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Rock Band 2 Review

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Developer: Harmonix Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 19, 2008 Also On: PS3, Wii and Xbox 360

To be completely honest, some would say I have a severe Rock Band addiction. They’d be wrong, of course, but the original Rock Band was undeniably fun and it’s hard to ask for more. But, millions did and Harmonix didn’t fail to deliver in the slightest.

On the surface Rock Band 2 looks so similar to Rock Band that someone could easily mistake the two, but it’s the little things here that make all the difference. The instruments, for example, are just ever-so-slightly improved but it improves the feel of the game so much it’s not even funny. The drums are now wireless, more quiet, more responsive and have a rubber feel that makes the stick bounce off of them much in the same way they’d bounce off a real drum. The guitar, while not as improved as the drums, is also now wireless, has better feeling fret buttons and an improved strum bar (a bit more similar to the Guitar Hero series’ guitars, but still no click). Unfortunately, the microphone hasn’t gone wireless like it’s siblings and is, in fact, identical to the RB1 mic.

Gameplay-wise, everything has just seen minor tweaks and improvements. Something nearly every Rock Band fan was clamoring for, and by far the biggest improvement, is World Tour Mode is now available for online play. Also, RB1 was a bit frustrating when trying to get all players logged in but that has been fixed. Calibrating audio/video lag has also been greatly improved (especially if you have the self calibrating Rock Band 2 guitar). There are now dedicated drum solos, which is nice for us drummers. If you count the improvements to the instruments it’s enough to really enhance your Rock Band experience.

I know what you’re thinking, those improvements aren’t worth $60 (nearly $200 for the bundle, to boot) and I’d completely agree. But you get over 100 songs (!) with your purchase. 75 of the sort you’d expect and 29 bonus songs (20 of which are downloadable). I can’t say that I love all of the songs but there is definitely something for everybody here; Metal, Rock, Indie-Rock, Punk, etc. If you count the 55 songs that can be transferred over from Rock Band 1 and the 300 or so downloadable songs that require no downloading there is a more than decent selection of tracks here. Oh yeah, don’t forget that all 104 Rock Band 2 are master tracks, not covers.

Graphics are nearly unchanged. In fact, other than some new effects, which are undeniably neat, the game looks identical as its predecessor. In my opinion, after the gameplay facets are nailed down, sound is most important in a music game. Thankfully Rock Band 2 doesn’t commit any aural atrocities. On a decent sound system, or even a television with decent speakers, the game sounds great.

If you’re a fan of Rock Band to say that this game is a must-buy is a huge understatement, everything about this game is an improvement over the first. Harmonix allowing the downloadable content to work seamlessly, giving users the option to export their Rock Band 1 songs and the gameplay improvements really show that they were listening and, more importantly, they know what they’re doing. It’s fun to play a game that the developers obviously love and it’s hard to think of a better example of that than with Rock Band 2.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9
Written by Chris Review Guide