Review: Rock Band Blitz (XBLA, PSN) via http://BGBureau.com
By adawg555 08-27-2012 06:23 PM
Does the latest Music game revitalize a fading genre, or does it put the final nail in the coffin?
I need to be honest here. As much as it pains me to say it, the Music Game genre is on life support, being kept alive only by the odd night of drunken plastic guitar debauchery that still breaks out at parties from time to time. Even I, one of the most consistent Rock Band players of years past, have to wipe some dust off of my peripherals when I feel like belting out some Miranda Cosgrove these days. But that won’t stop Harmonix from trying to capitalize on the foundation they started building 10 years ago, and we should all be thankful for that.
Rock Band Blitz is Harmonix’s way of changing up the formula a little bit by harkening back to their roots. Much like their past games, Frequency and Amplitude, Rock Band Blitz gets rid of the plastic instruments in favor of the good old fashioned controller, which you will use to navigate the guitar, bass, drum, vocal, and keyboard tracks, playing notes on each one the whole way through a song. Unlike its big brother, Rock Band Blitz is more like the 3DS and PSP versions of the franchise in that, throughout a song, you will switch from highway to highway playing notes on every instrument rather than being stuck to rocking out just one at a time.
The task of juggling every instrument at once seems daunting at first, especially for those who could barely play the regular Rock Band games at the Easy level, but Rock Band Blitz simplifies things to make it accessible and fun for everyone. Instead of playing 5 notes on any given highway, you are only responsible for 2 notes that you play by flicking the left stick and right stick in unison with the little rectangles on the screen. (Note: there’s a bunch of other control schemes to choose from).
Now, for Plastic Guitar Warriors such as myself, having to pay attention to only two notes may seem like being on Easy street when it comes to getting massive note streaks. But even without the instrument in your hand and facing simplified highways, Rock Band Blitz still makes you feel like the shreddingest of rock stars at times as you flip through instruments and hit note after note with ever-growing ease the more you play the game. The amount of fun it is to play notes in unison with a song you love is not lost at all in Rock Band Blitz, and the euphoria that comes with nailing sections of any particular track is still there in droves. Believe me, the gameplay does not disappoint in the least bit.
What helps a ton with this is the fact that the beauty of Rock Band Blitz lies in that, unlike Rock Band 3, it isn’t about how many notes you hit in a row, its about when you hit the notes and how you hit them. It’s about using different strategies and getting to the highest point on the leaderboard amongst your friends as possible.
The scoring system of Rock Band Blitz is completely new and overly addicting. While hitting as many notes in a row as you could was the crux of Rock Band 3′s scoring system, Rock Band Blitz doesn’t care about note streaks at all. It doesn’t even care about you missing notes because you can’t fail at all. Instead, every note you hit on a particular instrument highway builds up a persistent multiplier on that highway which remains whether you miss a note or blast through all of them effortlessly. The real quirk in the gameplay comes in the fact that each instrument track can only be raised to a set multiplier level in any given section of a song, and you can’t raise it any more until you reach a checkpoint in the song which raises the multiplier level caps for all of the instrument tracks depending on where the lowest multiplier out of the 5 tracks lies. The higher the multiplier you have on each track at the end, the bigger the final bonus you get on your score when the roadies are packing up the truck.
This leaves you with some rocking decisions to make at any given time. Do you want to go on farming points on the keyboard track that is throwing notes at you and is at the 10x multiplier, or do you focus on raising that barren vocal track’s multiplier from 8x to 10x so that your cap will be raised higher at the next checkpoint? Whatever you choose to do will effect your score at the end. “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga is a whole different beast from “Through the Fire and Flames” by Dragonforce in the way you play each song, and you need to master the tracks and patterns of every song if you ever want your score to be respectable. Add in a layer of Power-Ups to the gameplay and you have something special.
Not only do you have to juggle playing more instruments than a member of Rush, but there’s also a plethora of upgrades to choose from in order to help your scoring pursuits as well. In Rock Band Blitz, each song you complete gives you both Blitz Cred and coins. Blitz Cred is the game’s XP system, ad reaching certain level of BZ unlocks Power-ups to buy before playing a song. You buy these upgrades with the coins you earn, and each upgrade can only be bought for one song and one song only. One Powerup might double the multiplier on a given track for a short amount of time, while another may cause a track to catch fire for bonus points. There’s around 15 in total split between 3 categories, and choosing the right ones to use for a particular song will be the key to getting the stars you need. But if you choose the wrong power ups and score poorly, that’s tough crap for you because the points are spent and cannot be refunded. If you fail to defeat a foe with a particular set of upgrades, you have to go and play a few other songs in order to gain enough coins to purchase some new upgrades and try again.
The system can be extremely entertaining and sometimes frustrating, but always remains addictive thanks in large part to the way it handles giving you a challenge. There is no active multiplayer, but through Facebook and the game itself, Rock Band Blitz always keeps tabs on who’s better than you or who’s challenging you for each song. Even before you pick a song, there’s a constant score list so that you are always aware of your next target on the leaderboard. I found myself always playing songs to gain more money to try one last crack at that bastard who I couldn’t catch up to on Rush’s YYZ. Now, not everyone is interested in playing a song repeatedly and going for high scores. For the more casual player, this aspect of the game will not have a lasting appeal at all. But if you are a score seeker, the game keeps you playing over and over again by dangling that delicious carrot in your face and never letting you quite catch up to it because there is always someone who is better than you. But you will keep trying over and over and over again gladly because the musical experience is worth it and the gameplay is solid.
Rock Band Blitz comes with 25 songs in the game itself. The artists range anywhere from Foster the People to Pink to the Foo Fighters and everything in between. While the standard tracklist is diverse enough to be enjoyable for most, Rock Band Blitz’s real success comes in its ability to take every DLC track you’ve downloaded and exported in the regular Rock Band series and effortlessly port them into this new game. For Rock Band veterans, you will have thousands of songs ready to go right off the bat. For newbies to the Harmonix series, there is a world of music at your fingertips just ready to be bought and played. Additionally, each song that comes with Rock Band Blitz can be exported free of charge and played in Rock Band 3 if you still prefer putting your palm sweat all over those fake guitars.
The only thing I really missed from Rock Band 3 which didn’t make it over to its Arcade counterpart were the visuals that went along with every song in that game. Watching my fictional band headbang away to Men at Work was always something that I got a kick out of. Unfortunately in Rock Band Blitz, the band is replaced by a generic roadway that races through an unnamed city from the beginning to the end of the song. That isn’t to say that the game looks bad, though. Its still quite colorful, but the visual appeal is definitely lacking in comparison to the bigger installments. Even so, its a minor gripe for a great game.
For those who never played the likes of Amplitude or even Rock Band: Unplugged, Rock Band Blitz is sure to be a little jarring to the thought of what music games are and should be. It may even be a little awkward to play at first. But give it a couple of songs and you will be right back into the groove of things and enjoying the hell out of it. Rock Band Blitz takes an old formula and revitalizes it into a music game that is less focused on the music, but will still keep you coming back for more just the same. Any fan of the genre or the music, or hell, even someone just looking for a good challenge should give it a go. For those who are not into going for the high score at any cost, the game will, admittedly, lose your interest in the long run. But for those of you who are up for the task, Rock Band Blitz will give you unrelenting enjoyment for a long time to come.
|Comments (Total Comments: 2)|
|raarar - 08-27-2012, 08:08 PM|
|Gut - 08-28-2012, 03:58 PM|
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