|System: X360, PS3, Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Traveller's Tales||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Warner Bros. / Harmonix / MTV||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 3, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
When I first heard of LEGO Rock Band, my eye-roll was so intense it was nearly audible - it seemed like the ultimate cash in. However, after jamming through the game's Story mode as the Wanton Daisies (my LEGO rock group), I'm happy to say this game's got legs despite its paired down nature. The LEGO rockers are about as cute and comical as it gets, and there is a wide variety of family-friendly tunes (without being overtly kid-friendly) that is a blast to play. Instead of being a haphazard amalgam of seemingly disparate licenses, LEGO Rock Band feels like a natural off-shoot of the franchise.
First of all, the LEGO characters are awesome. Not only are they charming, but they make the game quite rewarding. As with any LEGO-based video game put out by Tt Games, there are hundreds and even thousands of LEGO body parts and accoutrements to collect and utilize. The game constantly rewards you for good play by giving you studs which can be exchanged at the Rock Shop for new hairstyles, torsos and legs, new instrument pieces, and even decorations for your Rock Den. The item collecting formula can be quite addictive for anyone (it's great fun to change up your little dudes before a new venue), but it is tailor-made for youngsters. For adults, the inclusion of rock icons in LEGO form is brilliant - Queen, David Bowie, even Iggy Pop are all perfectly recreated. Again, these two IPs were masterfully brought together into one package.
Beyond the extreme cuteness factor that LEGO has brought to the party, the gameplay is Rock Band through and through. Up to four members can get together and virtually jam on drums, bass, guitar, and vocals. As you can imagine, the Rock Band controls are very precise and the calibration tool is available if things seem out of step. Note tracks are essentially the same as in the mainline series, but the note bars have been changed out in favor of little LEGO bricks. Nevertheless, hitting high notes, blasting through screeching solos, and getting nasty with drum fills is still part and parcel of the action. Of course, due to the family-friendly nature of the title, the game can be made extremely easy to play. A new difficulty - Super Easy - has been added to the mix along with an interesting drum modifier. Super Easy lets aspiring video game musicians to play along simply by strumming (no fret buttons), banging (any drum head), or singing (no pitch distinction) in time to the notes. For adult players that are getting pretty handy with the drums but are also getting tired out by the bass pedal, a modifier can be selected in the Extras tab on the main menu that automatically works the bass drum for you.
Despite the kid- and casual-friendly touches, the game is chocked full of quality tunes that will appeal to a large variety of people. Artists include Queen, Foo Fighters, Kaiser Chiefs, The All-American Rejects, Pink, Blink 182, Tom Petty, and many more. In all there are 45 songs, all of which can be exported to Rock Band and Rock Band 2 (for a fee, of course). While paying extra seems a bit usurious, it ends up costing the same as any other Rock Band title would because LEGO Rock Band retails for $49.99. Also, as with all Rock Band offerings, the note tracks are nicely synced to the songs, meaning advanced players will still be challenged by the set list regardless of the intended audience.
Naturally, the game has a Free Play and Training option. In Free Play, all your pre-installed Rock Band content is available to play through as well as the game's new content. Training mode is identical to that found in the other titles, letting you practice songs till you attain perfection. The new addition to LEGO Rock Band is that of Story. The game's Story mode follows the wacky exploits of your created band. Unlike Rock Band and Rock Band 2, the tale of a meteoric rise to rock stardom is done through LEGO characters - which means you'll be treated to lots of goofy antics and giggle-inducing cutscenes throughout. At anytime you can change up the look and composition of your band members with acquired loot. Most of the gameplay in Story is similar to that of the original games, but instead of failing out, your band will simply lose points for poor execution. However, activating LEGO Recovery Mode (fueled by Overdrive energy) will allow the band to get lost points back by hitting as many Recovery Gems that appear as possible.