Product Type: Warner Bros. Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... approximately 5 or 6 preset characters. Oh and you can change the colour of their outfits - that obviously makes all the difference. *ro... more
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Lego Rock Band - Game Only (Xbox 360)
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Lego Rock Band - Game Only (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Most features from Rock Band 2 are intact, and there's a pretty good setlist backing the game.
Disadvantages: No online play, limited number of songs in the game can cause repetition in tour, poor customization
Lego Rock Band
The rhythm genre, which once was a quiet genre, has since become a mammoth in recent years after the major sales of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. 2009, however, is sadly the year the genre has become crowded, with several Guitar Hero releases including Metallica, Smash Hits and Band Hero. However Rock Band has been a bit steadier with only The Beatles Rock Band and Rock Band Unplugged on the PSP. The third entry into Rock Band this year is Lego Rock Band, which most considered to be a mere cash-in. After all, Lego games sell well and Rock Band games sell well so it's a wise money choice, but does it make for a decent game?
Lego Rock Band is built on the same engine which powered the legendary Rock Band 2, meaning it's off to a good start. Players can jump into quickplay, form a band in the story mode, and access all the other features from Rock Band 2 such as drum trainer, practice and music store. However, Lego Rock Band has cut out online from the equation completely. Players can't jam out in career or quickplay via Xbox Live and there aren't even any leaderboards to compare scores with players around the globe. Kids and parents might not care much, but those who thrived on forming a band by searching through Xbox Live will be sorely disappointed.
While online will be missed, the career mode has been spruced up a fair bit to be a bit more 'exciting'. You form a band and play a variety of gigs including one song sets, create-a-setlists gigs where you can choose your own songs and gigs which pick songs randomly. However there are new kinds of gigs too. Most notable is the Rock Power Challenges, which are special gigs where it's not about gaining a high score but playing through a song to make something happen, like escaping an angry securi-rex or destroying a seemingly invincible building. There's no star power here and, as I'll explain later, it's one of the few chances you can actually fail at a song. It's interesting watching the power of rock change the way the background clip plays, but some may find it hard to watch when they're actually playing the game.
Aside from that, career hasn't really changed much. You just play at one location until you unlock a rock power challenge, complete it and move on. Dozens of other gigs, however, populate each location, and actually trying to complete every gig will take some time. To basically 'complete' the game could take you around 5 or so hours, but to unlock every gig and attain everything in the game could triple that time or more. And it's worth doing so, because the more gigs you play, the more items you'll unlock to customize not only your rockers, but your entire entourage of manager and any workers you hire, as well as your 'rock den', the career's main hub. It's nifty that you can enter freeplay and practice from this hub, and then return once done.
However what ultimately bogs down Lego Rock Band is that it becomes repetitive quite quickly, especially if you don't have any Downloadable songs. Rock Band 2 kept things fresh with 84 songs, but Lego Rock Band sports only 45. It's also worth noting the randomising system is a bit lackluster, as two gigs in a row I had to play through Good Charlotte's 'Boys and Girls', and I wanted to cave my skull in because it's not fun playing the same songs again and again. However, this can be helped if you happen to be a fan of DLC. The game has its own music store as well, but Lego Rock Band is a family friendly game, meaning a lot of songs have been cut from Rock Band 2's store of 1000 songs. You won't be playing Metallica, Dead Kennedys or even Weezer anytime soon.
It's worth noting though that Lego Rock Band does have a very good setlist, albiet one that's short. The game spans from old to new, whether it's Queen's We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions or Bon Jovi's You Give Love a Bad Name. The new comes from a lot of indie rock and pop rock like Incubus, Pink and Counting Crows. There's likely to be a song here for everyone, and there are definately songs everyone will like, thanks to cult classics like Kung Fu Fighting, Final Countdown and more. Some songs can be duds because they don't have a lot of instrument playing to them, and the note charts for We Will Rock You are retarded, but unlike the recent Band Hero, it manages to include songs which actually have guitar on them, rather than ludicrous keyboard solos. Some may call this list either diverse or completely scattered.
The core gameplay has also seen some shake ups, which is why Lego Rock Band goes beyond being a mere cash-in. Because this is a more child friendly game, there have been some inclusions to make the game less challenging. A new super easy difficulty means you can strum on guitar or bass without hitting notes, hit the pads on the drums any way you want with autokick enabled and sing without any real pitch or quality and get 100%. It's basically beginner mode on Guitar Hero. It's also worth noting that, aside from the Rock Power Challenges, you can't fail on Lego Rock Band. Screw up too much and you enter recovery mode, where hitting the notes will mean gaining points, or studs, taken away from you when you fail. It's an interesting version of the 'No fail' option from Rock Band 2, but an option to turn it off would have been nice.
One area which die-hard Lego game players may be disappointed with is the custiomization options. Yes, you can choose from preset templates for your character, but most of them are stuck with the same yellow skin colour meaning some faces that are white or black look completely stupid and force you to specific clothing. There's no building your own instruments, items to put in the rock den or any building at all. Even vehicles you unlock during the course of the game can't be customized or built yourself, making the Lego elements somewhat disappointing.
While customization isn't its strong suit, the development team have done a decent job at bringing the Lego to life during the funny cutscenes, and onstage the animation is okay, though you'll notice the drumming animation is pretty damn slow and stiff. It's just not really consistant, because when you can hear bass playing in the background the bassist is just stood there like a lemon sometimes, most notably on your extra downloaded songs. And it's disappointing that the world surrounding the Lego Characters remains to be bland and realistic, rather than entirely built out of Lego. The sound, however, is strong because every song is a master version so there's no lame covers. The garbled mumbers of the Lego characters during cutscenes is still funny to see.
Is Lego Rock Band good, bad or ugly?
It's hard to judge Lego Rock Band. On the one hand, it's got most of the features from Rock Band 2, has an entertaining setlist, let's you import that setlist to Rock Band 2 (for a price) and is a solid and well built game. Yet the small setlist causes repetition, the animation onstage could be better and there's just an air of lazy surrounding the game. It's better than some of the lazy spin-offs like Band Hero or Guitar Hero Hits, but it's still just something to tide us over until Harmonix actually decide to release Rock Band 3. Until then, consider this a cheaper way to play, as it only costs £30, but just remember you're getting what you paid for-a cheaper version of Rock Band 2. And without and instrument bundle to go with it, you need to be into the Rock Band/Guitar Hero genre to start with.
Lego Rock Band was released on November 27th for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii and DS. It is rated 7+ for 'fear' and can be bought for about £30-40 depending where you buy it.
Summary: Will be great fun for kids and adults together, but not so much for lone players.