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Avatar ImageRock Band 2 Review
By: | December 1st, 2008 | Xbox 360
Review |X360

It’s been one year since I finally got to “live” my dream of becoming a rock star. Now I sit here with a new set of drums in the corner, a shiny new guitar leaning up against the wall, and a, pretty much exactly the same, microphone on the floor. Oh Rock Band, you draw me in and never want to let go.

Rock Band 2 may look almost exactly the same as the original on the surface, but dive deep and the changes become plain to see.The first and foremost change is the removal of a linear single player career. While the the linear list was nice for playing alone, having a library of songs already available at the outset relieves the feeling of not having enough songs to fully enjoy tour mode. This of course is only in effect if you downloaded any songs. If not, then I urge you to go and browse the immense library of songs and buy those that ignite your inner rock star. If those arn’t to your liking then spend 400 points and import all but three songs from Rock Band into Rock Band 2 (you do have to have a Rock Band disc). All of these songs are nice, but Rock Band 2′s 84 master tracks are worth the opening price alone. Harmonix has done a fantastic job with the song selection this year; there is such a wide variety of songs that it is almost impossible for you to not at least have a song or two that you just want to play over and over again (hello Reptilia and Everlong). There is also a code in the manual that unlocks 20 more songs for free. There is absolutely no shortage of great songs to keep any party going.

One of the main draws is obviously the world tour mode. While in Rock Band, you could not play world tour on your own, in Rock Band 2 you are free to tour to your hearts content. The tour itself has not changed much in its core features, you still travel the world playing various venues going as far as your vehicle will take you. The progression remain unchanged: get van, move across west coast, get bus, move across North America, get jet, move around the world. All of the venues from Rock Band are back along with 15 new stages for you to rock out on. The challenges to either get more fans or money are back and better. There are many more scenarios in which these events occur; the variety is nice and they are spaced out enough so that they are not tedious. You can also hire some one to aid your band, whether you want more money each show, or more fans, consider it a stat boost for when you play. There are also challenges that will pop up. Pick a song and instead of playing that song, play this song for a music video, fail or get less stars then you want then try again, the challenge is placed at the bottom of the song list for that particular venue.

Of course the real changes are more subtle in nature. Just want to jam to your hearts content with no worry of failing, then enable no fail mode and jam out for as long as you want. Feel like just completing some timed button presses, then enable no song mode (though why you would want to do that is beyond me, but the inclusion is nice). Create a logo for your band, make album art, and ensure that your band is always there even when your friends are not playing. Cycling through songs is now a breeze, the song selection screen is just like in the store, browse by difficulty, artist, alphabetical order and you get the idea. Now there are challenges for you and your band to try your skill at and battles for you to try your skill against the rest of the internet. Now you can see the progress of the stars that you earn while you play the song, an nice way to entice your band to do as good as possible so they can see that fifth star fill up. The most important change is that your character is no longer tied to a single instrument and your band is no longer tied to a single character.

While there have not been many changes from the original, Rock Band 2 is a satisfying step forward. Yes I would have loved to see a little more change for a full disc release, but 104 songs is more than enough to warrant purchase of Rock Band 2. The only feature that I wish was present is a battle of the bands style multiplayer mode, but that could be patched in just like the store in Rock Band. Rock Band 2 is, by far, the best music game out in the market. Rock Band was my party game of choice, now its dethroned by its successor.

Now I would like to take this section to do a quick run down of the new instruments. The microphone is almost exactly the same, the only difference is that the circle bulge near the USB plug is now significantly smaller. The guitar now has bumps on the top middle and bottom buttons so that loosing your place is almost impossible. The strum bar feels much more solid and is my personal favorite out of all of the guitars out. The start and select buttons are much easier to hit and not hit when you desire to. The drums seem a little quieter, but that quickly goes away when you get someone who loves to just pound the life out of them. The drums do feel sturdier and now is much harder to slide across the floor. The kick pedal is much more secure and solid. The best part is that the guitar and drums are now wireless. If you have a Rock Band set of instruments, then picking up these new ones is not a must, but they are an improvement over the originals.

Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review

Rating Category
9.0 Presentation
The new effects are nice, and Rock Band still feels great.
How does our scoring system work?
10.0 Gameplay
Still the same great gameplay.
9.5 Sound
You'll like most of the songs, yet loathe a few.
10.0 Longevity
Best Party Game Out.
9.5 Overall
Rock Band 2 is the best music game out right now.

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