Product Type: Warner Bros. Xbox 360 games
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Lego Rock Band - Game Only (Xbox 360)
Member Name: hogsflesh
Lego Rock Band - Game Only (Xbox 360)
Advantages: The songs are as nicely done, as in other Rock Band games
Disadvantages: There aren't enough songs, and the navigation and cut-scenes are really annoying
This is the latest release in both the popular Lego game franchise and the popular Rock Band franchise. As you might imagine, it's basically Rock Band, but all the characters are made of Lego. Quite what the point of this is meant to be, conceptually, is anyone's guess. Somehow it seems to make a lot less sense than Lego Star Wars, although there's no rational reason why I should feel that way.
The gameplay is just the same as Rock Band, so obviously if you like that game you will - at worst - not mind this one, and at best enjoy it. The songs are typically well adapted to the format. Seeing little Lego figures jumping around playing guitars and singing has a certain appeal, especially the Lego versions of real bands (the Lego Queen and Iggy Pop are pretty good). One real weakness is the lack of different game modes - it's quick play or story mode and nothing else. Most baffling is the lack of any kind of online multiplayer - while four of you can play in someone's living room, you can't hook up with friends or strangers around the world to play together or against one another. Given that one of the charms of Rock Band is its multiplayer, and that one of Xbox's strengths is its online play, it seems crazy to not allow it for this game.
The navigation to get to gigs in story mode is really annoying, making you scroll through endless screesn with different types of vehicle on them before letting you get to the newest stuff. Everything also seems to take a long time to load, even with the game installed to the hard-drive. As with other Lego games, there are lots of characters which can be unlocked and, as with Rock Band, there are lots of different costumes and instruments to 'buy' using the Lego money you earn by doing well. While I've nothing against any of this, it doesn't feel as satisfying as unlocking characters in other Lego games I've played (what you might call the 'Dude! I just totally unlocked Bossk!' feeling is absent).
The most annoying thing, though, is that there are only 45 new songs on here. This was also true of The Beatles Rock Band, and I hope it isn't indicative of what we can expect in Rock Band 3, should such a thing ever appear. Luckily it is compatible with other Rock Band songs (up to a point), so I have an extra 100 or so tracks on there. But to have to rely on other songs you've paid for separately to beef up a game strikes me as a pretty shoddy proposition. You also have to pay extra to import the Lego songs onto your regular Rock Band game, which is the main reason I bought it.
The game is aimed at kids. This means they're supposedly not allowing songs with any trace of 'adult' content in the game, presumably as a sop to those parents still worried by stories of teddy boys tearing up cinema seats. But I'm not too sure about this. Do band names not count? ('Daddy, what's an Incubus?' 'Well, son, it's a demon which impregnates ladies as they sleep, causing their souls to be damned for all eternity.') Some of the songs from regular Rock Band that it lets you play can't be described as innocent, leaving me slightly baffled. ('Daddy, why does Mr Mercury like ladies with fat bottoms so much?' 'Well, son, let me put it like this. My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo...')
So what kind of songs do we get? Well, the usual Rock Band mixture of karaoke classics and blander than bland modern stuff. So great tunes like Crash by The Primitives, Kung Fu Fighting, and The Final Countdown rub shoulders with mulch by The Kooks, Counting Crows and KT Tunstall. Rock Band does have the ability to make even the most awful songs fun to play (as with that Killers song from Rock Band 1), and there are a couple of songs I don't like much in real life (Summer of 69 most notably) which are enjoyable to play. There aren't many truly awful songs in the game. It's really only Two Princes by The Spin Doctors that makes me want the world to end.
There are cut scenes, as in all Lego games. I must admit, the sense of humour I found quite charming in Lego Star Wars has now become deeply tiresome. Your little Lego band has various 'wacky' adventures. One of these seems to involve your main character being abducted by aliens and dumped almost naked (and probably bleeding) in the middle of a field. The Ghostbusters sequence is especially annoying. I got particularly annoyed with the 'wacky' adventures of you band's roadies. Roadies are meant to spike girls' drinks and sell drugs, not have 'hilarious' encounters with lobsters.
Still, I guess the humour's meant to appeal to kids, and there's probably something a bit creepy about a grown man even owning this, let alone playing it and judging the quality of its content. It's only about £18 on amazon at the moment, although you'll also need to buy the relevant guitar, drum or microphone controllers. In terms of actually playing the songs, this is every bit as good as any other Rock Band game. It's the sparse setlist and annoying navigation that detract from it.
Summary: A strange addition to the Rock Band series