LEGO Rock Band


posted 12/29/2009 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
One Page Platforms: 360
The Rock Band franchise, and the Guitar Hero franchise for that matter, are an interesting gaming concept. Although the titles have distinct differences – mainly in their music selection – they share the same premises and gameplay concepts. LEGO Rock Band is not excluded from this fact. You pick a song, you hit a note when its time comes, and you play music. And that's the main gist of the game.

This line of games is by no means bad or boring, but they eventually become monotonous and amount to only being useful in certain scenarios. For me, and – from where I can tell – for many others, the Rock Band games are always busted out when company is over. It’s the usual cheese and crackers and Rock Band platter to keep everyone entertained.   We nibble on snacks, and get some guitar and drum action going on to feel like rock stars. And I do indeed feel like a rock star. I don’t have any musical talent of my own – minus being able to pick out a good song or album to listen to – so the experience of playing music is a fun one. I personally broke in my guitar fingers on Guitar Hero II, and I remember not being able to put the game down at the time. Eventually, however, the novelty wears off and all you have left is a party favor. Again, LEGO Rock Band is not excluded from this fact.

This particular title of the Rock Band franchise is adorned with various LEGO characters and characteristics. The notes are indicated by LEGO pieces, the avatars are LEGO characters – the combination of which I’m sure makes for a nice aesthetic to a “family-friendly” Rock Band game. Wait, but aren’t all the Rock Band games fairly family-friendly?

LEGO Rock Band does try to change the idea of gameplay a bit, but unfortunately by no means is this change innovative. For one thing, in order to progress through the game and achieve new gigs to play, you’ll have to spend your LEGO money (aka Studs) on new vehicles to help you travel and an entourage to help you with various tasks. You might argue: but this adds to the realism of being in a struggling band! Ok, maybe. I didn’t really get this game for its realism, though. I got it because it’s fun to hit buttons when the screen tells me to, and to see how well I can do it while wielding a controller that looks like a guitar. I think that part is pretty awesome, and I feel pretty awesome doing it. The challenge should lie in the actual gameplay of playing the music, not in working towards being able to play the sets themselves.

They’ve also tried their hands at something of a storyline – another aspect of video games that is unnecessary in this particular genre of games. In some ways, this storyline does add flavor to the gameplay in terms of background scenes while you play. Here, I’m referring to the LEGO Rock Band exclusive feature of Rock Power Challenges. Every so often you’ll come across a cut scene portraying a particular scenario: a farmer crying over decrepit crops, your band enraging the Securi-T-Rex at the Dino Hotel, etc. In Rock Power Challenges, you’ll be using the power of rock to help you fend off your problems. I was helping the construction workers tear down a building with rock n’roll, and fighting off ghouls in a haunted mansion. Although I don’t always pay attention to background scenes when playing a game like Rock Band, being that I’m usually too focused on the notes, no one wants to look at a blank screen with a rolling set of notes. I will give credit where credit is due and tell you that they get the cuteness factor, which is appropriate given its family-natured pretense. The cut scenes and background action during gameplay are definitely unique compared with games of a similar genre. Even the music for these special rock challenges is fitting, like “Ghostbusters” for fighting off the rude ghosts.

This was one gameplay aspect that I did find interesting. These Rock Power Challenges were key to keeping the game in a forward progression, but relied solely on my performance and put me through certain gigs that I had to achieve a certain number of stars on to have been considered successful and be allowed to move on to the next venue. This includes the various non-Rock Power Challenge gigs, but with similar cute back-stories. Maybe the folks over at LEGO City Station are missing you, or one of the construction workers has a birthday going on. My only issue with the Rock Power Challenges, however, is if you’re playing with another musician, which I would imagine that being in a rock band you are apt to be doing. It will force you to take turns playing the challenge, and give each of you the boring task of watching the other play.
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