theuselessgod's Rock Band Blitz (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Every day I'm blitzin'

The Short

Pros

- Fast paced, Frequency or Rock Band Unplugged style of gameplay

- Play a bunch of awesome music without having to buy all the plastic instruments!

- Comes with 25 songs that can be exported to Rock Band 3 for free

- Utilizes all your DLC library from Rock Band, ramping up the replay value tremendously

- Easy controls and a variety of powerups encourage variation and unique playstyles

- Horrendously addicting

- Facebook/Rock Band World integration makes it a blast to compare scores

Cons

- "Coins" system seems a little out of place, especially considering how easily they are obtained after the most recent patch

- Some powerups are completely useless; there's usually one or two main builds that are always the best

- The algorithm that converts your old songs doesn't always do the best job across the board

- With only 25 included songs, those who don't have a Rock Band library already will find the experience a bit lacking

- The disconnect between the game and Facebook kind of slows down the competitive spirit

- Only like three of my friends own this game! Get on the ball, people!

- So addicting it sucked up almost a week's worth of my evenings already. Wonder where the reviews from me have been? Now you know.

Every day I'm Blitzin'

The Long

It's pretty well established I'm a huge Rock Band fan. From Green Day to Beatles I've played 'em all, and compounded a 600+ song DLC library to boot. But after a while you get kind of tired of hauling out the plastic instruments, the guitar track from Dreamchaser by Amberian Dawn is pretty much burned into your mind, and you start wondering what else you can do with all these songs you have lying around.

Well, Harmonix must have read my freaking mind, because here comes Rock Band Blitz, a new game from the music game masters meant to breath new life into their DLC market and your DLC library. You thought rhythm games were dead? Well, they might be struggling a bit, but Rock Band Blitz is easily the best reason for this genre to see a resurgence. It's fast, fun, addicting arcade action with a plethora of side features that are just icing on the cake.

This game is an ADHD person's dream come true.

So what exactly is Rock Band Blitz? At first glance it looks a heck of a lot like Rock Band: Square notes moving towards you down a highway (and it's a literal highway this time. Harmonix, masters of humor) that you gotta smash up for points. However, things are different here. Rather than playing just one instrument, you are tasked to keep the whole band in line. How do you do it? By maximizing multipliers. Seriously, that's really the key part of the game.

Essentially you start with a multiplier range from x1 - x5 (a six point range). As you play well in lanes their individual multipliers for that specific instrument rises up until you hit max. Then you shift to a different lane and do the same (or shift inbetween, if you are a skilled crazy person). Why max these out? Because at various intervals throughout the song you'll pass "gates," where whichever instrument has the lowest multiplier will become the new minimum, and the max multiplier will increase. For example, if all my instruments were at 5x except vocals, which were at 3x, then the max would be increased to 7x. Whereas if I'd played good and gotten all of 'em at 5x, it would have jumped to x9, and so on and so forth.

It isn't as complicated as it sounds. Goal: PLAY GOOD.

This means that by the end of the song you can have some crazy multipliers, like up in the 20s, so playing good throughout and boosting that multiplier means crazier scores. But since tracks don't consistently have notes, this means you have to switch frequently to keep those multipliers up. Add in a "Blitz" mechanic, where playing a bunch of notes without missing (including when you do a lane switch) gives a fickle score boost, and you've got yourself a crazy ride. Do you switch over to grab a certain lane now and risk losing your Blitz, or do you ride it out for a safe pause? It's a very simple mechanic that goes a long way.

And we haven't even talked about the powerups. Before songs you can purchase with "Blitz Coins" a variety of powerups. These range from simple things that blow up notes, score multipliers, etc. all the way to crazy stuff like using your lane-selector to bounce a ball ala Breakout, or chasing down runaway purple notes. These powerups mesh nicely together, and because they are unlocked gradually they encourage you to experiment before fitting into a groove.

That, in a nutshell, is the core idea behind Rock Band Blitz. So let's hit some specifics, shall we?

