[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Harmonix” publishers=Harmonix”” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”August 29, 2012″]
With little innovation and lots of plastic instruments gathering dust, the music game genre boomed and busted much like the DotCom bubble of the late 90’s. Activision was banging out release after release of the Guitar Hero franchise and Harmonix was doing the same with Rock Band while not as frequently, it came to a point much like Don McLean sang in American Pie and it was “the day the music died.” Harmonix appreciates the commitment fans have had with the Rock Band series and large chunk of DLC we all still have gathering metaphorical dust on our hard drives. They want to put that DLC to use and hopefully get us buy a little bit more and that is where Rock Band Blitz comes into the picture.
Sometimes innovation is knowing when it is ok to bring gameplay styles of the past to the modern era of gaming. Back in 2003, Harmonix had a little gem of a PS2 game in Amplitude where the player controlled a ship and moved between note tracks for different instruments hitting the beats to score points. It was a highly addictive game that set up Harmonix to create Guitar Hero and later Rock Band. Rock Band Blitz takes many ideas found in Amplitude and adds it to the Rock Band formula to create a game that is not played with our dust gathering instruments but with a controller and high score is the name of the game.
Blitz takes the drum, lead guitar, bass, keyboard, and vocal tracks of a song and lays them down as if they are lanes on a highway. If a song does not contain one of the above tracks then it is null and void during gameplay leaving the player transitioning between any number of tracks between 3 and 5. Each track has a left and right section that notes can be played on. You hit the corresponding buttons for left and right as the note crosses the little strip like marker. Move the marker to another track to play it instead. Playing notes builds up multipliers on each track. As you cross the checkpoints in the song a.k.a transparent walls, the min multiplier raises to the lowest track and the max raises the same amount. You can raise the tracks no higher than 3 above the low-end of the current scale. This forces the player to play all tracks rather than sticking to one or two if they want to build a high score.
The controls can seem a bit inaccurate due to the speed of the notes at some points. It often felt like you were just button mashing in the hopes of hitting a note. There are a couple of different control schemes that involved the triggers, bumper buttons, analog sticks, and d-pad but none truly felt comfortable. Fully customizable controls would have been a huge plus for this type of game so every player can find something comfortable.
Blitz has Blitz Cred and Coins that you can by playing songs. Earn enough cred to unlock different power ups that can be used to raise your score. Power ups cost coins to use each time. Power ups are contained in 3 categories Overdrive, Note, and Track. Overdrive power ups include things like 2x multiplier and virtual band mate. They are filled via the typical white overdrive notes as found in previous Rock Band games. Note power ups tend to be destructive in nature and are activated by playing the purple notes. They include fun power ups like bomb which will blow up all nearby notes. The last category Track, include things that will increase the score all through out the track like higher points for drum notes or sync points that gain you extra points by transitioning to a new track at that point.
Rock Band Blitz is a social game. Leaderboards are found on each song and while playing you can see the next guy on your friends list in the top right. There is a score war feature that allows you to challenge friends to a high score match on any song for 3 days. The winner gets more cred and coin. The game also contains Facebook connectivity to Rock Band World where you can socialize even more and view stats.
By default Blitz comes with 25 tracks spanning the decades. These tracks can easily be imported into the other Rock Band games as they are a separate download from inside the game. So even if you don’t like the gameplay of Blitz, you get 25 new tracks for 15 bucks for your other Rock Band Games.
Rock Band Blitz is a refreshing downloadable release that allows Rock Band fans to get more mileage out of all the DLC and previous Rock Band games that they bought. Unfortunately the plastic instruments will continue gathering dust but that might be a good thing as it will bring those not gifted at fake instrument play into the Rock band fold.