Manufacturer: MTV Games

Product Name: Rock Band 2 for Xbox 360

Review Date: 09/29/08

Author: Tomas Ratas

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Back in the eighties, I was known to play a mean air guitar to some of hair metal’s finest anthems. Luckily for myself and my loved ones, I gave up my budding air guitar career. Until, now….. Harmonix and EA, the makers of the original Rock Band video game, have unleashed their latest version of the rhythm game genre – Rock Band 2. Both the Rock Band and Guitar Hero brands have helped revitalize the rock industry, by introducing a whole new generation to some of rock’s most classic music. Nothing encapsulates the power of these games like seeing your three year old daughter singing Mississippi Queen! As a party game, Rock Band is unheralded and now with the sequel, the fun continues with more songs and better game play!

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In fact, these games have become such a force in the music industry, that Metallica released their new album, Death Magnetic, simultaneously on CD and as downloadable/playable tracks for Guitar Hero 3. Rock Band 2 is from the same makers of the first version of the game and features 84 songs on the disc with 20 additional free downloadable songs. In addition, the original Rock Band songs can be imported onto the Xbox 360 hard drive and added to the Rock Band 2 library after paying a small licensing fee of five dollars.

Rock Band 2 can be played solo but is an infinitely more enjoyable experience with a group of friends. The game is sold individually or bundled with new wireless instruments. Older Rock Band and Guitar Hero (some) instruments are compatible with Rock Band 2.

Like most great games, the sequel is usually an improvement over the original without too many wholesale changes. “Why mess with success” is apropos for this game. Rock Band 2 can almost be viewed as an expansion pack to Rock Band. However, the changes made are not just aesthetic but help take the game play to a new level.

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When Rock Band 2 is first fired up, the menu screens will seem largely unchanged. Harmonix has removed the Solo and Multiplayer menus. Now the initial menu features Quickplay, Tour, Options, Extras and Music Store on the start up screen.

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The Quickplay submenu provides game play options of Solo Quickplay, Band Quickplay, Tug of War and Score Duel.

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While the Tour submenu gives the option of performing on a Local or Xbox Live Tour.

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For Training, there are Tutorials, Practice Mode, and Drum Trainer. Obviously, the Drum Trainer is new, and should help the most rhythmically challenged improve their percussive chops.

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The Options for Rock Band 2 include – GamePlay Settings, Audio/Video Settings, Manage Data, and Calibration Settings.

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Extras feature Leaderboards, Credits and the Modify Game Setting. This last option adds a No Fail Mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. Now even my three year old daughter can play Eye of the Tiger straight through! Of course for those who find the game too simple, there is always the Breakneck Speed Option.

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Finally, the Music Store is one of the greatest components of Rock Bands 1 & 2, here; you can buy tracks and even whole albums from an eclectic mix of artists ranging from Dream Theater to the Pixies to Oasis to Judas Priest.

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Here’s a quick video of the menu:

Specifications:

Rock Band 2 for Xbox 360

Key Features
Rock the World!
Rock Band 2 offers new and dynamic online modes that will connect the entire Rock Band community in more ways than ever before, both locally and globally.

Rock in Style!
Rock Band 2 introduces a new variety of instrument choices all with new and improved drum and guitar peripherals, enhanced functionality and innovative new designs. All Rock Band 2 instruments are fully compatible with the original Rock Band. Conversely, all Rock Band peripherals will be fully compatible with Rock Band 2.

Unrivaled Song Library!
Rock Band 2 features the biggest and most diverse soundtrack ever featuring some of rock’s most prolific acts, comprised entirely of master recordings.

Complete the Look!
Rock Band 2 delivers new clothing, accessories, tattoos, hairstyles, instruments and more to keep your unique rock avatar playing the full rock part.

Battle it Out!
Go head to head competing against other bands with Battle of the Bands contests that will be generated by Harmonix on a regular basis.

Stay on Top!
Stay the undisputed leader board champion with real time alerts updating you when another rocker or band has surpassed your score!

