A year ago, the music game genre was at its peak. Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour had recently launched to rave reviews, and looking back, it appears that the developers of those games -- Harmonix and Neversoft, respectively -- saw the success of their products as a mandate to churn out rhythm games at a faster pace.
LEGO Rock Band (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Wii, DS)
The game disc features only 45 songs, a far cry from the 84 tracks included in Rock Band 2 (and even 13 fewer selections than the original Rock Band). Granted, LEGO Rock Band is “value-priced” at $49.99, and you can export all of the on-disc songs to your PS3 or 360 hard drive for use in Rock Band or Rock Band 2. But that’ll run you $10 for 45 songs, whereas the song export key for 55 of Rock Band’s 58 songs cost $5. Speaking of the game’s songs, the LEGO Rock Band soundtrack is all over the place. Harmonix apparently wanted to include a wide enough variety in the set list to ensure that fans of all kinds of music would find something to enjoy, but here, it just comes off as scattershot. And LEGO Rock Band seems to have a higher percentage of music that I’d term just plain bad, which doesn’t help.
Soundtrack idiosyncrasies aside, LEGO Rock Band is relatively similar to prior Rock Band games. The meat and potatoes is, as always, the Story Mode, which follows the same basic non-linear structure as the career mode in Rock Band 2: you play songs to earn money (“studs” instead of cash, here) and unlock better transportation to new venues, which are different locations in the story instead of cities. To their credit, Harmonix and Traveller’s Tales did a great job infusing the career mode with LEGO-ness; I couldn’t help but laugh at the funny, cute story cut-scenes and little LEGO dudes. And LEGO Rock Band introduces a LEGO-ized fail mechanic, too. You can’t actually fail songs, regardless of difficulty, but if you miss enough notes, you’ll lose all the studs you’ve accrued to that point in the song. However, you can regain them by getting back on track. It’s essentially like rings in Sonic the Hedgehog.
Ultimately, I couldn’t shake the feeling that all of this amounts to little more than window dressing. And that’s the main problem with this game, a microcosm of the current state of the music game genre. A lot of work clearly went into crafting the Story Mode, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a different package for the same old Rock Band setup: play songs, buy stuff to outfit your band with, and travel to other places where you play more songs. This is the fourth full-band game from Harmonix (not counting Rock Band Unplugged for the PSP), and the core mechanic, while still fun, is getting stale by now. There are enough great songs on the disc to entice people to buy the game as a track pack to be exported to their console’s hard drive, but the LEGO branding doesn’t change up the experience enough to convince me that the 45 songs here couldn’t have been released as DLC. Hopefully, Rock Band 3 will.
THE VERDICT - Lego Rock Band
Reviewed by Samit Sarkar
|11:00 AM on 05.17.2013|
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