent.
The game comes with 25 songs, all of which are entirely exportable into Rock Band 3. The fact that you can import the 25 Blitz songs into Rock Band 3 is a great boon for those still playing that game and makes Blitz a no brainer as a pick up. And For longtime players of the Rock Band series, all songs except those included on Rock Band 3 (and The Beatles: Rock Band) are importable into Blitz, meaning over 3000 songs, including DLC, are instantly available to play in the game provided you have the songs.
While Rock Band Blitz is a ton of fun to play, provided you are in the right mindset, it is also not without its problems. Aesthetically Rock Band Blitz is bland looking, as every song is played on what appears to be the same exact highway. When playing the game it is not very noticeable, as you are focusing on the notes, but when watching someone else play it is quite a letdown. Because the backdrops are all the same, there is no character customization and without it, the game loses a bit of that Rock Band flavor. And the less said about the menu system the better, simply put it has the worst menu navigation of any of the previous Rock Band games.
The biggest issue with Blitz though is that Rock Band is inherently a social experience and is infinitely less fun playing by oneself. Blitz does some cool social networking, linking via Rock Band World on Facebook and having smart leaderboard integration, but unless you have friends playing Blitz those hooks are worthless. When it boils down, Rock Band Blitz is a fun little arcade game and well worth a go if you already are into Rock Band but less so if this is your first foray.
- Pure arcade fun
- Blitz songs can import into Rock Band 3
- Past Rock Band songs can import into Blitz
- Power-ups look pretty cool
- Cool social hooks
- A tad bland looking
- No Rock Band 3 import option
- Social hooks require friends to be playing the game as well
4 / 5
Note: This review was done using the Xbox 360 version of the game. It is also available on the Playstation 3.