Hands-on / Rock Band 2


Did you like Rock Band? Then you’ll like Rock Band 2. They’re kind of the same game, I don’t know if you noticed. To the game’s credit, I’ve never been so excited to buy the same game twice. As you can see above in the photo taken by the lovely Jessica Villarreal of Girls Got Game/All Games Interactive, I got to spend some time rocking out with a few other gaming journalists in a private session with all the new Rock Band 2 stuff, and it felt just like Rock Band one, which is exactly how it should feel. Mostly I sang since everyone else was too chicken to do so and I just gotta shine, but I got my hands on every last faux instrument including the ├╝ber-drum set they had set-up there.

Aside from that drum set and a few other new peripherals, like a controller for the singer that also doubles as a light show, the game is just more of everything. More songs on top of all the songs you already have. More content within the game modes. More rock and more roll. In fact, the only thing there isn’t more of is the graphics. The game looks exactly the same, but in this case there really is no point in messing with perfection.

Everyone has probably heard the news about what songs are going to be in the game and the promise is that there will be over 500 songs for Rock Band by year’s end. But what about the game around them? Well for starters, World Tour mode has been much improved with an online mode that will make all Rock Band fans thank the lord and the elimination of band leaders. You can now swap out not only players but also change instruments. By the end of your prolific world tour, your drummer could be your lead singer, your lead singer could have quit the band and the drummer could be replaced by your friend in Australia. It is surely a good time to rock.

If you’ve got an established band and you think your kicking ass like none other, Harmonix has the perfect way to humble your righteously arrogant behind. Online challenges that are updated daily will give you a chance to compete with other bands across the globe. Think you can do Guns N’ Roses better than anyone else? Well now you’ve got the chance to prove it over and over. Don’t be to worried about keeping track of all those rocking records you’ve broken either, you can get alert messages once you’ve been toppled. Finally, a battle of the bands where you can get your sweet revenge.

Harmonix also said that the new menus were easier to maneuver and get around, but it looked pretty much the same to me, though I’m sure to die hard Rock Band fans they’ll be a god send, especially with the option to play entire albums at once. Also making life easier, but unseen by me, was the Drum Trainer mode in which drummers can actually train on the drums. With that new fancy set tool you can actually learn how to play the drums. This means that when all those obnoxious people ask why you don’t go out and learn a real instrument, drummers can now reply that they actually are. Of course, if you’re not into learning you can just beat on the drums randomly in the free play mode.

I’m not sure how in depth with the instruments I can go here since my personnel opinion is that, aside from the drums, they’re just prettier versions of the originals. But the gentleman at Harmonix told me that they involved both innovation and perfection, so maybe I was missing something. The guitar, which is still modeled after the Fender Stratocaster, looks way cooler now with a wood finish and the buttons don’t click as much when you’re playing. Otherwise, aside from a nifty auto sync feature which makes playing on friends consoles way easier, I didn’t feel much difference there.

The drums probably have the biggest change. Actually I should say that they can have the biggest change. The base drum set is aesthetically more pleasing and makes far less noise than the old one. They can also now sense how hard your hitting them which is a nice touch, though probably bad for me since I’ve been known to break a few drumsticks in my time. Outside of this they’re much of the same. However, if you want more you can have more — you can snap on extra pieces like cymbals and an extra kick pedal. The game will recognize these changes and react accordingly.

Like I said, it’s all very much like Rock Band except slightly improved. If you’ve already got a full set and don’t won’t to drop more money there is really no need to, but if you hate how the drums get louder than the music sometimes or how the guitar clicks too much, this might be worth it. What is defintley worth it will be picking up the game when it comes out. 500 songs!