I think everyone’s universal reaction when they first heard about the existence of Lego Rock Band was “really……why?” And rightfully so. The entire concept just feels odd and unnecessary. Granted many thought that when Lego Star Wars was first announced so many years ago. The difference there however was when many of those same people saw video from the game, they quickly got what it was going for and it all made sense. That didn’t really happen with Lego Rock Band. I know I saw videos and just thought it looked like Rock Band but with just a hint more lego. And a pansier track list.
So how does this stack up (that may be a pun, I’m not even sure) against the other Rock Band games? Or especially against competitor Activision’s family friendly Band Hero? Clicking ahead is the only way to get those answers.
Lego Rock Band is a deceptive beast. You would never expect it, but this son of a bitch is crafty. You see I only rented this game. However after about an hour or two of playing it I started to regret my decision of not purchasing it. I really debated just bringing back the rental copy and heading to the store to buy a copy. I was having a lot of fun with it.
Thankfully it was late and I was lazy and I chose to instead keep playing the rental copy. At first I was quite charmed. Some of the new songs were fun and the Rock Power Challenges were quite cool at first. I got to tear down a building using the power of rock – or more accurately a song by The Hives. Then I played the Ghostbusters theme to chase a bunch of ghosts out of a mansion. The sequences were lively and fun and I was really digging the overall experience.
Then something happened. It quickly started to dawn on me that the experience didn’t seem to be changing all that much. Sure I was technically progressing through the tour and getting new vehicles and new venues and so forth. But the entire experience felt really, really repetitive. Each venue would have one or two new songs, then a bunch of mystery/choose your own setlists. So I ended up playing the same songs again and again. Sure you can play some of your DLC but I want new songs damn it, and with only 45 in the game, you will be going back to them often.
Occasionally there was one of the aforementioned Rock Power Challenges, but even they weren’t enough to ease the repetitive nature of everything. My favourite one was definitely the first one, where you play Tick Tick Boom by The Hives and tear down a building. Not only was I not expecting this but the whole thing felt immensely satisfying. Who hasn’t wanted to use the power of rock to demolish a building? Liars, that’s who.
While these were definitely my favourite aspect of the career mode, by the time I was fighting in a medieval battle and playing So What by Pink, the whole thing had lost a lot of its magic.
As expected with music games, the set list is hit or miss. There are some definite highlights, such as Final Countdown, Tick Tick Boom (although playing it minus demolishing a building does hurt things), Free Fallin’ and a number of others. It was also pretty awesome to see Two Princes in there.
The problem is that while I enjoy a great deal of the songs included here, some of them just don’t belong in a full-band music game. Nobody can deny the greatness of the Ghostbusters theme song (except again, liars) but it’s simply not that much fun to play here. Same goes for We Will Rock You. Aside from the final 30 seconds, this one is a snooze fest. Both of these are a little better when you sing them, but if you’re stuck on an instrument just bear with it until the next song.
Another issue I have is how little the game does with the Lego license. Yes there are Lego characters being played and the coloured notes have been replaced with lego bricks. Beyond that however, there really isn’t that much. The story sequences have that Lego charm and humour to them, but it doesn’t quite feel like enough.
In the end Lego Rock Band isn’t a bad game, just an underwhelming one. It doesn’t get much use out of the Lego license, there are simply not enough new songs (and the ones we get are a mixed bag) and the world tour mode feels terribly repetitive. It doesn’t hold a candle to Rock Band 2 and as surprised as I am to be saying this, I think I enjoyed Band Hero just a little bit more, at least as an overall game.
I would wait for a price drop on this before considering a purchase, but I can recommend a rental so you can at least try out the songs that are fun.