Welcome back to the world of Rock Band everyone; please take a seat right here on your couch. What? Oh no, you won’t need those plastic doodads, they just take up too much space. Here, you play using an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 controller. Madness, right? Making a game out of the once optional way to play the original games with just a controller.
Rock Band Blitz takes the five instrument track of Rock Band 3 and places it on a downtown highway with flashy signs, buildings, cars, and pedestrians. Here you will be able to switch between the tracks on the fly by pressing either the left or right triggers (or left or right bumpers) rather than be assigned to a single instrument. Just like previous Rock Bands, your objective is to hit the notes once they reach the bottom of the screen. As I’ve mentioned, this being a musical highway, it feels like you’re travelling towards the notes rather than the other way around. Since there are no plastic guitars or drums to plug in, you’re playing with the magical devices that come with all consoles, the gamepad. You have two notes per track and have two corresponding buttons to use; either the left and right joysticks to flick or the D-Pad and the A button. I preferred going with the 2nd method for a more instant and accurate feeling.
Unlike other music games, the object here isn’t to hit ALL the notes but to build the highest score possible. Sure hitting all the notes will net you higher scores but you don’t get penalized for missing any notes. Heck, you can’t even fail a song so anyone can just jump right in and give it a shot. To assist with reaching those high scores, Harmonix has implemented various bonuses the player can earn. The easiest to come by is the Blitz mode. Blitz activates when you hit a required amount of consecutive notes and once you do, the camera zooms in on the tracks and makes you feel as if you’re traveling much faster, making it more difficult to keep the Blitz going. But if you do keep it up and not miss a beat, you’ll reap the higher points. As long as you don’t miss any notes, you’re free to switch between the various tracks.
As you play, you’ll earn cred and coins. Coins you use to spend on bonuses while cred is used to unlock more bonuses. Initially you have access to only a 2x Overdrive power-up which you activate by pressing X when you’ve hit enough white notes; similar to how overdrive in Rock Band worked. Once you play more songs and earn more cred, you get access to even more bonuses like the instrument power-ups that modify a whole track’s point totals to Note power-ups that are randomly scatted across the various tracks. To activate them you have to hit the glowing purple note and they can be as simple as blasting away the closest notes to having a giant pinball roll down your tracks getting points for each note it hits.
As long as you keep bouncing the ball back you keep earning points, so feel free to unleash your inner pinball wizard. You get access to all three types for each song but only one from each category. This is where the coins come in as you need to have enough coins earned to be able to select a power up. Now the challenge here is to find a combination that suits your play style and what will, hopefully, net you the most points. My go-to was using Shockwave, Blast Note, and Super Guitar. Shockwave sends out an electric pulse down the highway earning points for every note touched, Blast Note destroys any notes within its blast radius, and Super Guitar doubles the amount of points earned in the Guitar track.
If you have Rock Band DLC or exported any of the disc based Rock Bands, you’ll be excited to hear that Blitz is compatible with the entire Rock Band song library. That’s a mess of songs to get started with right there, right out of the “box”. Plus all 25 tracks included with Rock Band Blitz are compatible with Rock Band 3, how awesome is that? When you get into the menus, Your first screen is the Recommendations where the game will suggest new songs to get, songs to replay for higher scores, and songs your friends most recently played. But one of the many things that will keep you coming back to Blitz is the Score Wars. Here the game recommends a friend to challenge in a song for bonus creds and coins. You have two days to compete with each other trying to outdo the other’s scores. You get as many attempts as you would like and the player with the highest at the end of the war wins the prizes.
Speaking of high scores here, during the song you can see where you are in relation to where your next closest friend is located on a bar on the far right of the screen. The bar displays how far away you are from your friend in real time. Having the leader board and Score Wars does quite the bang up job of pulling you in to stomp on your friend’s daily. My goal was to try and out score some of the Giant Bomb and Cheap Ass Gamer guys as I knew a few of their Live names and yes, I did beat a few of there scores, so HA. Once this hits the XBLA though, I imagine I’ll have more challengers and that all my hard work for top scores (even a few global #1’s) will be beaten like an angry musician to his unsuspecting guitar. For right now, I’ll take my pride in my scores. If you link up with Rock Band World on Facebook you can even challenge friends who have the Playstation version of Blitz. Not only that but you can join in on goals with friends or challenge them to Score Wars to receive bonus coins and more.
Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer here, you’ll have to make do with the leader boards and Score Wars. I hope in future installments or even maybe a title update they find a way to incorporate a multiplayer mode with two players, local or Live, that could play the same song as a team. Then just swap to any track along the highway as long as the other player wasn’t already there; you know, something co-op.
The game is only $15 and includes those 25 songs, so that’s actually cheaper than buying 25 Rock Band songs piecemeal on the Rock Band Network, that’s what I call a freaking deal. Harmonix knows what it’s doing when it comes to the music genre and DLC compatibility, this game just reinforces that and shows that these guys create toe-tapping fun games.
A download code was provided by Harmonix for review purposes