Rock Band Blitz Review: Rocking out with controllers
Rock Band Blitz gives players another addicting way to enjoy their music collection, but competing against your friends isn’t as simple as performing like a 5 star band.
It wasn’t too long ago when music based games were on the rise. It all started with Guitar Hero, which spawned a generation of games and plastic guitar controllers. Then Harmonix decided to step it up and give gamers the complete band experience with Rock Band. Since Rock Band 3, gamers have only had DLC to keep them going, and Harmonix needed a way to bring something new to the table for people who want rhythm based games. The result is Rock Band Blitz.
Instead of having the traditional Rock Band set up with drums, mics and guitars, Rock Band Blitz is meant to be played by a single person with a traditional controller. The game focuses on a single player trying to achieve the highest score possible by playing all of the instruments available in each song. Rock Band Blitz offers an experience that focuses on the music instead of playing together with your friends, trying to achieve rock star greatness.
If you have every played a game like Frequency or Amplitude, then Rock Band Blitz will look somewhat familiar. There are anywhere from 3-5 lanes at anytime, and each lane represents an instrument that is played in the current song. There are only two different types of notes that are played on the controller. It is the player’s goal to play as much from each lane as possible to achieve a higher multiplier to increase their score.
Where Rock Band Blitz is very different from its roots is they way players are scored. In traditional Rock Band it is all about streaks and playing all of the notes as accurately as possible. That is still somewhat the case in Rock Band Blitz, but the way multipliers work are very different. Each lane has its own multiplier, and the only way to get the multiplier higher is play notes in the lane. Eventually you will max out your current multiplier and have to move to another lane. The tricky part is that to achieve a multiplier greater the 4X will require players to get a 4X multiplier is every lane. In each song there are checkpoints, and if you have not gotten the multiplier up in each lane than your score will be stuck at only having a 4X bonus.
The tricky part about Rock Band Blitz is increasing the multiplier. Players will really have to know the songs they are playing because sometimes there might be some instruments that don’t get played as much as others. Harmonix has done a good job of balancing each lane and providing faster leveling up for lanes that have fewer notes, but if you miss your opportunity then your score will suffer quite a bit. There is still a bonus for playing notes without missing a beat, but simply never missing a note will get you the highest score.
Speaking of the scoring system, Harmonix has also added some new ways for players to increase their score instead of just getting multipliers. Every song you play, and depending how many stars you achieved, awards you with coins that can be spent on powerups. Some powerups will increase your overall multiplier by two, and others will play an instrument for you so you can focus on other lanes.
Racking up coins and spending them on power ups is a fun concept, but it does impose a big problem with Rock Band Blitz. Leaderboards have been included so players can have battles with their friends, and this is nothing new to the Rock Band formula. The issues arise with the scoring being affected by the powerups. In previous titles songs have a level playing field, and every person that picked up a guitar had the same rules as the next. In Rock Band Blitz that is not the case. There are not separate leaderboards for scores with and without powerups. In most cases you will play a song for the first time and if you friends have played it a few times their score is insanely higher due to powerups. Since there is such a variety of powerups it hard to find that one set of powerups that work correctly. You could argue that fact that finding the right powerups for each song is just part of the game, but having to play a dozens of times just to find out which power ups are the best can be a little tedious. If Harmonix would have just added separate leaderboards this wouldn’t be an issue.
Multiplayer is also something that is missing from Rock Band Blitz, and for a franchise that is known for playing music together, it is a little weird to see no ways to play with your friends. I don’t see any reason why a friend can’t pick up a controller and help me play some of the lanes of music. If it’s a problem of leaderboards, once again just add another leaderboard that is for multiple players only, or just don’t post the scores at all.
The best thing about Rock Band Blitz is the compatibility with all of Rock Band’s DLC that has been made available throughout the years. If you are like me, then you have spent hundreds of dollars on DLC to keep the experience fresh. All tracks that have been downloaded simply work with Rock Band Blitz. That even includes some of the band specific games like Green Day: Rock Band. You even get a track pack that has some songs that are a blast to play on Blitz, but also have some classic like Cult of Personality that are a blast to play on Rock Band 3.
Sometimes I really want to play Rock Band, but I don’t really want to “play” Rock Band. There are times when I really want to enjoy some music, but I don’t feel like getting the drums out, or standing up to play guitar. Rock Band Blitz gives players a chance to enjoy all of the content they have purchased in a different way that is just as entertaining and addicting as the traditional way method of play.
Rock Band Blitz is a much welcomed title that offers tremendous value if you have been playing Rock Band for years, and have been slowly purchasing more content to build a library of music. The 15 dollar price tag is just right, and if you want another way to play all of the content you have spent your money on, do not hesitate to pick up Rock Band Blitz.