Calling all Xbox 360 and PS3 players, you are all invited to play a concert but you may not use instruments. The only thing which you can use to play this concert is your faithful gaming controller. Harmonix, creators of games such as Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Dance Central, have this week released a high paced, colourful and intriguing title with Rock Band Blitz which is available for 1200msp via Xbox Live or £8.79 via the PSN store. Harmonix are already known for releasing similar titles such as Rock Band Unplugged, Amplitude and Frequency which all utilised a regular controller with rhythm and timing of buttons being pressed.
From the very beginning you can tell that this game is very much associated with Harmonix’s biggest project, Rock Band (despite the name). The entire 3,500 songs in the Rock Band library are compatible with Blitz and all songs can be played. If, like me, you have downloaded track after track of brilliant Rock Band content, you can play these songs in Blitz. As well as being compatible with all of these songs, Blitz comes with a library of exclusive songs, which can be imported into other Rock Band games. There are 25 songs in total which come with the game and these bands include Avenged Sevenfold, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182 and Iron Maiden.
If you are watching someone playing the game, you don’t see the complexity in the game and how everything depends on timing. The game is beautiful to look at with so many colours flying onto the screen with a great background environment too. The gameplay mechanics involve pressing either left and right thumb sticks to control left and right notes, or to use down on the D-Pad and A (or x if its PS3) in order to play different notes. The interesting mechanic though is that you don’t play just one instrument in order to get the maximum score, if you use LT &RT or L2 & R2 you can switch instrument in order to get the highest score possible. If the song allows, you can play drums, bass, guitar, keyboard and sing all within the same song. For instance, if you are playing a difficult drum section, you can switch to the guitar section for a solo in order to get the most points for the song.
For those who have played either Guitar Hero or Rock Band before, they will know that to maximise your score, you have to activate star-power or overdrive and this is no different. However, as you play through songs you will gain coins and you have to spend these wisely on power-ups. You can choose to use overdrive, but if you don’t have enough coins, you won’t be able to use it. Other power-ups include instrument specific bonuses, added band members who play certain sections for you and bombs which when activated play every note on any certain section. Harmonix have made it known since this game was announced that the main genre of the game was to be an arcade themed title and I believe they have succeeded. It definitely feels like an arcade title.
But this may well be where the downfall of the game is. There is no real purpose to the game. There is no career or story mode, you basically choose a song and try to beat you or your rival’s highest score. This game is perfect for people who love learning ways to play a game and trying to climb leaderboards. Leaderboards are a major part of this game but if they don’t matter to you then it will be a game to play leisurely if you aren’t eager to learn songs. With this game being a single player title, there is no way, other than to play the songs in regular Rock Band titles, to play with your friends. The game also only has one set difficulty which is constant throughout the game.
This game is perfect for gamers who wish to challenge other players on leaderboards and who enjoy a challenge. For Rock Band players who were looking to see what else Harmonix had come up with, this is perfect for the songs alone. DLC is normally 160msp per song and to get 25 for 1200msp, is a good deal itself. For all other gamers, I believe that Rock Band Blitz is good for a period of time but with fall right around the corner, you may become bored quickly and want to look elsewhere. The content, idea and arcade feel of the game is good but the longevity and variety of options aren’t there.
Keep on rockin’!