Take on Tour Challenges!
Play through mini-campaigns focused on a specific instrument, your favorite artist, your preferred genre, or a particular album.

Customizable Set Lists!
Create your own set lists in Quickplay mode to keep the music rolling and your band rocking!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Never Dies!
Rock Band 2 offers backwards compatibility with Rock Band downloadable content- all previously purchased tracks will immediately load into your Rock Band 2 play list!

Game Modes
Quickplay
Now easier than ever to get in and jam without hassle.

World Tour
Solo Tour and Band World Tour join forces to create the ultimate band touring experience!

Tour Challenges
Take your band on tour in a whole new way with specific music challenges.

Battle of the Bands
Put your band to the ultimate test by competing against other bands, both on your friends list and around the world!

Drum Trainer
A true teaching tool that gives players a step-by-step lesson through the basic beat and fill vocabulary any real world drummer would know.

Music
Major record labels and leading music publishers have signed on to provide unrivaled access to master recordings and legendary rock artists with hits from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. The Rock Band 2 disc will feature more than 80 rock hits—all master recordings! Plus, Rock Band 2 owners will have access to the growing Rock Band DLC catalog of more than 200 tracks. Below are just some of the amazing tracks and artists you will get on disc with Rock Band 2.

Product Specifications:
Publisher: MTV Games Developer: Harmonix Distributor: Electronic Arts
Category: Music/Rhythm Game
Ship Date: September 2008 (Xbox 360) 2008 (PS3, PS2 and Wii)

Game play is pretty much unchanged with the option of going solo with any instrument or on vocals or running a full band with guitar, bass, drums and vocals, both in person or online.

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One major difference in the Tour mode is now characters are not restricted to certain instruments and there is no longer a band leader. Another new feature is the hiring of staff members to help your band rise to fame and fortune. Plus, the World Tour mode now allows you to go online with other people and play as a band. Having friends join your band or you join there has never been easier. As long as you have an Xbox Live Gold account, the online world is your stage, literally.

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Another new addition is the Battle of the Bands which is updated daily by Harmonix and lets your band attempt band specific challenges trying to best your friends and the rest of the Xbox live community.

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The Song Selection menu has been modified, making it easier to find songs and picking them based on difficulty for each instrument. The song library is rather diverse and ranges from Metal to Classic Rock to Alternative. There is definitely something for most every rock fan.

Having played with Rock Band 2 for the past week, I can say that the game play is unchanged. This is not a negative, since Rock Band was enormously entertaining; the lack of innovation in game style and difficulty is not something most people will complain about. If you have played Rock Band, then Rock Band 2 will feel very familiar and comforting. But in reality, it is all about the music. If the songs weren’t great, then a lot of people would be turned off by the game. However, with the backing of MTV, Harmonix has a tremendous library of tunes that grows by the day.

and finally here’s a brief Gameplay video for you to check out:

Conclusion:

Rock Band 2 is not an evolution of the genre, but it is a worthy successor to the Rock Band lineage. Original Rock Band players will hop into the game without missing a beat, while new users can benefit from improved peripherals and more user friendly options such as No Fail mode. By updating the fundamental game play with some new features, Harmonix has kept Rock Band 2 from falling into the trap of lazy expansion pack releases as we have witnessed from its competitors.

The makers of Rock Band 2 stuck to the formula that made the original such a huge success and massaged some of the features to make Rock Band 2 even better. With a voluminous library of songs to choose from, especially when uploading the original Rock Band’s entire library, the set list possibilities are immense. So do yourself a favor, grab your favorite plastic axe, invite over a few friends and Rock N’ Rock All Night!

Pros:

-Infinitely Entertaining

-Huge Music Library

-Great Party game

-No Fail Mode

-Backward Compatibility with Rock Band 1’s music library

-Plenty of Downloadable Songs

Cons:

-None

Grades:

Overall: score 9 10 Rockband 2 Xbox 360 Review

Design: score 9 10 Rockband 2 Xbox 360 Review

Performance: score 9 10 Rockband 2 Xbox 360 Review