This game is stupid addicting.

The big "hook" for Rock Band Blitz is the fact that it utilizes all your previously purchased DLC songs to add to the song roster. So the Rock Band faithful will jump into this game with a massive song count to play through and enjoy. It's a great idea, except for the people who don't own any Rock Band songs. While Blitz on its own is a great game, no doubt, one of the appeals comes from having a lot of songs to play. The 25 included are a nice variety (though they seem a bit heavy on the pop-rock), but not nearly enough to quench the thirst of a hardcore player. I guess that means Harmonix are actually evil geniuses because now we'll spend all our money buying more songs, but just be warned going in: if you don't already own songs, plan on buying some to really enjoy Blitz.

The other hook is Facebook integration through the Rock Band World app. This essentially lets you go into your Facebook and sign up for goals, challenge friends to score wars, and generally compare yourself to all your buddies. While the challenges are great (and worked awesome in Rock Band 3) the fact that they require Facebook kind of...sucks, honestly. Since there's the obvious delay between when you play the song and when Facebook realizes it, that can really pull you out of the addictive spirit to have to wait. Also, if you lose connection to Rock Band Central during the game (or just don't have a constant internet connection) your scores won't save and you can't use powerups. So buy only if your Xbox/PS3 is always hooked up to the net.

The Jackpot powerups is a great way to ramp up score, assuming you don't screw up.

The UI in game is fantastic, letting you know exactly on the track where you have to play a particular instrument in order to bump up the multiplier. Really my only complain is that it doesn't show you (or tell you) when the multiplier gates are coming up. A little line on the side showing your progress would be helpful for those of us really trying for that "perfect run," but I guess memorization is the name of the game.

Another weird UI thing is the song list. Rock Band 3 introduced an awesomely dynamic method by which to sort songs. Rock Band Blitz for some reason is back to a very basic sorting structure that is downright archaic in comparison. Plus it is missing the absolutely most necessary sorting method: Sort by songs that your friends have higher scores than you on. Seriously, considering how hopelessly addicted I am to leaderboard climbing and crushing the hopes and dreams of all my Facebook friends, not being able to sort in that way really hurts the experience.

Pinball looks cool, but it's a stupid powerup, honestly.

Let me be honest here: all those complaints are really minor, because when you are actually playing the game you couldn't care less about freaking menu sorting. Seriously, Rock Band Blitz is an absolutely fantastic game regardless of how you slice it. It's fast, fun, and surprisingly difficult. Those naysayers who came off of Frequency and Amplitude and complained because there's only two note options per lane (vs 3 from those games) and that "simplified" things need only play this game for a few songs before realizing this game is chaotic as crap. In order to be good you have to switch lanes like a madman, hunting down the purple notes and white notes while trying to stay in blitz, use power-ups, and lane manage. You feel like a total badass when you get good at this game (or at least I do), as sad as that may sound. It's stupid satisfying, even if the learning curve might be a little overwhelming for those not ready for the stimulation overload.

Regardless, Rock Band Blitz is a fantastic rebirth of the music genre, and a great arcade-style experience in its own right. While it might be somewhat of a lesser experience to those who don't own some Rock Band songs already, it's a game worth investing in for those who preserver. Before you know it you'll be leaderboard-stalking and constantly refreshing Rock Band World to see if you are still #1 on that Amberian Dawn song and THAT JERK CAME BACK AND KNOCKED ME DOWN TO #2 BY 300 POINTS I'M GOING TO KILL HIM!

Anyway, four out of five stars, but if you have any love of Rock Band or have exported from even a single disc (and thus have a DLC library) tack another star on this sucker. It's seriously the most addicting game I've played in a long while, and I show no sign of stopping any time soon.

Plus I can gold star most songs on my first try now. That's how bananas good I am at this game.

More at http://nathanvsvideogames.blogspot.com

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    Rock Band Blitz is a forte for rhythm games! 0

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