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Jason Picker
17 Dec, 2009

LEGO Rock Band Review

PS3 Review | Rock out with your blocks out.
When Lego Rock Band (or as we like to refer to it, 'Block Band') was first announced, many people immediately dismissed it as a clumsy collaboration between two brands already perceived to be over-saturating the video game market. In reality, the Lego and Rock Band brands fit together pretty well, and is best suited to its target audience – the half a dozen children left in the world who have yet to discover rhythm-based music games.

The majority of people considering this title are probably going to treat it in one of three ways. Veterans of the series with internet connections are more likely to give the game a bit of a look before using it as a track pack that expands their current Rock Band library, thanks to the ability to export the songs from Lego Rock Band to the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 hard drives. Many of these existing Rock Band fans will be unimpressed that a lot of the existing Rock Banddownloadable songs are not compatible with the Lego spin-off though. The second group of people will purchase this game for their young children as an introduction to music-based games, and many of these children are unlikely to be in a position to download more songs that would make this game a worthwhile standalone experience. It’s the third group of people that will get the best value out of this title – those people who buy the game and play it through before downloading the songs to their hard drive to enjoy as part of their current Rock Band parties. Unfortunately, this third group might be a minority as Lego Rock Band is a limited experience that seems to be dividing and confusing the Rock Band fan-base rather than expanding it.

Lego of my plastic guitar, block-head.

Lego of my plastic guitar, block-head.
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Questionable marketing decisions aside, how does Lego Rock Band fair as a standalone game? Pretty well actually; think of it as a lighter version of Rock Band 2… at least for those of us who have imported it, as the Rock Band sequel is still not yet officially available in Australia. The core gameplay of Lego Rock Band is much the same – you can either play alone or with friends as you use the Rock Band or Guitar Hero instruments (either the guitar/bass, drums or microphone) to play and sing through the selection of songs. Players must attempt to match the on-screen notes to the buttons on the guitar/bass or drum peripheral, or must match the pitch of the song if they chose to sing. Players will also need to hit the glowing white notes successfully (or sing them) to build up their ‘overdrive’ metre, which is then used to double the band’s current score multiplier. However, ‘overdrive’ is not used in this spin-off to 'save' your fellow band members if they are struggling with a song. In fact, you can’t actually fail a song at all. But more on that shortly.

For anyone who has ever played a Lego game before, they are ridiculously cute and even the most cynical of gamers will have to smile at the presentation. Everything is themed according to the Lego brand – from the band members and audience, through to the vehicles you’ll use to travel around and rock the world. Even the notes that have to be matched on-screen are shaped like little coloured Lego blocks and the fun facts that pop up in the loading screens are Lego-related. So obviously the presentation is marketed with a younger audience in mind, but what about the changes to the gameplay itself? Well, for a start there is a Super Easy mode for young players. In this mode, players can hit any button on the drum and guitar/bass as they like as long as it is in time with music. The drum also features an auto kick pedal mode as many children will be unable to reach the kick pedal. This feature can also be activated on any difficulty level for those who don’t want to, or can’t, move their feet. The other major change to the gameplay is that you can’t actually fail a song if you play badly. Instead, if your metre reduces to zero, you’ll use up a certain number of Lego studs (which are the same as points in other Rock Band games) that are earned during the game. These studs will be placed on the notes during a ‘recovery’ phase of the song, meaning that not only will you not fail, but you’ll also be able to win your lost studs back. While this is great for the kiddies, we can’t understand why the option wasn’t disabled for the higher difficulty levels like Hard and Expert.


Lego Rock Band builds on the success of the series and makes real connections to younger audiences.

Lego Rock Band builds on the success of the series and makes real connections to younger audiences.
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Keeping with the whole 'kids are precious and we have to give them positive reinforcement even when they suck' theme, Lego Rock Band will never tell you your singing or guitar solo was poor as it did in previous games. Even if you miss every note in a solo, the game will only tell you that you are doing “okay”. The crowd will also not boo you for under performing and there is even a feature that reduces the extended intros and outros of some songs so that the young ones don’t get bored. Games have certainly come a long way from the sink or swim philosophy of mid to late 80s where failure was expected and completing a game was the exception.

The real meat to the game is in the 'Story' mode which as you’d expect is a Lego-themed version of the 'Tour' mode of other Rock Band games. This mode features the usual musical ascension of a band from playing in small venues and to larger locations with more people in attendance. Venues and gigs are unlocked by purchasing vehicles with Lego studs and you'll also be invited to particular events throughout your career, such as charity events and recording an album where there are certain criteria that must be met to pass, such as earning a certain amount of stars. The story mode also features Rock Challenges, which are often amusing scenarios that require you to harness the power of rock to destroy a building or ward off a giant octopus. These challenges certainly add something to the tour mode experience... plus they're so damn cute. We challenge anyone to not enjoy playing the song 'Ghostbusters' while forcing Lego ghosts back into their crypts.

