in Review

The Time Has Come

Rock Band 2

I have beaten almost every song in Rock Band 2, conquered most of the world tour and dabbled in the other game modes. So, finally, I feel like I can review one of the most anticipated games of the year.

Simply put, Rock Band 2 is the perfection of the first game in the series; it forgoes much innovation for renovation. Online multiplayer and single player were most certainly Harmonix’s focus here, and I feel like they accomplished all their goal of making Rock Band a viable platform for future musical releases.

With the first game, many complained they were unable to play world tour online, Harmonix has fixed that this time around. Since none of my friends play online, this was never a problem for me, but logging into profiles was. No one liked wasting the time and those without Xbox 360s needed to be guided through the login process in the first Rock Band. No more is that a problem, as all the band and character data can be linked to one profile, streamlining the process. Furthermore, band world tour can be played singleplayer, and you can even put your band mates in as CPUs, so you don’t have to deal with some of the freaky NPCs showing up in your band.

The biggest new feature is the battle of the bands mode, which consists of daily online challenges. People can duel for the best vocals score on “Master Exploder,” for example. While I’m not particularily interested in this feature, I know a lot of players only care about score rankings and the like and this is a great mode for them.

Rock Band was toted as a viable way for people to learn the basics of drumming, and we all know how that turned out. Rock Band 2 tries to take this learning concept further with a full drum trainer mode, which is interesting but ultimately boring. I’ve never been to into the practice modes in these games anyway, but I think it’s really cool that they’re putting in the effort. At least people can go into the fill trainer mode and learn stuff a little more creative than the smack hte bitch technique.

But the most important aspect of Rock Band 2 is its track list, and its a respectable one indeed. At 84 songs, there had to be some duds, and I do have my fair share of complaints. For example, the top tier difficulty songs are all lousy metal songs that are all very fast, very difficult, and very bad. But the majority of the tracks are great, and very cleverly chosen. Most songs are fun to play on something. Sure, “Tangled Up in Blue” is kind of painful on guitar, but it’s a blast to sing.

With the ability to import all but three Rock Band 1 tracks, and all the DLC, many players already have hundreds of songs to play, which is incredible. Just browsing through my own music collection is kind of incredible, and I haven’t even exported the first game yet. With all the great DLC coming out, like the Offspring pack and “All Right Now” by Free this week, our music collections are going to keep growing for a while too.

Rock Band 2 perfected the Rock Band formula. With this title, Harmonix are in the position to establish this as a platform for all future content. And they seem aware of that too, I think it might be a while until we see Rock Band 3. Just look at that Walmart-exclusive AC/DC pack, it seems like they might be trying alternate ways of releasing new discs. Anyway, no matter where the franchise is going, at least right now it is in a great place.


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