Rock Band Blitz
Rock Band Blitz
Platforms: XBLA (reviewed), PSN
Get out your wallets, kids! There’s a new music game in town! Except it’s not a music game, and it’s not a game, really… So what the hell is Rock Band Blitz?
‘Rock Band Blitz’ is Harmonix’s newest “game”, which utilizes your existing Rock Band library to create tracks to rock out on. No need to dust off your plastic instruments, however, as Rock Band Blitz uses your every-day, standard controller for gameplay. Less a music game than it is a rhythm-puzzler hybrid, Rock Band Blitz (which for the sake of brevity I will now refer to as only Blitz) is all about getting the highest score possible before the end of the song, only you can’t fail. Blitz has, at heart, a noble goal: to create a casual and enjoyable music game that anyone can play. Indeed anyone can play it, but few can actually master the game, as in-depth knowledge of the game’s mechanics is the only way to secure four out of five star performance ratings or higher.
Controls are simple, with any action on the D-pad or left analogue stick hitting notes in the left side of the note lanes, and the A button and any action on the right analogue stick hitting notes that fall on the right side of the note lanes. Most songs are made up of four note lanes (with the occasional fifth lane for songs with keyboard/piano parts), each with two sides. Notes fall along a highway just like in other music games, and depending on what side of the lane they are in, players must “play” the notes with a flick of the left or right analogue stick. It’s a simple mechanic, and it is fun when you really nail a difficult part of a song, but ultimately, Rock Band Blitz hardly feels like an actual game. You can’t fail, and there are so many random factors that attribute to getting a high score that you might as well mash on the analogue sticks and buttons non-stop like a madman.
One problem with the actual game mechanics is that due to the thin lanes, and amount of notes on screen, learning the different speeds to press buttons is a lot more difficult than Rock Band itself. Far too many times I have been playing a thrash metal song that for some reason has me hits the notes slower than I should, or at the same rate of another song. I’ve heard DevilDriver and I’ve heard Kelly Clarkson, they are definitely not the same speed guitars.
In spite of all this, I can’t stop playing Blitz, which feels like when I busted my Call of Duty-addicted friends playing Angry Birds, they couldn’t tell me why it was fun, they just felt it was. Perhaps it’s the subtle nuances of Blitz that make it addictive: It “works” with all 300+ DLC songs I have purchased, its bright, colorful, and the city backgrounds and hills all pulsate in time to the music. That being said, there’s nothing in this game that hasn’t already been done in other music puzzle games from Indie developers. In fact, Blitz feels like a highly polished version of ‘Audiosurf’ (available on Steam), or a combination of Rock Band and ‘Symphony’ (also available on Steam). It is fun though, and worth a look at for anyone who wants a casual music-based puzzle game, or for people who couldn’t quite the grasp of the Rock Band or Guitar Hero instruments.
Blitz is pretty, there’s no doubt about it. The game has some of the best use of colour I’ve seen in a puzzle game on Xbox 360, with the menus and in-game screens all utilizing colour and contrast with simple, yet gorgeous execution. There’s not much else to the game’s graphics, as it simply lines, rectangles and the city scape surrounding the game’s various tracks. I will say that the menu interface has been overhauled since Rock Band 3, and the intuitive design works much better than the one in previous Rock Band titles. The Rock Band store is built-in to the game, and any songs you play frequently get listed as favourites, as well as songs you haven’t played before and songs you haven’t played for a while. Popular leaderboard songs and popular songs amongst friends also appear. Now, if only you had more than one friend who still played Rock Band you could have a pretty cool feature.
Blitz is a music game, so I find it a tad annoying that the zany bleeps and bloops of the “power ups” in the game are a lot louder than the music I’m playing. One thing I can gather as a necessity (but still mildly irritating) is the different equalizers that play on different instrument lanes. If you decide to play drums for a portion of the song, the drums will increase in volume, and the same goes for playing bass, guitar and vocals. The vocals get louder, and have added reverb, which works well for the majority of songs but can be annoying as hell on some songs, it makes a lot of songs sound worse (Billy Joel sounds awful for one), as it drowns out the rest of the song, and adds reverb where it isn’t needed.
- Works with all downloadable content already in the Rock Band store or on your console.
- Simple and casual fun, kids could even play it
- Steep price for the package on offer
- Has the same calibration issues as other music titles
- Gets old fast
I’m not going to analyze whether Rock Band Blitz is actually a game or not anymore (which I guess it technically is, as it has scores) but I will say it is fun, at least for a while. Ultimately, I just wish they had made those fragile guitars and drum kits from previous games out of titanium, so that they never needed replacing. If you have Rock Band 3, or Guitar Hero, you are probably better off sticking with what you know. The same goes for Harmonix.