Giant Bomb Review

22 Comments

LEGO Rock Band Review

3
  • X360

LEGO Rock Band's charming premise crumbles under the weight of a scattered track list and a clumsy execution that doesn't do justice to either LEGOs or Rock Band.

 Rock out with your block out!

Traveller's Tales has found surprising success over the past few years with its playful action adventure games that combine familiar intellectual properties like Star Wars and Batman with that finest of Danish exports, LEGOs. Traveller's Tales has taken this chocolate-and-peanut-butter idea in an intriguing, peculiar direction with LEGO Rock Band, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a standard Rock Band experience that's been coated in those distinctive plastic building blocks. 
 
Unlike Traveller's Tales previous LEGO efforts, the LEGO element feels more like cutesy window dressing here than an integral part of the experience. With the LEGO license and the E10+ rating, LEGO Rock Band is ostensibly an all-ages, family-friendly angle on the Rock Band formula. But in pursuing an everything-for-everybody design, the game ends up with a track list that's just as unfocused as Activision's competing Band Hero, though without that game's overall polish. There's nothing inherently faulty about the underlying ideas here, but in execution LEGO Rock Band is ultimately less than the sum of its parts. 
 
LEGO Rock Band largely abides by the basic structure that you've come to know from the other Rock Band games. You've got full support for guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, and you can play with any combination thereof in either a free play mode or the game's story mode. Other than the addition of a new super easy difficulty and a generally more forgiving level of difficulty than the mainline Rock Band games, the only real significant difference gameplay-wise is the LEGO Recovery Mode. Usually, when you fail out of a song in Rock Band, it requires another player to sacrifice some portion of his or her overdrive meter to bring you back into the action. With the LEGO Recovery Mode, you can earn your second chance to keep going after you've failed out by successfully hitting a series of notes. Beyond making it possible to keep yourself going when you're playing solo, it's not necessarily a better way to handle keeping everyone in the game, but it's different.
 

We will, we will, BLOCK YOU!

Alternately, the story mode in LEGO Rock Band feels like a more confined version of the world tour mode that has helped Rock Band turn its persistent experience into more than a list of songs to be played through. The issues I take with the story mode are twofold. While you still open up new songs, new venues, new modes of transport, and additional support staff for your band as you play, you get none of the globe-trotting feel of being a rock band out on tour. It is, admittedly, primarily an issue of presentation. The menus just move from one room to another inside your Rock Den, which serves as a customizable base of operation for your band, rather than some kind of world map. My other big issue is that I felt there were more choke points in the story progression where I found myself forced to play, or in the more bothersome circumstances, replay songs that I had little interest in playing in order to advance.
 
This second issue is exacerbated by the fact that the track list in LEGO Rock Band is just all over the place in a way that makes me suspect that the folks behind this game weren't really sure who they were making this game for. Goofy crowd-pleasers like Bon Jovi's “You Give Love a Bad Name”, Queen's “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You”, Carl Douglas' “Kung Fu Fighting”, and Ray Parker Jr.'s “Ghostbusters” seem to be aimed at a more casual crowd than the usual Rock Band game, and that seems like the right direction for LEGO Rock Band. But then the novelty songs and Top 40 stuff is accompanied by b-sides from bands like Counting Crows, Blink 182, Supergrass, and Good Charlotte, and a number of bands that I've just simply never heard of. Maybe that's a personal failing, but I feel like a track list that's meant to be Fun For the Whole Family should be more consistently familiar and hummable. To its credit, LEGO Rock Band has support for Rock Band DLC, opening up the music you can play here. You can also export the track list out of LEGO Rock Band for an additional, fairly nominal fee, making them available for play in other Rock Band games that support general DLC. In the context of a larger Rock Band play list, the songs available here make a whole lot more sense.
 

 I've officially run out of LEGO puns. Enjoy this screenshot on its own merits!

For as fundamentally similar to past Rock Band games as this is, there's something about the basic gameplay in LEGO Rock Band that just feels off. It's pretty subtle, and if you haven't played a whole lot of Rock Band, you might not notice, but it's somehow more mechanical, like there's more of a disconnect between what you're hearing and how you're playing.

In the end, LEGO Rock Band just doesn't do a terrific job of justifying its existence as a standalone game. The LEGO hook doesn't go too far beyond the superficial novelty of watching little Lego people jump around bombastic venues as you play, and too much of the music just feels mismatched to the underlying concept. Even if you're looking for an experience that's more kid-friendly, there are still better ways to rock.

22 Comments
Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff

Good review Ryan!
 
This looks like something I will GameFly for a few days just to try it out  and experience. Definitely not something I would actually purchase.

Online
Posted by MetalGearSunny

I like the setlist, so I'm gonna go play with my Legos and have fun, god damn it!

Posted by LordAndrew

Is "LEGOs" the proper pluralization of "LEGO"? This is important. :P

Posted by stinky
@LordAndrew: 
LEGO is the company name. 
they make plastic bricks. 
 
so correct usage would be something like  "i have many LEGO bricks." 
Posted by Kenzo287

looks like a buy it, import the songs, and play it on a different rock band type of game to me

Posted by Dr_Feelgood38

Meh. Wasn't really expecting much from this anyway. Great review, though.

Posted by DrRandle

Appreciate the review Ryan, but to be clear, can I export the Rock Band 2 tracks into Lego Rock Band if I prefer the blocky window dressing?

Posted by Curufinwe

Has Ryan reviewed every Guitar Hero and Rock Band game that have been released since Giant Bomb began?

Posted by Dryker

This game's as good as Brutal Legend!

Posted by DarkGamerOO7

Why does this game exist?

Posted by Bigandtasty

lol, lego puns 
 
@Curufinwe said:

" Has Ryan reviewed every Guitar Hero and Rock Band game that have been released since Giant Bomb began? "
Jeff reviewed Band Hero and RB2
Posted by JJOR64

I think I'm going to stay away from this one.

Posted by JonathanMoore

Hmm... A pass on this one huh guys?

Posted by WinterSnowblind
@DarkGamerOO7 said:
" Why does this game exist? "
The Lego games have been very popular with the younger audiance.
And the Rock Band / Guitar Hero games have also.
 
Put two and two together.  Not everything is developed for the 20-something hardcore gamers.
Posted by wwfundertaker

Greats puns Ryan, but ill stay away from the game.

Posted by Kohe321

Great review!

Posted by ChuckLee

The game looks interesting, yet not really something i'd get into. Looks great for kids!

Posted by Curufinwe
@Bigandtasty: It's good he's not stuck doing all of them.
Edited by MeatSim

So when can I expect LEGO Madden and LEGO Modern Warfare?

Posted by Shobakistan

 Seriously guys, stop pluralising LEGO, its driving me insane. LEGO is a collective term, the singular would be a LEGO brick, not a LEGO. STOP SAYING LEGOs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Media_Master

For Kids game.

Edited by PlatypusPlatoon

I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned anywhere that you can't take this online, which is a major step backwards from the last few Rock Band games.  That's a deal-breaker for me, and I don't understand why this game didn't implement any online functionality when they clearly use the rest of the Rock Band technology.