Lego Rock Band Review

Lego Rock Band has a little something to offer for most everyone. For the kids, it’s going to be a lot of outrageous fun, coupled with some really jammin’ tunes. For the parents, it’s not having to worry about censoring the music that comes up in random playlist. For everyone else, it might be just another game in the music genre that’s seen WAY too many games this year, but depending on your music tastes, could be just what the doctor ordered.

So, first things first. The game is obviously made for the kids, and the young at heart. Lego fans – myself included – are going to love the customizable features that Lego Rock Band offers up (and probably wishing for building instructions for some of the modes of transportation, much less the venues). From the get-go, rockers get to build their band. Yup, from heads to torsos, hair and legs, the Lego mini-figures are who you’ll be rocking out to the music.

While at first the game seems somewhat lacking in the different outfits or heads you can choose from, playing through the Story Mode (aka, World Tour) earns you new mini-figures and outfits to buy. These will range from all the different, varied Lego sets – construction workers, pirates, townsfolk, astronauts and more. Like it’s grown-up brother, you’ll also be able to buy managers, roadies, record producers and more. But more on that in a minute. Once you unlock and buy these many varied figures, you’ll be able to use them in your tour (yup! Your band manager can step in and play lead guitar if you want him to), but you’ll also be able to swap out their pieces with your own characters, mixing and matching as you like.

Once you step into the limelight, depending on your music tastes, you might be slightly underwhelmed. Music from the likes of Bryan Adams (“Summer of 69”) and Elton John (“Crocodile Rock”) might have you scratching your head, but with additions like Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters”, the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, Rascal Flatts’ “Life Is a Highway” and Good Charlotte’s “Girls and Boys”, you’ll probably be glad you picked it up. That is, of course, if you like more pop-centric music. One thing that will hit you fast and hard is that this isn’t your older brother’s Rock Band 2. Gone are the super hardcore songs and Death Metal. If screaming your lungs out about death and destruction is your cup of tea, you might want to steer clear of Lego Rock Band.

I mentioned earlier about managers, roadies and the like. Like Rock Band 2, Lego Rock Band allows you to hire staff members as well – everything from street teams to record producers and more, but you’ll find it’s actually a little more robust here. Lego Rock Band actually lets you add as many of these folks as you like – no longer are you restricted to picking just one type to help out. In other words, you can have your manager, recording producer, street teams and roadies all working for you at once – adding some serious multipliers to the number of studs (replacing money) and fans you’ll get after a show. Managers give you a +30 percent to the number of studs you make, while street teams give you a +10 percent to your fans.

For better or worse (better if you like money), the number of studs you earn is directly linked to the score you get in the song or songs your playing. So if you get a 110,340 score for a song, that’s how many studs you’re going to receive. Maybe it’s a little “cheap”, because after only two hours in, I’d already raked in over three million, but hey! There’s more to stuff to buy!

As well as new mini-figures, outfits and instruments to buy, you also can deck out your band’s Den in cool stuff you’ve earned during your touring. The Den is essentially your 3D hub where you can practice on the Practice Stage, watch TV (check out previous cut scenes), got to the office (manage your band), hit the road and tour via your garage, buy stuff in the Rock Shop and more. But you also have the option of using those hard-earned studs to buy decorations – from stop signs to speaker systems – to really make the Den your home. It’s a fun little addition, that’ll keep you coming back to rock.

Perhaps the biggest change to the lineup in the actual tour are the inclusion of “Rock Challenges” – story-based events that you get to play through that really add something to the experience. Instead of just playing the song, watching the fret bar roll on the through and ignoring the visuals (as you know you do), these Rock Challenges give you something interesting to watch in the background. One of the first ones you’ll come across is cut scene of a construction crew trying to demolish a building. Your band is off in the corner, doing its warm-up thing, while the crew tries and fails in multiple funny ways to destroy an old building. Eventually it’s up to you to rock out to The Hives “Tick Tick Boom”, and if you keep a close eye on the background, the building is being decimated, brick by colorful brick, even as you play – and best of all, it’s all in time to the music. A later challenge has you on a pirate ship, fighting off a giant squid to Sum 41’s “In Too Deep”. It’s these sorts of additions that really breathe life back into the tired “here’s your playlist – go, play” feel to the music genre as a whole.

There are a lot of other things to mention, too – for instance, that you get to buy your vehicles, and there are nine of them, not three, and they’re really, REALLY cool (seriously – can I have the building instructions for that helicopter? and maybe the hovercraft and rocket-powered bus, too!) – but I would be remiss to point out what a lot players have found.

Firstly, and namely, Lego Rock Band is a little short on the music. With a total of only 45 in-game tracks, if you haven’t  already downloaded a lot of other songs for Rock Band 1 and 2, you’re going to get tired of the new songs quickly. In order to move through the story, you’ll be playing songs two, three, maybe even four times or more before you unlock other ones on the disc. And even though Lego Rock Band is decidedly a kids/family game, the inclusion of Super Easy mode and eliminating failing a song altogether feels a little bit weak. Personally, I’ve always found failing out in Rock Band 2, especially when you’re partying with friends who aren’t as well versed in their plastic instruments as you are, to be kind of a pain anyway, but I understand it’s place in video games – Mario wouldn’t be half as fun if you couldn’t die.

As a conclusion, I’m going to go out on the limb and say I’ve really enjoyed Lego Rock Band, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone – kids to teens to 30-somethings and beyond. Yes, it’s kiddy, and yes is sugar-coated, but it’s also a LOT of fun, and much deeper than many other reviewers have given it credit. Ideally this will be an addition to your already massive Rock Band and Rock Band 2 music collection and, if you’re anything like me, a nice re-introduction to the tiring music genre.

[xrr rating=4.0/5]

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