Let's face it, most of us packed up our Rock Band instruments some time ago. It was fun for a while, but we ran out of space in the living room and patience for all those spin-offs. It's sensible, then, that Harmonix should return to its peripheral-shunning roots with Rock Band Blitz, a game those of us old enough to remember the dev's brilliant PS2 titles Frequency and Amplitude will find wonderfully familiar.
The focus has shifted: it's no longer about performance, but about score-chasing, and instead of a single instrument you're responsible for several, spread across a multi-lane highway. You won't be able to play every note for every part, but that doesn't matter as long as you're hitting the gems in your current lane. You may only have left and right notes to worry about, but don't be fooled into thinking it's easy: you'll need to memorise the different rhythms for every part of the song, while hopping across lanes like Frogger on a Haribo sugar rush.
It's a delightfully tricky exercise in plate-spinning, complicated further by the need to keep every instrument up to speed to maximise your score. Each song has multiple checkpoints where your maximum multiplier increases, assuming all instruments have reached a certain performance level. If you've neglected a tricky drum part or forgotten about the keyboards then your score is limited until the next threshold.
With just a single difficulty level, it's a steep learning curve: five-star performances are hard-earned, and you'll need to make smart use of power-ups, hitting Overdrive notes to bring in a bandmate to play one part while you concentrate on another instrument, or setting off explosive notes that clear any nearby gems, making for smoother shifts.
Mastering a song is a lengthy process but that only makes earning that hallowed fifth star more satisfying than ever. And with 25 tracks - not to mention support for every single song in the Rock Band store - this could potentially keep your thumbs busy for months.
A welcome throwback with some clever twists
- A terrific, eclectic soundtrack
- An inventive spin on the music game
- Enormously satisfying to master
- Reminds us of Amplitude
- Transitions tricky to judge