I’ve been a fan of the rhythm genre since the first Guitar Hero was available way back at the end of 2005. I started off with limited ability but after being embarrassed at a party, I took it personally and put some effort into getting better. It’s all about practice - surprisingly just like playing an instrument in real life, albeit a much quicker learning curve in the game.
GAME NAME: Rock Band Blitz
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
RELEASE DATE(S): August 29, 2012
Although I’m a fan of the genre, the truth is, I haven’t picked up the guitar controller in months – it’s off in the corner getting dusty, and I think a couple of the buttons are sticking (which may be part of the reason for its being put in the corner). But the good new is, I didn’t have to break out the guitar after I downloaded Blitz. This release in the Rock Band series uses the standard controller. This is good and bad – it’s extremely handy, but it doesn’t give you that cool ‘rocker’ feeling when you’re playing. That’s definitely missing for me – I WANNA ROCK! Mashing the buttons is fun, and I’m sure if I play this non-stop for hours my fingers would start to hurt just as much as with the guitar.
The game play is similar to all the other musical rhythm matching games before it. You’ve got the same tapping, the same build-up of 1x to 4x point bonuses, and it also includes a neat “lane-based” bonus multiplier that makes for an interesting enhancement. Then, as your “Blitz Meter” gets full, the tapping gets faster. This is entertaining when watching other people play, and nerve-racking when you are playing. The longer you play, the more “Cred” you get and the more coins you earn. These are the really innovative parts of the game, and like the controller, they have their good and bad effects on the game.
The power-ups are pretty sweet. You have overdrive, just like the other Rock Band games, purple-note power ups, and track-based power-ups. These can really make your score higher, and if you’re playing against others, it’s the only way to win. Timing and consistency really pay off when you focus on the power ups. For me, it was all about keeping my cool and planning when and where to use my coins to activate some of them. Again, it’s all about practice. They also open some mini-games, but I didn’t really focus on them. For my taste, the power ups weren’t helpful to gameplay. My son disagreed with me, and thought they made the play a little more entertaining and mixed things up enough to keep things kooky and fun.
The coins seem like an afterthought. The coins can let you use the power-ups on a track, but really are just focusing your attention more on your final score, and less on your ability to really rock out during a song. I don’t think they add much to the game play, and kind of killed it for me and my friends when playing in a group. Maybe some of you will like that option, but I just thought it killed some of the direct versus opportunities.
Playing online is thought out but not overtly entertaining. There is an annoying requirement that you have a Facebook account. The “Rock Band World” Facebook application is free, and lets you challenge your friends. The interface seems to push you towards this type of play, but it’s not a direct real-time competition – it’s more of a one-up competition where you just take turns trying to beat each other’s score.
The best part of the game is its simplicity. I can play all my old Rock Band 3 tracks in the comfort of my chair – no need to stand up and hold a “full size” arcade guitar. And that’s also this games weakest feature – you don’t have that same feeling playing it. It’s like an arcade version of an arcade game.
So, if you like the genre, and think you’d like playing the game on a standard controller, I think you’d enjoy this game. If you never liked the rhythm games, don’t start with this one – there’s not much new that would bring you into enjoying it any more than you already don’t.