It’s kind of weird to see how fast the music genre quickly rose to the top in popularity and then fell by the wayside in a short amount of time. Now all we have to show for those few years are hard drives stored with downloaded songs and closets filled with plastic instruments. With Rock Band developer Harmonix still releasing songs every week, whether you’ve been playing their games or not, it was clear to see that they weren’t quite done with the franchise. Now they’ve released Rock Band Blitz, yes another music rhythm game, but this one should have enough of a twist to get you back into the series.
The biggest difference with Rock Band Blitz to previous titles in the series is that it uses your standard Xbox controller to play the game instead of you having to bust out one of your many plastic guitars. For the most part the game plays the same with you having to hit notes as they fly towards you on what is called the highway but since you are all on your own you get to play either four or five instruments during each song.
In Blitz you use separate buttons for each note and the triggers to switch between instruments. Hitting each note raises your multiplier but it can only go up by three for a limited time. To earn more points you need to raise the multiplier of each instrument high enough so that when you hit a “fence” during the song, your multiplier’s limit is increased. If you don’t raise each multiplier to its max by the time you hit the fence the instruments with higher multipliers won’t be able to go up as much when you’re hitting notes while the lower instruments need to play catch up.
Building your multiplier isn’t the only way to get points. By playing songs you’ll earn points to purchase power-ups which can double your score, blow up surrounding notes and various other abilities. Some even play like a game within the game and are fun ways of changing up your journey through a song. None of them ever felt boring and getting a new one is always a great experience. Each time you want to use a power (or three which is the max) you’ll have to use your in-game currency to activate it which can be kind of annoying at times.
If you’re still confused you’ll probably have to check out the demo but the game is incredibly fun and definitely a great change up from the regular Rock Band game play. If you’re familiar with Rock Band Unplugged on the PlayStation Portable or Rock Band on iOS you’ll have a partial idea of how the game plays and know that even with a standard controller, a music rhythm game can be fun.
As I mentioned earlier Blitz is a single player game but like a lot games recently Blitz has gone the asynchronous route with its multiplayer. On the right side of the screen a meter shows the next person on your friends list who is ahead of you in score or someone else on the world leader board. Challenges can also be sent out to players to directly compete with each other to beat the other’s score on a song. You can even link your Facebook profile to the game to compare and compete with your friends or other players. Constantly comparing your scores to others is an easy way to get you back into the game to improve upon yourself but if you don’t have anyone to compete with besides those on the leader boards like I was you may not be returning to the game to often which is a shame.
After you’ve played through each song, leveled up enough to get each power-up and earned the achievements you’re willing to work for the game feels kind of over. That is unless you want to keep playing the new songs that are released each week. (Also achievement whores are going to want to know that you’re going to need to have imported/purchased 275 songs to get every achievement so hopefully you were big into the series before you downloaded Blitz.)
Some sort of single player mode would have been nice to extend the game’s longevity. Rock Band Unplugged still had a World Tour mode similar to the console game where you traveled the world, played set lists and let you create a band to take to the top of the musical world. Something like that or even a completely new mode would probably keep players around longer if they’re not constantly buying new songs; I know that isn’t enough for me.
Soundtrack wise it’s all over the place though that is probably to try and appeal to almost any person who downloads the game. You have some songs that you would expect to see like Iron Maiden’s “Wicker Man” and the Foo Fighters’ “One of These Days.” Songs like Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” are included as well but luckily every song I played was mostly enjoyable. You aren’t forced to play everything if there is something you don’t want to play. Of course if there isn’t enough of you to enjoy they are over 3500 songs to download so you’ll definitely find something.
For now full scale music games are dead. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to a Rock Band party or heard anyone ever suggest we pull out the instruments and play a few songs, but Blitz easily brought me back into the series and will re-justify all of those songs you bought during that music game era. And even though it may sound kind of complicated, after you’ve played a song or two you’ll be easily hooked and rocking out with your controller for a while. But hopefully some of your friends decide to check it out too or you might not be sticking around for too long after everything is said and done.
This review is based on a downloadable copy of the 360 version of Rock Band Blitz.