ROCK BAND BLITZ Like NFL Blitz, except, you know... all musical or whatever.

BEFORE HARMONIX hit it big—first with Guitar Hero, then with Rock Band—the studio created two rhythm titles that, while cult classics, never earned the acclaim of the firm's later games. Maybe people don't see the appeal of rhythm games without unwieldy plastic instruments. Whatever the reason, it seemed Harmonix's Frequency series would quietly fade into oblivion—at least until Rock Band Blitz appeared.

In short, Blitz is a game centered on keeping rhythm with thousands of popular songs. Like prior Rock Band releases, Blitz will work with any music you own from the series, though beyond that, Blitz is very much the offspring of Frequency. Instead of individual instruments, players control every segment of the musical track. This means that you have to rapidly switch back and forth between various instruments, but herein lies the game's hook: Depending on when and how you jump between instruments, you can maintain a streak of successful notes and earn a bonus, or completely screw yourself over. Thus, the game becomes not just one of timing and reflexes, but also of learning when and how to best use your various abilities.

Needless to say, Blitz is addictive—that's de rigueur for Harmonix titles—but Blitz in particular trumps prior Rock Band titles by documenting your scores and directly comparing them against the people on your friends list. Just beat a song? Looks like your pal earned 50,000 more points than you did, and that's all the motivation you need to play again. It's a classic concept—high-score competitions date back to the earliest arcade games—but with today's online-enabled consoles, it's almost too easy to spend hours battling your pals for supremacy.

That said, Blitz isn't for everyone. Whereas Rock Band has traditionally been a brilliant party game, Blitz is more useful as a single-player title. For that reason alone, Blitz won't be as big as its predecessors—but for rhythm game junkies, it's a must-own.