LEGO Rock Band Review
Both Rock Band and Guitar Hero have recently tried to extend the appeal of their series beyond the rock crowd, but they've taken distinctly different paths to reach out to the more pop-oriented masses. Guitar Hero has given birth to Band Hero, a game that basically takes the Guitar Hero experience and puts a pop rock spin on it. Rock Band has instead taken a different route to mass appeal, relying on the universal recognition of LEGO and the familiar brand of humor found in previous LEGO games to bring us LEGO Rock Band. The result is a certainly more family-oriented version of Rock Band, but those used to the interactivity of other LEGO games may find themselves missing the puzzle and building aspects of those games.
If you've played any of the myriad of Guitar Hero or Rock Band games available, then you'll already be familiar with the basics of LEGO Rock Band. Guitar, bass, and drums are played in essentially the same way, with colored note icons (in this case the icons are LEGO bricks, of course) coming down the screen towards the player. When the notes reach the bottom line they must be played by holding down the correspondingly colored guitar fret button and flipping the strum paddle or tapping the drum pad of the same color. The vocals are sung using a mic and following the lyrics scrolling across the top of the screen karaoke-style. The object here is not just to sing the words at the right time, but to match the relative pitch and duration of each word on the vocal track. As is the case with Rock Band, the tracks are in general easier to play than they are in Guitar Hero, but just in case keeping all of the notes straight proves to be too much of a challenge for someone there's a new beginner's mode in which it doesn't matter which fret button you push or drum pad you hit as long as you hit the note at the right time.
The track list is all over the place genre-wise but most of the songs can generally be considered to be rock. Songs are included from The Jackson Five, Pink, Vampire Weekend, Elton John, and Counting Crows, to name a few, and some novelty tracks are also included to keep the song list slanted towards the kid-friendly end of the spectrum such as YMCA, Kung-Fu Fighting, and Ghostbusters. There are 45 tracks in all which is on the short side compared to other games, and since the track list is so widely divergent odds are you'll regularly play only a subset of that. If you have Rock Band and have downloaded tracks for that game, some of those tracks will be available for play in LEGO Rock Band. I'm not sure what determines which songs are made available to LEGO Rock Band and which are not; only a fraction of the songs I've downloaded for Rock Band appeared as available in LEGO Rock Band and there was no common link between the songs that made the cut as far as I was able to determine. Conversely, you can download additional tracks for LEGO Rock Band, but not all of the tracks available online for Rock Band are usable in LEGO Rock Band so don't assume that you'll get to play everything that you like from the downloadable catalog.