It's no secret that I love Harmonix. I love their games, their community team, their philosophy on gaming, and their approach to the untried and risky instead of playing it safe and by the books. Every time I hear someone curse DLC as the worst thing to happen to gaming, I shake my head and think of Harmonix, which proved that DLC can be an extremely fundamental part of gaming. Unfortunately, these high standards will cause people to look at their latest title, Rock Band Blitz, and declare it as a Audiosurf/Frequency/Amplitude/Rock Bad Unplugged rip-off. At the surface, this statement is very true. You're hitting notes using a controller and switching between lanes in order to get as many points as you can. However when looking at gaming history, Rock Band Blitz would probably be seen as the first fully fledged Facebook game.
Make no mistake, this game is built for consoles, meant to be played on consoles, and Facebook isn't necessary to experience the balls out fun that Blitz has to offer. However, I STRONGLY encourage you to connect your Facebook account to the game to experience what it has to offer. If you're an antisocial individual that wants nothing to do with the social aspects of Facebook, just make an account, set it so nobody sees you, connect Blitz to it and just forget about it. Connecting your Facebook account allows you to attempt goals with friends, set up duels with friends and strangers to see who can get a higher score, set up a wishlist for DLC purchases, and track your ingame stats.There is definitely room for improvement, however. Anyone can join your goals and mooch off of your points, Score Wars aren't customizable, and you can't Score War with someone on a different console as of the time of writing. The cynic would ask why all of this information couldn't have been provided in game, which would definitely be a fair question. Some of the experience like setting up Score Wars, which could be done extremely awkwardly ingame, feels like it could have been plastered onto the game itself. However, at its core Rock Band Blitz was built as a game that uses Facebook as a foundation for its philosophy.This is made evident by the currency the game provides you after completing songs, which can be gained in large amounts after completing Facebook goals, setting up Score Wars, etc. How well Harmonix encourages you to use Facebook is beyond frightening, in less than a weekend I was already an admin in a 23 people Facebook group discussing the game and challenging one another. As one of our Rock Band regulars said
"Who would have thought that a single player game would bring a community based on a multi-player game closer than said multi-player game?"
Ironically, I would compare the Facebook integration to the use of guitar controllers in previous Guitar Hero titles, like Guitar Hero 3. You COULD play the game with the controller but playing on the guitar is a much more satisfying experience. It's ironic, because the gameplay in Blitz is nothing but satisfying. The game is fast paced, rewarding, and appealing as getting high scores to beat your friends and smashing goals is extraordinarily fun. I found myself going to sleep at 2 am and waking up 7 hours later just to get my Blitz fix. Unforunately, the game's problems become apparent with the gameplay. First off, this game is challenging. I never declare a game's challenge as a problem with the game unless it's well deserved (shoddy curves, improper pacing, unfair or fake difficulty, or lack of engagement), and the game's challenge feels contradictory to the audience it's trying to capture. Getting great scores is definitely not an easy task, and casuals who demand constant statements of them rocking will not be pleased with the reality of them sucking initially. The game does have a learning curve, but I feel that by the time casuals start getting good at the game, they would have already given up and gone to play something else. Another part of the gameplay that may seem off putting is the VAST amount of on screen information being thrown at you at all times. The game definitely does feel overwhelming to an onlooker as they see and endless sea of notes and only one lane to score them in. It's not a flaw, but it does feel a bit unsettling considering the audience the game is targeted towards. The game's menus share this characteristic, as every single menu is flowing with information. Seeing as there are multiple menus, each filled to the brim with text, this could definitely be seen as off-putting.
Another one of the game's issues would be navigating its song sorting. Gone are the days of filters, album sorting, and ratings (the latter which I used extensively). Setlists are strangely gone as well, however the time it takes between picking songs is extremely insignificant, which always leaves to fluid song choices. The songs themselves are in small to read font, which definitely is an issue when it comes to playing with other people at parties and anybody who is used to Rock Band 3's navigation will curse their muscle memory as they'll accidentally go to another menu. Lastly, the game also doesn't save the last song/sorting from your last play which is very disappointing considering I remember this being heavily requested to be patched in Rock Band 3, going to your last song choice could remind you of the goals you were doing, and there's a specific way I like to be greeted by songs. The game also features DRM out of all things, not allowing you to gain coins if you're not connected to the Internet. It definitely feels out of place, but you can still play the core game without problems if you lose your connection.
As for the 25 song list... it's very geared towards modern listeners, but they're an absolute BLAST to play on Blitz. With the exception of probably Shout and We Are Young, every song is extremely fun to play with their unique quirks to get you engaged in the game. My favorite part of the game is allowing every song to have different approaches for getting a high score. Different solutions towards the same problem allows for discussion outside the game, which is an excellent way to promote gaming culture as a whole. The variety of power-ups suits varying playstyles ranging from by the book people who take no risks in life to high rollers who would risk it all to win the big jackpot with a roll of the dice. Finding the style that suits you is extremely fun and the strategic elements can not be be missed.
As a whole, the game is a fantastic value and a fantastic package for its 15 dollar price tag. With the potential of infinite replay value thanks to DLC (I have over 700 hours in Rock Band 3), goals, Score Wars, etc as well as all of the songs being immediately playable in Rock Band 3, it's amazing how much value this title has. ESPECIALLY considering song downloads are usually 2 dollars each, even if the thought of Blitz repulses you, the amount of compatibility it has with Rock Band 3 is great. However, with the amazing friends I've made thanks to this game, I couldn't give it anything less than a glowing recommendation. It might even be better than Castle Crashers. MIGHT BE.
But seriously, We Are Young is awful.