Like a birthday cake with gummies, sprinkles... and sardines.

User Rating: 7.5 | Rock Band Blitz PS3
I've loved Rock Band from the beginning, and as my consoles have come and gone, I've owned and played the games on PS2, 360, Wii, PSP, and now PS3. In the transition, and life changes along the way, however, I no longer have (or desire) any of the plastic instruments required to play the game or enjoy the numerous songs installed on my console's hard drive.

Thus, I was thrilled by the announcement of Rock Band Blitz, a downloadable game played only with a standard controller, that would be compatible with all previously released songs. Well, now Blitz is here and it is... good enough.

I will come right out and admit I was hoping for a console version of PSP's excellent Unplugged game, and was a bit disappointed in the two-note instrument tracks. At least, at first...

No matter what instrument you play in a Rock Band game, the big appeal and the real fun (at least for me) comes in connecting to the music. Guitar tracks feel like playing guitar, at least a little bit. Drums feel like drums (obviously) and with four- note highways across multiple difficulty levels, Unplugged did a really great job of capturing that experience. I understand Frequency and Amplitude (Harmonix's previous controller-only outings on PS2) had three-note highways, and were highly praised for musicality, so I remained hopeful for Blitz...

...and it works just fine. Playing KH's blistering solo in "Ride the Lightning" with just two buttons put all my fears to rest. Blitz has plenty of musicality and challenge. I suspect the single difficulty level and two-note lanes are a result of dealing with the thousands of songs available, authored long before Blitz was ever dreamed up. Converting songs based on the rhythm, rather than note specifics, must be much more manageable for a program to handle than having testers re-work every song to make it playable.

The formula for raising instrument multipliers is truly ingenious, and encourages thoughtful playthroughs as you try to max out your score. Thankfully, you cannot fail a song in Blitz, so if you just want to practice guitar or drums, you can do that as well. Blitz is a great way to relax with my headphones and enjoy my Rock Band library.

But wait, there's more! If you're logged in online, you can unlock and use powerups, which raise both your scoring potential and the insanity level of the game. There's lots of competitive score chasing to be done in Blitz if you want to get involved in the fray, and this feature will surely increase the game's value and longevity for some players.

However, since this is my review, I'll put in my two cents on the online features: they kind of detract from the musical experience for me. I'm not going to get to the top of the leaderboards any time soon, because I refuse to bother with powerups. Trying to follow a pinball across tracks really takes me out of the music, which is why I'm playing a Rock Band game in the first place. I can't say I've tried any of the Facebook connectivity, and my few attempts at Score War with friends have fizzled for various reasons. I'm impressed that Harmonix went to the trouble of designing and adding the features, but they aren't what I'm looking for in a Rock Band experience... they are the sardines on my birthday cake...

Ultimately, I'm thrilled to have a new game from Harmonix, and especially to have a simple way to enjoy my existing RB library. I may mess with powerups occasionally, but the draw of the game is still the music, and musicality. Blitz is solid, fun, and a great value, considering that you can also play its twenty-some tracks in Rock Band 3!

Here's hoping we get the ability at some point to import the Rock Band 3 songs into Blitz!