LEGO Rock Band
The Rock Band franchise has been blessed with a consistent amount of quality thus far
- Some great songs, charming personality, Rock Challenges are good fun
- Not enough new content, customisation begs to be explored further
The rhythm game genre is reaching a saturation point and LEGO Rock Band is yet another example of publishers actively looking at new ways to try and keep things fresh and interesting for the established fan base. Unfortunately, while the LEGO brand has been enough to help other licences like Star Wars and Batman find new life, it just doesn't do enough to elevate Rock Band to new heights.
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Crossovers in entertainment media aren't anything new. If there was money to be made and merchandise to sell, you could bet your Saturday morning that the Jetsons would find their way into a Flintstones plot before you could say "continuity error." Now, the Traveler's Tales line of LEGO games have taken an interesting approach to the tried-and-true intercompany crossover conundrum: take an iconic pop culture franchise (so far so good) and then throw in an iconic... toy... block... franchise?
As odd as it sounds, the results have been impressive. LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones took gamers into a blockified George Lucas sandbox, and LEGO Batman introduced a fresh, zany twist on the often painfully gritty dark knight detective. Of course, this was just the beginning: LEGO Harry Potter, LEGO Indy 2, a mini-figure infested MMO are all in development, which brings us to the aforementioned conundrum: how much LEGO is too much LEGO? As one of the numerous LEGO Rock Band loading screens attests to, "There have been over 400 billion LEGO elements created since 1949. That's a lot of LEGO!"
It sure is.
The Rock Band franchise has been blessed with a consistent amount of quality thus far. The former Guitar Hero imagineers over at Harmonix managed to introduce just enough new content, charm and kickass music into each installment to pioneer their own rhythm-based revolution. This year's [[xref:http://www.gamepro.com/games/ps3/159417/the-beatles-rock-band/|Beatles Rock Band|Beatles Rock Band] only added to that fire but the question remains -- does the same apply for LEGO Rock Band? Is it an incredibly rich, magical mystery tour of music that just happens to feature an insanely popular brand of plastic playthings?
Not quite. During my time with it, I just couldn't get past the fact that it was still Rock Band, albeit with LEGOs as the dominant visual theme. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, and the trademark LEGO charm is still in full effect -- the game's cutscenes are silly and witty, and the LEGO customisation features are a nice perk -- but I couldn't help but feel that there were some missed opportunities here. I was hoping TT would go all out with the LEGO theme, allowing you to build your own guitars, stages and tour vans from a few of those 400 billion LEGO elements they so happily flaunt, but instead, we get a wide assortment of pre-made mini-figures, not to mention some outlandish instruments and Rock Den decorations. It's an interesting enough attempt but there's no escaping the feeling that it could've been so much more.
The games setlist is an interesting blend of classic and contemporary tunes - some an absolute blast to rock out to with friends ("Let's Dance" and "Free Fallin'" demand numerous replays) and some nothing more than skinny-tie and tight-jean requirements. Even with a few musical travesties in its midst, my hat is certainly off to TT for keeping some quality music in a family friendly game. In light of going the Kidz Bop route with the likes of the Alys, AJs and Hillary Duffs of the world, there's an array of genuinely interesting and toe-tapping tracks that further serve the idea that LEGO Rock Band isn't playing down to children, but playing with them. The game also has a nice collection of Rock Challenges, featuring a number of smile-inducing scenarios and goofy animations (scare away a legion of ghastly spirits with Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" theme and try not to smirk).
Ultimately, though, LEGO Rock Band is still vanilla Rock Band at its core, and will really only serve as a standout experience for newcomers or younger gamers. It's fun while it lasts, but it certainly won't blaze any new trails as far as virtual rockstardom goes, and diehard fans of Rock Band should hope that the devs return to their hard rocking roots for the next genuine instalment.
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