Put down the band Peripherals; Drop the drumsticks, get rid of the guitar and banish the bass because Harmonix have done it! Rock Band Blitz brings the control of the whole band into the players hand through the standard Xbox360 controller.
I must admit that it saddened me to hear there would be no more DJ hero games as I slowly came to the realisation that the rhythm genre was becoming a treasure of a bygone era. Then this little XBLA gem was announced and the more I learnt about it the more I wanted it.
The game is a perfect example of being easy to play, yet difficult to master (once you have learnt the basic control system). I made the mistake of being cocky and just jumping into a song but then realised I had no idea of the control system and so undertook the tutorial.
The way the game works is that you are presented with the five instrument tracks from left to right (Drums, Bass, Guitar, Vocals, and Keyboard). Each track will be simultaneously playing and have notes for you to hit. You then control which track you play by selecting the track with either the left or right trigger. This means there is no way not to miss notes and as such, you will be unable to fail a song by being booed off like previous instalments of Rock Band.
This new multitasking aspect does bring an element of thought and tactics to the game though, that wasn’t in previous instalments of the series. Here you will have to decide whether to hit the notes to boost your special bar, hit the notes to improve your multiplier on a certain track or just stick on the track that has the most notes and rack up that score. The old adage of practice makes perfect has never been more appropriate for a rock band game.
There are a couple of different control options but for the basis of the review I will explain the default controls (that I find the easiest and most intuitive to use). The controls work well as you bounce between each track using A to hit the right hand notes and the left analogue stick to catch the left hand notes (as each track will now give you two different notes to hit as though each instrument has two different buttons). This is just one example of the ‘difficult to master’ mentality as you can find yourself getting lost in button bashing away to your favourite songs for those five star difficulty tracks.
To help you get the illustrious five star score on each song, you can also purchase power ups for the song. Rock Band Blitz offers a cred system and coin system. Blitz cred is your overall rating that is measured on your performance on each song, while you can unlock coins dependent on how well you perform in each song. In its first week of launch, Harmonix have changed the way the coins work slightly to make it easier to use these coins on the Power ups.
At the end of each song you now get hundred songs for each star you manage to achieve. These can be spent on either Override power up’s (that use your special bar), Note power up’s such as bomb notes that eliminate surrounding notes if hit successfully, or track power ups that reward players for things like moving tracks at a perfect time.
The use of power-ups continues to add excitement to what could have been a stale game as you compete with your friends on a live scoreboard to outrank them. You are also able to challenge friends to a score war which sees you complete a song using whatever power ups you wish and then sending your score to them to try and beat. If you win, you get cred and Blitz (as well as bragging rights).
The main thing about Blitz is the songs. The game comes with a whopping twenty five songs and as expected, range from metal to pop. These include: Avenge Sevenfold, Iron Maiden, Blink 182, Falllout Boy, P!nk and Elton John.
The great thing with Rock Band Blitz is that once you have purchased this game, these songs can be played in Rock Band 3. In addition if you have previous Rock Band downloaded content from the Rock Band Network, these tracks can be imported into Blitz. Rumour has it any and all songs were able to be exported into Blitz but this is not the case. You are able to pay 400 MSP if you have the original Rock Band to import these songs, and pay 800 MSP to do the same with Rock Band 2 but there is currently no way to play Rock Band 3 tracks in Blitz. I am sure this will get fixed soon though with some sort of DLC. I hope.
The amount of tracks available to you through importing songs from previous instalments of the franchise, as well as the 3,500+ songs on the Rock Band network means that this game becomes so much bigger than the initial twenty five songs and well worth the 1200 MSP investment.
In closing, I can’t help but think a local co-op option would have been a great addition that would have attracted a wider audience. If you couple this with the fact that Rock Band 3 songs are still unable to be imported, there are a couple of things that stop this from being a 100% scoring game, but nonetheless, it is still a fantastic entry into the rhythm game genre.