Lego Rock Band review (Weekly Dig, 12/10/09)

June 23, 2010

Guitar Hero popularized music games, and now it’s dead-set on killing ’em off. Five full-priced Guitar Hero games came out in 2009. The flagship title, Guitar Hero 5, featured a few notable updates, but the rest are basically track packs. Around $60 for dozens of songs beats out the going DLC rate of two bucks a track, but only the least-discriminating listener would love enough of the wide-ranging Band Hero or Smash Hits setlists to justify the expense. They confuse the marketplace and overexpose rhythm games, treating the genre like a fad that should be quickly capitalized on.

The other guys aren’t blameless, but 2009’s various Rock Band titles justify themselves in one of two ways. Either they’re budget-priced expansions focused on genres, or else they offer an experience that can’t be replicated. See The Beatles: Rock Band, or the more recent Lego Rock Band.

It’s just what it sounds like: Rock Band with the look and humor of the Lego Star Wars series.

Everything’s blocky, from your band to the venues to the tour vehicles you unlock. Vaguely unsettling Lego versions of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Blur and Queen show up. The kid-friendly soundtrack leans heavily on catchy ’00s hits, but draws from every decade since the ’60s. You can even pay to import the songs into Rock Band. It’s not spectacular, but it’s cute and fun and more than a blatant cash-grab.

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