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LEGO Rock Band - hands-on

Our guitars were tuned. Our amps were cranked to the max. It was time to rock. However, instead of a looking out at a packed house in a seedy dive bar, our band was on the deck of a rickety pirate ship in the middle of the frothing ocean about to open a can of rock-n-roll whup-ass on a giant, ticked-off octopus. Apparently the many-tentacled brute didn’t take too kindly to our decision to pass over his kiddo who’d recently auditioned to be our new drummer. Indeed, experiencing Rock Band through the filtered lens of the LEGO world offers a healthy mixture of both the familiar and the absurd.

The aforementioned epic octopus battle is just one of many crazy encounters found in LEGO Rock Band – a game that makes it almost damn near impossible to resist cracking an ear-to-ear grin while playing. This LEGO-infused rock touring adventure finds you shredding notes on the moon, in medieval castles, atop skyscrapers, and in many other unconventional venues. You’ll destroy entire buildings, chase away mischievous ghosts, and tackle other strange situations… all with the awesome power of rock.

Aside from some fun aesthetic changes (like the notes taking the form of LEGO bricks), the underlying rhythm gameplay that’s already familiar to anyone who’s played Rock Band is almost completely untouched. Wielding your choice of instrument, you and up to three other pals will match notes coming down the runways in-time to the music. LEGO Rock Band does include some adjustments to help make things even more accessible for younger players, including a super easy mode and an option to play shortened versions of songs that keeps them in the two-to-three minute range. There’s also a no-fail mechanic that lets you attempt to play your way back into the game by collecting LEGO studs attached to the bricked notes. Though the game is aimed squarely at kids and families, it doesn’t pull too many punches on the higher-end difficulty levels. Kicked up to Expert, all of the instruments are just as challenging as they would be in Rock Band.

A portion of LEGO Rock Band’s track list leans heavily towards the family-friendly end of the listening spectrum. Crocodile Rock, Kung Fu Fighting, and the theme from Ghostbusters should be fast favorites among the younger crowd. Fortunately, the bulk of the tunes are still pretty rocking. Get prepared for the hair-twirling cheese of Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” the axe-igniting shreddery of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” and the painful to resist sing-along chorus of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name,” among other hits in the 40+ song track list. That will be extendable through the in-game music store and support for the more family-friendly tunes available in the entire Rock Band DLC catalog. All of LEGO Rock Band’s tracks will be exportable to regular Rock Band.

Besides being able to completely customize your band members with wild outfits and instruments models, the game includes LEGO-ified version of iconic rock legends Iggy Pop and David Bowie (and possibly several others yet-to-be announced). Seeing everything in action, we can safely say LEGO Rock Band is poised to charm the pants off a whole different section of the gaming community and bring new fans to the core franchise. Boil it all down, and you get a solid Rock Band experience with a lighthearted LEGO presentation and plenty of silliness to match.

Oct 12, 2009