‘Rock Band’ goes single-player
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 22:09
In the year 2012, the “Rock Band” franchise is all but over. Although the first two games were hits, overexposure, too many games and too expensive peripherals made sure that after “The Beatles Rock Band,” the game’s sales plummeted. The gaming market simply moved on. Harmonix, the game’s developer who recently bought the “Rock Band” name back, has been releasing downloadable content for five years now, but it seemed like the franchise simply couldn’t continue without a publisher.
Enter “Rock Band Blitz.” When someone without too much “Rock Band” experience buys the $15 game off PSN or Xbox Live Arcade, they get a completely different experience than the original game’s instrument lines. In each “Rock Band” song, the data allows for five instrument lines, including guitar, bass, drums, vocals and keyboards, and they’re each played on corresponding fake plastic instruments. “Rock Band Blitz” takes these five individual tracks and places them right next to each other. They have also changed the tracks into simple two-button combos on a regular controller. Players must tap the stick and A (or shoulder buttons in “Freakish” mode) in time with these tracks.
Without downloadable content, “Blitz” is only worth about $15. There are 25 songs included with the game, with some newer pop songs’ debuts including “We Are Young,” “Pumped Up Kicks” and “Moves Like Jagger” plus older songs that some consider classics and others love to hate, like Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” and Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl.” These songs can be played in “Rock Band 3,” and almost all previous “Rock Band” songs can be imported into “Blitz” in turn.
The 25 songs aren’t too amazing, but they work well with “Blitz.” The two-button, precision-timing rhythm game is based around chasing high scores, and it generally works. The point of the game is to rack up high scores (on a 5-star “Rock Band” scale) by hitting notes, jumping from track to track and raising multipliers on each one.
It’s a simple premise that gets better with the addition of power-ups. These are purely meant to improve your score over anything else, which means unlocking and experimenting with them usually leads to a lot of confusion that gives way to fun. They’re enjoyable to use, especially when you get good enough to spam them and get high scores.
The game improves vastly when its music library is expanded with tracks from other “Rock Band” games imported into it. With so many song options, it’s a lot harder to get sick of the game, and if you really enjoy the music, digging through hundreds of songs can be really fun. It’s hard to pull yourself away when you add a lot more content.
It’s a shame the market for the full experience is so limited as the game comes complete with some of the more interactive online elements I’ve seen, actively prompting challenges and high-score contests from the main menu. It’s also one of the first games I’ve seen with Facebook integration that works, which is a nice perk.
In short, “Rock Band Blitz” is a great game. For me, it’s a 9/10. But it only makes sense for music lovers and “Rock Band” fans to pick it up, as downloadable content is necessary for the game to be truly fun. Its $15 price tag needs to be compounded by extra money spent to truly make the game worth it. While the fully unlocked product is excellent, I simply cannot recommend “Rock Band Blitz” to less casual fans because the best experience is so freaking expensive.