For nearly a year, thousands of fingers have been tapping away at plastic buttons and rubber pads, singing their hearts out to the likes of The Police, Boston, Foo Fighters, and a variety of other bands. Developer Harmonix, responsible for the first couple of installments of Guitar Hero, turned it up to 11 and changed the music game genre with Rock Band. Now they have returned with Rock Band 2 to bring more rock into the homes of music-loving gamers.
One of the first things you will notice is the cleaner display both in the menu and the playable venue. The menu is broken down to offer you two primary options: Tour and Band World Tour (BWT). Rock Band’s in-game graphics have been smoothed out so the characters stand out much more than every before.
Harmonix has maintained the heavily stylized look that made the original game feel much more authentic. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?
To get back to the Tour modes, the solo tour has received a massive makeover. Instead of following a linear, song-unlocking path, it works similar to the BWT of Rock Band 1. You start with small gigs and gradually build up a legion of fans across the world, but you can also set up a full band to go at it.
It’s a good system but it is not quite as easy to unlock all of the songs.
Every so often you will be asked to up the ante by either having to reach a certain number of stars for a song, beating an instrument challenge, playing a benefit show, and so on. It keeps things interesting because you never know what set lists will include a challenge. Some gigs will be unlocked and will be a completely different challenge that you will play against somebody else if you are hooked up online. It’s called Battle of the Bands and the challenges only last a matter of days.
Harmonix updates the lists every few days to keep gameplay fresh. You can also go directly into challenges without continuing the tour.
One of the major complaints with the first game was that you couldn’t play BWT online. That has been changed. Now you’ll be able to connect with players all across the world to advance yourselves in your own tour or take on other bands. It is just as awesome.
For all those wannabe drummers out there who yearn to throw it down like the experts in Rock Band, you have your saving grace. Rock Band 2 introduces a Drum Trainer feature that helps you boost your drumming skills in terms of beats and fills. It helps out a lot and gets you used to a variety of beats.
While it isn’t a dramatic overhaul, it is one great step forward for the Rock Band series. The song selection is great, and if you spring $5, you can upload most of your Rock Band 1 songs.
Overall, you need this game. It is available now for the Xbox 360 and later this fall for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo Wii.