Playing gigs will also unlock various items that can be used to decorate your rock den (which acts as the game's hub) or to dress up your band and their crew. Your rock den also features a place to purchase entourage staff which will help increase your ability to earn studs and make new fans. In this area players can also play in the ‘Free Play’ mode where you can just play songs without adding to your career and can take part in already unlocked Rock Challenges.

Queen in Lego form... not at all creepy.

Queen in Lego form... not at all creepy.
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The major drawback to the rather in-depth story mode is the limited number of songs available on the disc. This means you’ll be playing the same song many times, and often in a row. However, this is not such an issue if you have some other downloaded songs as there are many gigs in the story mode that will use your DLC. As previously mentioned, the major drawback is that not all of the previous Rock Band downloadable songs are compatible with the Lego version of the game. So for Rock Band veterans, there is simply no incentive to using this disk after finishing the story mode. While we can understand why this is the case, it does seem a bit odd that a song like the Foo Fighters' 'Word Forward' - which contains a pretty obviously cut swear word - is compatible with this kiddie title, while some other songs that don’t have swearing or adult themes aren’t compatible.

The tracklist itself is a pretty diverse one, and one that most people will consider to be hit and miss because of the varied tastes it tries to cater for. From our perspective, we don’t mind playing songs we’ve never heard before, but not everyone will agree. The songlist seems like a pretty obvious attempt to get the whole family involved, with songs plucked all the way from the 1960s from bands such as Jimi Hendrix and The Jackson 5, all the way through to Pink and emo bands from the current decade. Anytime you put 45 songs together from five decades you will have some difficulty in pleasing everyone, but this selection of tracks is pretty decent. However, the issue is the lack of songs available rather than the selection itself - we've been spoilt by past Rock Band games that offer 80-plus songs, so the 45 here seems a bit light on.

All in all, Lego Rock Band is a decent attempt to attract younger fans and families to the series, although a limited song list does hurt its replayability unless you download extra songs. Some of the new features geared towards younger players will turn off some veterans of the series, as will the incompatibility with some existing DLC. Lego Rock Band is not quite a block-buster, but it's still a lot of fun as long as you know its limitations.
The Score
If you play LEGO Rock Band as standalone game and then export the tracks to your hard drive, you’ll get the best value out of this title. Anyone playing this merely as a standalone game without any extra DLC, or using it as a track pack, will have to carefully evaluate the included tunes before they Lego of their cash. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related LEGO Rock Band Content

LEGO Rock Band track listing revealed
13 Oct, 2009 Who ya gonna call?
LEGO Rock Band confirmed
22 Apr, 2009 Get your blocks off.
Rock Band Unplugged Review
09 Oct, 2009 Increasing the Amplitude of your PSP.
10 Comments
4 years ago
Rock out with your blocks out?
4 years ago
My bad, I'm obviously not cool or hip enough to be down with the lingo... Fixed icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
One day I will buy this... when I hate myself enough!
4 years ago
It's not a bad game by any stretch, as i've said in a previous post... i believe the instrument game genre is becoming too over crowded with new titles.

Funny thing is that, it's just two companies pumping them out - you would think that they would want to space out the releases (maybe one proper game, one spin off per year) but they are pumping them out at a rapid rate. An oversaturated market could be profitable for awhile, ultimately - it may lead to disinterest from the public.



The game itself is good, decent mix of songs, interesting concepts and scenarios (eg: the premise behind performing the ghostbusters song etc). It's a kids version of Rock Band, still fun for adults.
4 years ago
Best setlist of any music game ever. Just throwing it out there.





....seriously.
4 years ago
^ is that cause it ain't afraid of no ghosts?
4 years ago
I think this has a very good set list as well, probably one of the best.
4 years ago
I'd have probably called out the fact that all 3 of the All That Remains songs is able to be played in LRB, instead of Foo Fighters. icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
While I didn't like the overall presentation of the game, it had one of best tracklists out of any RB game, as they where more songs I liked than in any other RB game.
4 years ago
redemption wrote
^ is that cause it ain't afraid of no ghosts?
and Kung Fu Fighting.

and most importantly Queen.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  25/11/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Warner Bros Interactive Ent
Genre:
  Music
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  4

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