Plastic people with plastic instruments.
I’m not a big fan of the Lego games. The movie tie-in games were charming in their own way, and I understand the appeal to younger audiences. They just weren’t for me.
On the other hand, rhythm games are my forte. Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and DJ Hero see more hours of play in my household than all other game types combined.
Lego Rock Band combines these two worlds, and is at least partially successful in making it work.
LRB is a more ‘family friendly’ version of the venerable Rock Band series, with a song list that you can (generally) feel comfortable playing around younger members of your household.
While I thought this might also translate to a dumbed-down experience, I was pleasantly surprised to find that difficulty on the higher end, Hard and Expert, play exactly like Rock Band 1 and 2. Most of your downloaded songs will also work for Lego Rock Band, but songs that are intended for more mature audiences are filtered out.
From that standpoint, LRB is Rock Band with a bright plastic paint job and an edited for younger audience setlist, but there’s a lot more to the game.
For less experienced or younger players, some of the basic mechanics in career mode have been changed. If you quit or restart a song, there is no longer a penalty for doing so. You won’t lose fans or money (studs are the currency in the Lego Universe).
Also, in most venues, and only with songs that are included on the disc, you now have the option of playing a shorter version. Short attention spans get… whoa… something shiny!
You can also finish ALL parts of the game on ANY skill level, even the new Super Easy difficulty, and failing out has now been replaced with a Recovery Mode. Instead of failing the song, or if you’re playing with friends, waiting for them to use Overdrive to bring you back into the song, you go into a ‘Time Out’ where you continue to play but aren’t scoring points. During Recovery you’re playing to gain back points lost for your life meter hitting bottom. Recovery isn’t used in the Challenge Stages, you really CAN fail those songs.
Challenge Stages? Those are new too. At various milestones during your career you’ll be presented with a gig that strips away all Overdrive segments, the entire band shares a single life meter, and each instrument gets a ‘solo’ section (except vocals).
During these stages a cutscene plays in the background instead of the usual stage show. An example is using The Power Of Rock to demolish a building for construction workers. Pass the song with the special rules for Challenge Stages, and you unlock roadies, consisting of grateful construction guys.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, a narrative story has been included this time around. Bizarre, terminally cute, and occasionally funny, cut-scenes are scattered through the game, much like in previous Lego games. Also, in keeping with the Lego lineage, item collection is a HUGE part of the game.
Everything is customizable, including your roadies, manager, and PR personnel. All your changes also appear accurately represented during songs AND during cutscenes.
My roadies all have pig tails, beards, and eye patches.
Your kids will love this game, and if you’re into rhythm games, you won’t feel annoyed playing it with them.
Some drawbacks to the kid friendly format: there is no online play, leaderboards, and some of the menus are unnecessarily slow loading in order to show off more Lego eye-candy.
If you haven’t got any children, and you’re not a fan of Lego, you’re probably better served picking up Rock Band 2 or The Beatles: Rock Band.
If you like Rock Band AND Lego, or you want to play Rock Band with your kids but are concerned about lyrical content and difficulty levels, then Lego Rock Band is definitely a buy.
If you’re a Trophy/Achievement junkie, you’ll want to look into this as well. I’m 20 hours into the game, I’ve nearly completed everything, and should have the last three Trophies in another hour. It’s an easy Platinum/1000GP.
Buy Lego Rock Band