Rock Band Blitz Review
If you had a PS2 ten or so years ago and played either of a pair of games called Amplitude and Frequency, then you'll immediately notice that Harmonix looked to its first music games for inspiration in developing Rock Band Blitz. The presentation in Blitz is simpler than it was in those old games and the gameplay not quite as challenging, but Blitz has something else going for it that that Amplitude and Frequency never did ... access to the full Rock Band Music Store. Rock Band Blitz comes with its own twenty-five song track list, but your entire Rock Band 3 music library is also compatible with the game. And as an added bonus, the new tracks that come with Blitz are also all compatible with Rock Band 3.
Blitz carries the Rock Band name, but it doesn't carry its need for plastic instruments, or a band for that matter. The game is played using the gamepad and is strictly single player. There are five note tracks, each tied to an instrument and vocals but these tracks are only two notes wide instead of the usual five. Rock Band Blitz is less about trying to emulate playing the music than it is about rhythm and maintaining momentum. Tracks are selected by shifting left and right using the triggers, and notes are hit by flipping the sticks up when they hit the play line (alternatively you can use the A button and D-pad). As you hit consecutive notes on a track it progressively lights up, but move on to another track and the lit tracks slowly decay with the goal being to keep all of the tracks lit as much as possible. Lighting tracks increases their multipliers, but if you don't keep the multipliers increasing on all of the tracks you'll max out the multiplier on the track you're playing. Get lost in a bass groove and you'll find yourself a few stars short of a five star performance.
The two note tracks and the need to jump between them gives the game more of an arcade feel than Rock Band 3, and at times it made me think of one of those time-management games you'll find on mobile devices or Flash sites. The arcade feel is further reinforced by the game's power-ups. When you complete a song you earn coins based on your performance and you use those coins to purchase power-ups on your next song. Power-ups include score-based bonuses like doubling the point value of all notes on the drum track to an AI band partner that will play the notes on a track for you for a short time while you focus your attention on another track. There's even a pinball power-up in which special notes will launch a pinball that will bounce across the tracks hitting notes as long as you keep it in play by switching to the track it's on when it reaches the bottom of the screen.
For the social gamer, Rock Band Blitz is integrated into Rock Band World, a Facebook app that tracks your scores and accomplishments and ranks them against your friends' performance both in Blitz and the full Rock Band 3 game. Even if you don't visit Facebook to check your friends' skills out you can see how they've done on the tracks they've played from within Blitz and their overall levels. If this passive competition isn't enough for you, you can throw down challenges to your friends.
I had fun with Rock Band Blitz, but part of that is certainly due to my love of music and getting to play a game while listening to some of my favorite tracks. I wish that the game felt more like Amplitude and Frequency, though, and that the gameplay did a better job of making me feel like I am making music while playing it. While you could fool yourself into thinking that you were playing an instrument in Rock Band, the double stick, two note gameplay of Blitz feels more like you're tapping your fingers to the song than actually playing it. And the friendly challenges against your friends aren't enough to compensate for the loss of the social aspect of playing a song together with friends that you get with Rock Band. So who's this game best for? Music fans who want to play a music game that has an enormous catalog of songs from which to choose but don't want to invest in plastic instruments and Rock Band fans who want a twenty-five song track pack that comes with a free game. And who should think twice before buying it? Rock Band gamers who enjoy the party/social aspect of playing songs with a few friends and those who had trouble playing any tracks in Rock Band at anything above the beginner difficulty setting.
Final Rating: 79%. Almost a no-brainer if you have a lot of Rock Band 3 tracks, but the gameplay doesn't quite have that Rock Band magic.