Review: Rock Band Blitz - Xbox 360 version tested
Say hi to the newest member of the Rock Band ensemble – Rock Band Blitz. This is a new, downloadable title from developers Harmonix that is more simple and less expensive than previous games in the Rock Band series. And what a series it is. Many gamers across the world now have their lounges cluttered up like the guys in the Big Bang Theory, with plastic guitars, drums and more. The Rock Band series surely became the undisputed king of in-game micro-transactions. Players could browse a huge library of 3,500+ songs, downloading their favourites for a pound or so each to be played in-game.
Rock Band 3, the last full release in the series, even allowed for the connection of a MIDI connector and 'real' instruments such as pro drums with cymbals, keyboards and even a one-off real electric guitar – a customised Squier Stratocaster. These are now highly sought-after collectables in their own right and change hands on eBay for £300 or thereabouts…
So the series was getting a little… deep. Time to bring it back to accessible gameplay-lite and that’s what we have here. For a start, the game is cheap – around £10 to download on Xbox Live and Playstation Network. Next – the game is compatible with any previously downloaded Rock Band DLC. So all of your songs from Rock Band 2, 3, whatever – will work with this.
Finally – the game is not compatible with any instruments. It is all done through the player’s joypad. Let me repeat that – no instruments. So no fake plastic guitars leaning up against the wall. This really is a different proposition. So how does it play?
Simple to grasp, but tricky to master? Definitely. The graphics are familiar – there are five tracks that stream towards the player on screen. These are drums, bass, guitar, keyboard (if applicable) and vocals. You can pick with track you want to play in – say, like the guitar track on the intro to Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) by Jimi Hendrix. Within that track, the notes you have to play are very simply represented – left and right.
So, all you do is hammer your joypad buttons – left, left, left, right, right right as required, accumulating points until the time is right to jump into another track. Here is where the strategic element of the game comes in – if you know there is a drum solo coming up – jump into that track so you can rack up more points. The game will reward you for jumping from track to track, racking up points from all over the song.
Sure, there’s all sorts of power ups and bonuses along the way, but that’s the gist of it. Sound fun? Well… dammit it is. It’s way more fun than it has any right to be. The challenge of being accurate and on time, more so than the last attempt, never goes away. On top of that, there is fierce leaderboard competition – during every run, the next friend’s score from your online friends list is shown, as a rival to aim at – very effective.
And it’s cheap, when downloaded it’s always stored on your console’s hard drive – if you’re bored between bouts of a full-price game, just exit it and have a quick blast on this – no matter what game disc is in the drive.
The game does come with a soundtrack of 20 or so songs, but the choice of songs to download is incredible! A lot of genres are covered, but admittedly rock and metal have by far the most choice. No problem for me – I was able to find songs I loved from groups as diverse as Alestorm, Cannibal Corpse, a bit of Nirvana and even the live version of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) performed at Woodstock that I like. But there is a bit of everything here, from 60’s to pop, electronic, hip hop and a fair bit of death metal if you like (I do).
How to sum it up…? Do you like tapping on tables with your fingers when you hear a song that you like? If so, buy this game! You can do the same against your friends, with the songs you like for the challenge of beating high scores!
It’s a lot of fun – cheap and challenging yet not too involved. I like it a lot.
Rock Band: Blitz is out now to download on Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network, price approx. £10.00.