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Review: Rock Band Blitz [XBLA]

Posted on August 27, 2012 AT 08:05am

The idea of taking a game like Rock Band and stripping away the plastic instruments seemed a bit odd to me when I first heard about Rock Band Blitz. I couldn’t help but think that Harmonix was going to fall flat on their face with this one. Let’s take one of the most interesting parts of our franchise and completely scrap it. Sure, I thought, that’ll work! I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only does Rock Band Blitz stand on its on two feet, it doesn’t need to lean on a fake guitar to do it.

Rock Band Blitz has two lightning fast tutorials that get even the most novice gamer ready to bang their heads like a rock legend. The game mechanics with a regular console controller are not all that different from previous Rock Band games with their plastic counterparts. As the notes race at you on screen, you can utilize the D-Pad and right analog stick to hit them in time with the track. Alternatively you can use the A button for notes on the right and the left analog for notes on the left. There are a couple other options at your disposal as well, experiment with with the controls and see what set up works best for you. I found being able to use numerous combinations of triggers to to be incredibly beneficial after hours of play when my hands cramped up a bit and I needed to tweak my style for comfort.

The first thing players notice is that drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and keyboard are all lined up next to one another. And each instrument field has notes on it regardless of what track you are playing on. Players use the controllers shoulder buttons to toggle across the instrumental tracks. While you can certainly choose to only play guitar through out a song, you won’t be getting the same bonuses and score of someone who jumps between all five instruments. It feels overwhelming at first and even a little stressful. How are you going to hit every note? That’s a trick question with an easy answer. You won’t hit every note. Blitz isn’t about getting every track to played flawlessly, though it is fun to try. Instead your objective is to get the most points you possibly can by combining accuracy, Power Ups, and good timing.

The scoring system is one of the most unique features Blitz has to offer. As you are playing the best way to get the big points is to level up each instruments multipliers. You do this by hitting a certain amount of notes on each track, followed by hitting the note that is marked as a multiplier. In order to get the highest multiplier possible, you need to level all instrumental tracks throughout the song. Not only will you earn more points, but you’ll also get a chance to increase your level cap at the various check points that are scattered through out each song. The more you play, the more coins and Blitz Cred you earn. The coins are used to unlock Power Ups which can be anything from a giant pinball to double points to making your guitar worth more points than the other instruments. Blitz Cred is more of a standard leveling system that lets you unlock new songs as you earn more and more of it. After you’ve unlocked all the songs, gaining Blitz Cred is more of a bragging right than a necessity. There are a lot of Power Up options and combos to mix and match. Which in turn leads to you needing a certain amount of strategy if you plan on hitting the top of the leader boards.

Blitz also has a competitive edge to it that is rarely seen in a downloadable title. As you happily bounce along to your favorite tunes, you will notice a meter on the right hand side of your screen. The meter will have your progress and where you stand against a random competitor who is now known as your rival. But don’t get too excited if you surpass your rival’s score during a song, there will be another one for you to top before the track ends! Another fun feature is “Score War”. This challenge can be activated from the Blitz home screen and has you playing against another pre-selected Blitz player on a pre-determined song. After you play the song, the person you are challenging has a couple of days to log on and see if they can beat your score. The winner gets Blitz Cred and coins and is a fun way to liven up playing a song you’ve already run through a dozen times. Plus the coin bonus isn’t too shabby for a track you probably would have played anyway!<

The soundtrack is just as diverse as one would expect from a Rock Band title. Queen, Quiet Riot, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Maroon 5, Fall Out Boy, and Foo Fighters are just some of the songs you’ll be able to play. Blitz is a great game for a group of friends to pass around because there’s most certainly going to be a song for everyone. The pros are that you can download almost any song you want from the Rock Band catalog (for a fee) and you can use many songs from previous Rock Band titles with Blitz. The con is that if you don’t have the money to drop on extra songs or you don’t have previous Rock Band games, you end up feeling a little limited after hours of play. For many this won’t be a problem, but it is worth mentioning.

Visually the game is full of bright colors and flashing lights, which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, the technicolored scenery is a welcome change from the more muted tones that most games tend to have. On the other hand, after about an hour you almost feel like your eyes are bleeding. But that could just as easily be a result of not wanting to blink in fear of missing a crucial note during a drum solo. Ah, the price you pay for rock and roll. The playing field itself is set up like a race track, complete with ups and downs and extreme turns. You may run into a problem if you tend to plan your track switches a few notes ahead of time, as the hills make it impossible to see what’s coming up next. The biggest problem I had with Blitz was that by the time I hit the finish line (and yes, it’s a literal finish line) the whole screen seemed be moving as well as anything else I looked at. Do not attempt to walk a straight line after playing!

SUMMARY: Yes, you should download Rock Band Blitz. Even without downloading additional songs, you will still get hours of play from this title. It’s a fun romp even if it can be a bit dizzying at times.

  • THE GOOD: Wide variety of genres and competitive edge
  • THE BAD: Limited tracks and level design hinders gameplay
  • THE UGLY: Too bright

SCORE: 9.0

About the Author: Laura has many varied interests outside of video gaming. Other hobbies and areas of obsession include: hiding her Boston accent, singing, Metallica, The Walking Dead, Iron Man, Green Day, The Boondock Saints, tattoos, Pomeranians, and the paranormal. Follow Laura on Twitter: @DN_VampPMS

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