|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Rock Band Blitz does not feel like a traditional Rock Band game. While a sense of rhythm does play in to the overall strategy of the game, Blitz is actually more of a strategy game than a rhythm game. Weird eh? Like other Rock Band titles, your goal is to get the highest score possible. However, you won't rack up thousands of points through manual dexterity and memorization. Instead, you'll rack up points through planning and forethought. So if you're looking for the next great rhythm game, look elsewhere. However if you are looking for an interesting music themed strategy game, then this is the game for you.
The controls of Rock Band Blitz are actually very simple. You play with a standard controller and surf along two-note streams. Yes, every music stream in Rock Band Blitz has only two notes, a right note, and a left note. You can set up your controller in many different ways, assigning these notes to triggers, d-pad, face buttons, and more, but it's all just a matter of comfort.
As you can imagine, Blitz's two-note streams are simplified versions of the normal note streams you'd play in a traditional Rock Band title. They aren't very hard to follow at all, and if you stuck to one note stream the whole game, you'd probably 100% every song you play. However, Blitz gives you far more than one note stream to juggle per game. It gives you five.
Yes, each song has five completely different note streams, signifying drums, bass, guitar, vocals, and keyboard. You can switch between these streams mid-game to play other elements of the song. When you do, the rest of the song fades into the background and your chosen instrument is boosted in volume so you can keep the beat better. Playing the vocals stream and every song will sound almost like an a cappella hit, while playing the bass stream makes every song sound like it was played by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
As you play each stream, your point multiplayer rises for that instrument until it eventually reaches a cap. At this point, you can no longer get score boosts for that particular track until you play other tracks as well. If you manage to raise your score multiplier on all instruments, the score cap raises, and you're asked to do it all over again.
Managing the different note streams is the name of the game in Rock Band Blitz. Say you are playing a song like "Bohemian Rhapsody," which has long instrumental breaks. If you don't raise the instrumental multiplier level before you hit these breaks, you will be stuck with a low multiplier cap for a good portion of the song. Add to this score bonuses during significant parts of the song like guitar or vocal solos, and the game ends up being a constant tug-of-war between raising your lower score multipliers and resting on your highest multiplier to get the most points. This is actually harder than it looks. Resting on a keyboard track to raise its multiplier level may sound like a good idea, but if the keyboard notes are sparse and you are passing up a thrashing guitar solo to do it, then you may be giving up more points than you would earn by increasing your multiplier cap.
To add even more variety to the mix, Rock Band Blitz adds power-ups, which you can assign to a loadout that you equip before each song. Each loadout has three slots for an overdrive power-up, a note power-up, and a track power-up.
Overdrive power-ups activate when you build up your overdrive meter (see, Star Power) during the course of the game. Glowing notes build up the meter, just as they do in other Rock Band titles. The catch is that these glowing notes are dispersed along all five note streams so you'll have to switch quite frequently to hit them. Overdrive power-ups tend to be incredibly powerful, having effects like clearing several notes ahead of you at once, or causing a computer controlled A.I. bandmate to play another track alongside you for a brief period of time.