While all of this will be overwhelming at first, the good news is that you'll never die while playing Rock Band Blitz. Gone is the idea of failing a song, so just try your hardest and get as many points as you can. With the power-ups in play, it's not always about hitting 100% of the notes. However, once you do get a note streak going, the game will go into hyper-speed Blitz mode. Needless to say, there's a lot happening all at once.
Because of the way they're displaying all of the instruments at once, this lends itself well to songs with distinctive parts. A song like "We Will Rock You" by Queen, for example, starts with drums, moves into vocals and ends with one of the most memorable guitar solos in rock history. These sections don't overlap, allowing the player to easily feel in control of the action at all times. But that is not the case in most songs. Most of the time you're being pulled in all directions, making for one of the most intense experiences of the year.
Blitz comes with 25 songs new to the Rock Band universe. These songs are of varying quality, from must-have gems (Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," Living Colour's "Cult of Personality"), some unexpected surprises (Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie," Barenaked Ladie's "One Week"), some recent hits (Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks," Fun's We Are Young") and the one of the worst songs of all time (Shinedown's awful Diamond Eyes). Blitz also returns two missing Rock Band 2 songs -- Soundgarden's "Spoonman" and "Give It Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Much like past Rock Band products, the music that comes with the game is only a sliver of the experience. Thanks to five years of frequenting the the Rock Band Music Store and Rock Band Network, I have amassed a collection of songs 1,200 strong. All of a sudden I have a brand new way to enjoy all of the music on my hard drive. And not just the downloadable content, but also the tracks from Rock Band 1 and 2, LEGO Rock Band, Green Day: Rock Band, AC/DC Live and the various track packs. About the only thing missing is the ability to play the music from The Beatles: Rock Band and Rock Band 3.
What makes this package even sweeter is the ability to take all 25 Blitz songs into Rock Band 3. That's fifty dollars' worth of music for a fraction of the price. Even if there are a few tracks I wouldn't have bought, it's hard to argue with songs for sixty cents. If this collection of hits doesn't get you to dust off the fake plastic guitar, then nothing will.
Although simple looking, the visuals pack a surprising amount of detail. Each of the stages has unique decorations on each side, including famous faces, venues and other odds and ends from past Rock Band releases. The rollercoaster ride effect is also fun, zipping you around a city bopping to the beat of the song. The audio is also strong, especially when it comes to the original music in the tutorial mode. Why isn't that a playable track?
Rock Band Blitz has some quirks that make it stand out, not always in a flattering way. For one thing, the game takes a long time to set-up. Sure, the 356 MB download is small, but that's just the start. Eventually the game will count all of the Rock Band songs on your hard drive, which takes an alarming amount of time (but only the first time). Then, when that's done, you have to download another 700 MB worth of new music. In total the start-up process took close to a half hour.
Even with an unusually time consuming set-up, Rock Band Blitz is ultimately worth the wait. Even though it's a simple concept, this brand new Xbox Live Arcade release feels like a fully featured game. It's missing some sorting options and the interface is a little clunky, but that shouldn't keep you away from one of the most exciting action/puzzle experiences of the year. Harmonix has done the impossible and created a game just about anybody can love.
(NOTE: Since writing my review, Harmonix has tinkered with the game's economy. As a result, the description of how Blitz Coins work is now outdated. That does not impact my overall thoughts on the game and my score remains unchanged. Instead of rewriting my review for every tweak Harmonix makes, I've decided to end this review with a blanket statement: Rock Band Blitz is subject to change without warning.)
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!