Let’s face it. Peripheral based music games are long past their prime. What were once the centerpieces of many a drunken late night party now sit in the closet collecting dust. Yet, Harmonix has not completely given up on the genre entirely. New DLC is being released even now, five years after the release of the original Rock Band, keeping the hardcore music gamers satisfied. But what about those who want a new challenge, or those have put away their plastic instruments and still want to make use of their purchased content? Well, Harmonix has put together a rather elegant solution with the release of Rock Band Blitz.
Rock Band Blitz is a downloadable title for PS3 and Xbox 360 that takes full advantage of your existing Rock Band library. Blitz follows the same basic idea of most other music games: press buttons in time with the music to break gems coming towards you. But rather than focusing on one instrument at a time, the game has you balancing all the instruments at once, much in the style of Harmonix’s previous games Frequency and Amplitude. But unlike those games, the instrument tracks never deactivate after playing it enough, leaving you to decide when to switch tracks and how to balance your attention.
However it doesn’t keep you completely aimless. Each track has a multiplier that is increased by playing it. The upper threshold for the multiplier is increased at checkpoints throughout each song, but can be hindered by a track not being maxed out.
On top of that, there are power-ups that can be used to various effects, such as launching a pinball that adds to your score by rolling over gems, or blowing up a section of gems to make it easier to switch between tracks.
All this makes for a rather complex scoring system that takes a mix of skill and experimentation to master, but the real behind it drive comes in it’s deep rooted sense of competition. At any given time, the game presents you with a score to beat, whether it be that of someone on your friends list or a preset score. Even further, Blitz is deeply integrated into Rock Band World, a companion Facebook app that provides weekly goals and scavenger hunts as well as letting you challenge your friends to Score Battles, earning you the coins needed to use power-ups. So, really, there’s no shortage of incentive to play.
One of the best things about Rock Band Blitz is its sheer value. At $15, Blitz comes with 25 songs, ranging from classic hits like Shout by Tears for Fears to modern pop hits like Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5. Along with the included tracks, all songs from the Rock Band library exported from discs or downloaded are completely playable in Blitz. With the current song count approaching 4000, there is something for everyone. Furthermore, all of the songs included in Blitz are instantly playable in Rock Band 3 without the need for an additional download. So even if you were to buy this game just for the DLC, you’d be saving a ton.
However the Rock Band Blitz is not all perfect. The only way to get the highest scores is to figure out and use the right combination of power-ups, which cost coins to use. Since coins are earned by getting high scores on songs, it often ends up being a gamble to experiment with combinations, and running out of coins can lead the player to have to sort of grind to earn more. Also, balancing up to 5 tracks of a song can be rather overwhelming, and certain songs have a track or two with a disproportionately low amount of gems, making it easy to miss and nearly impossible to perform well on.
Despite these flaws, Rock Band Blitz remains a great purchase for fans of music and rhythm games and adds a tremendous amount of value to the existing Rock Band library.
VG Tribune gives Rock Band Blitz 9/10
This review was based off of a copy of the title provided to us by Harmonix Music Systems.