There's a little something for everybody in Rock Band Blitz. For gamers who have grown bored with Rock Band, this is a refreshing new game that pulls from a library of songs on the hard drive. For those of us who still play Rock Band 3, this is a pack of 25 new songs for little money. And for those who have yet to fall in love with the popular music games, this is an attractive package with nearly four thousand downloadable tracks for your customizing pleasure. In fact, the only people who won't like Rock Band Blitz are those who can't stand music.
Don't let the title fool you, this is a Rock Band game that doesn't require fake plastic instruments. This is a small downloadable Xbox Live Arcade release that allows players to play music using nothing more than their regular Xbox 360 controller. But that's not the only change. By harkening back to the early days of Frequency and Amplitude, Harmonix has created a Rock Band game that feels more like a shooter than rhythm game. Imagine Tempest with all of your favorite rock songs.
In many ways, Blitz is antithetical to the traditional Rock Band experience. This is not a game about memorizing difficult guitar solos and learning how to rock those wicked drum fills. There's no pro guitar here. Instead you get a chaotic mess of lights, colors, noises and explosions. Forget about missing notes, this isn't the type of game where you're being judged on perfection. Even if you wanted to, it's physically impossible to hit every note that comes your way. The last five years you've put into playing fake plastic guitar isn't going to help you in Rock Band Blitz.
There's a lot happening at once, so try to keep up. In Blitz, Harmonix has taken the traditional Rock Band chart highway and turned it into a real highway, complete with twists, bridges, dips and large hills. The five instruments (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals) are set-up in a row, allowing the player to jump from one lane to the next whenever they like. This allows players to pick the instrument they want and then switch when they get bored (or run out of notes).
Now this is where things get start to get tricky. Each song is split up into sections and your goal is to build up the score multiplier for each of the instruments. You do this by playing enough notes correctly in each lane to level up, allowing each instrument's multiplier to increase up to three notches. Once you've completed a section, the game resets the multipliers and you do the same thing over again until the song ends. However, don't leave a lane empty or it will hold the rest of the instruments back. It's a constant battle to make sure all of the lanes are filled before completing a section, as it's the key to earning high scores.
With so much happening at once, it's a good thing there are only two possible notes to hit. Gameplay has largely been reduced to hitting left or right (or the left and right triggers in the control scheme I use). Most of the time you'll alternate from one to the other; however there are a number of variations. There are extended notes, as well as times when you'll need to hit both notes at the same time. Anybody who has seen a rhythm game before will instantly be familiar with the set-up.
Just to complicate things even more, Rock Band Blitz introduces three different types of power-ups. The first is the overdrive power-up, which can be deployed after playing enough white notes. Some of your options include a 2X multiplier (on top of your existing lane multiplier), a bomb and even a rocket that will destroy the notes in a particular lane. Another power-up revolves around the track. Here you choose what instrument you want to have a point bonus.
The most interesting power-up is for the notes. Here you'll be forced to perform some sort of mini-game in order to collect a big point bonus. Unfortunately, these are largely out of your control. For example, one option is to bounce a pinball back and forth while trying to complete lanes. Another option is to hit a series of notes that catch fire one by one. Mastering this power-up and using it in conjunction with the rest of the bonuses is the only way to get the coveted gold stars.
But don't get too excited, because these power-ups come at a steep price. This is not a one-time buy kind of situation; you will need to repurchase these items for every song. Buying two or three power-ups will mean that you're spending more points than you will earn by completing the song, so be careful how many items you load up on. Thankfully you can earn more points by completing challenges on Rock Band World, the new Harmonix Facebook app.*
Rock Band Blitz works as not only an extension of the Harmonix brand, but also as a stand-alone action game full of cool power-ups and competitive leaderboards. Plus, it's a set of mostly great songs that can be played in Rock Band 3. It doesn't matter if you shred with a fake plastic guitar, retired from the road long ago or are playing for the first time; Rock Band Blitz has a little something for everybody!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!