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PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii, PS2, DS
ESRB RATING: E
DEVELOPER: Harmonix/Traveler’s Tales
PUBLISHER: Warner Bros and MTV Games
It’s a simple enough concept- if you’re going to make a Rock Band game that caters to kids, who better to join up with than Traveler’s Tales and their Lego license? For the most part it’s a successful pairing, but your ear drums make take a beating along the way.
In the story mode you once again play a band on the up and up, starting from small gigs and leading to tours around the world. The gimmick here of course is that you’re playing throughout famous Lego settings, taking Lego vehicles to Lego stages, playing Lego instruments with your customizable Lego characters. It’s all very cute and happy and the song selections reflect that.
This is the family-friendly Rock Band, you see, and you won’t see any suggestive lyrics here. For example, you can play your already-downloaded songs in the game, but a good portion of them simply won’t show up. It’s a disappointment if you were hoping to have Lego characters perform Cannibal Corpse’s Hammer Smashed Face, as I was.
The game is basically a Rock Band expansion so everything plays as you’d expect, the only differences being a Super Easy mode for kids (which lets you just strum or hit any note on the drums) and the fact that it’s near impossible to fail a song, as you can buy you way back in by playing the next few lines correctly. So there’s no real surprises as far as gameplay.
The absolute best new addition to the game are the Challenge levels. After getting a certain amount of stars in a venue you’ll unlock a Challenge stage, one where you won’t have any star power and will have to use the forces of rock to get something done- anything from blowing up a building to kickstarting a UFO to escaping from a rampaging T-Rex. It’s choreographed to the particular song and incredibly fun to watch, and they’re smart because they allow all the instruments to take turns and see what’s going on. It’s so much fun to watch things happening in the background as you rock, and makes you think what a shame it was they went for a more realistic setting in Rock Band. No one really cares about pretending to be a real rock star while smacking around plastic instruments, so why not go crazy with the fantasy aspect? It’s just a shame that the soundtrack isn’t more rocking… no one wants to watch a medieval battle choreographed to a Pink song.
A music game lives and dies by its selection of songs, and this game almost gets buried by the amount of emo crap they’ve loaded on here. There are the gimmicky songs that will sure to be crowd pleasers, stuff like Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters and Queen’s We Will Rock You, songs that sound perfect for the game until you play them and realize that you’re playing the same riff over and over. There’s light fare like the Spin Doctor’s Two Princes and Blur’s Song 2 that will get many people playing.
CHUDTIP- Familiar stock characters from Rock Band appear in the game, like Moosejaw here.
So don’t get me wrong- there are some truly fantastic songs here. Some you will undoubtedly want to add to your regular Rock Band collection like Elton John’s Crocodile Rock, Jimi Hendrix’s Fire, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, but for all the good songs there are far more bad- garbage like Lostprophets, Good Charlotte and All-American Rejects. You know, the whiny “My girlfriend doesn’t understand and highschool sucks” crap that will make your testicles retreat far into your body.
You can download all the songs to your hard drive, but there’s a catch. Each game comes with a code that can only be used once, and it costs 10 bucks to buy the license. Your best bet is to find a friend has it and doesn’t want his code, because 45 songs is a steal at that price, even if you’ll never play two-thirds of them.
The notes are little Lego bricks!
CHUDTIP- As always, hit the star power (or Overdrive or whatever you call it) at the same time for big points.
The look is exactly the same as the other Lego titles, with plenty of cutscenes showcasing their trademark humor. There are tons of Lego versions of bands (Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Queen, Blur and Spinal Tap) and it adds to the experience. It’s a fine looking game, and the music sounds as great as ever.
The story mode will take you forever to beat. The problem here is that with so few songs (and truncated DLC) you’ll end up replaying the same ones over and over through the game, something Harmonix still hasn’t learned isn’t fun. Thankfully all the songs are available in quick play right away.
Don’t expect any replay via online multiplayer, however, because it’s missing entirely.
CHUDTIP- There is a ton of stuff to buy, and all of your characters can be completely customized. Just don’t let your friends catch you playing with Legos.
You can purchase more “clean” Rock Band songs through their Rock Shop, so if you’ve got a kid you can be safe in knowing that they won’t be hearing any exciting devil music.
It’s a shame the soundtrack is all over the place, because they’ve done some interesting things with the game here. The Challenges are a great idea, one that I hope they bring back for future Rock Band games.
Still, if you’re getting a music game for your kids, pick this over Band Hero, which will drive you absolutely insane with its selections. At least with this one you’ll want to jump in and play with them on occasion.