Rock Band 2 Review: Keep On A Rockin’

“Rock Band” may have not been the most innovative rhythm game on the market, since it basically was just a combination of three other games, but, the end product was truly something special. Once the game was released, one of the questions that was on a lot of gamers’ minds was whether or not there was going to be a sequel, since the game was described as a “platform.” Well, with the release of “Rock Band 2” there’s little doubt about how the series will be continuing on, but a very different question remains - is “RB2” a worthy successor, or will we be rocking out to a sophomore slump?

A quick look at “Rock Band 2” will reveal that not a whole lot has changed. The basic gameplay, graphics, and music styles, are all pretty much the same. However, when you dig a little deeper, you see that there are a lot of changes that needed to happen, as well as, and more importantly, changes that fans wanted to see happen. Fortunately, the team up at Harmonix listened very closely to their audience (they had to after all that loud music and little ear protection) and put the polish on “Rock Band 2″ that it deserved.

Basically, if there was a complaint about the first game, it’s been addressed in one capacity or another. If you didn’t like the fact that you couldn’t take your talent online, that’s no longer a problem. If you thought the set-up was cumbersome, confusing, and often a problem with over anxious newbs, then you’ll be happy to hear that’s a thing of the past. The controllers are improved, and wireless. The songs are plentiful, and more diverse. The list goes on and on.

However, it’s not just the fixes that make “Rock Band 2″ superior to its’ predecessor, it’s where the game goes the extra mile to please the fans that the game proves it’s really a step above the rest. Improved song browsing, a better tour mode, a drum training mode, are just a few of the new or improved in-game features. However, on top of those there were some additions to the game that were very outside the box. The ability to export almost all of the songs from “Rock Band” into “RB2″ for a very small fee is a really great way to build up the game’s library, and, my personal favorite, the ability to create a custom character in the game and turn it into a real world resin statue - absolutely awesome.

Like all games, there are still some downsides to “Rock Band 2,” not big ones, but they are still there. The game is still best played in a group - going through the tour on solo would be completely depressing if there wasn’t a little hint of awesome mixed in. It’s just that some of the songs aren’t 100% tailored to solo play, and no matter what instrument you play, there’s bound to be some downtime.

Also, I’m tired of giving MTV my money whenever I want to buy some new tracks. While they have been more than generous with the on disc songs, bonus downloads, porting of tracks from “RB1,” and free downloadable tracks, I die a little on the inside when I have to spend $2 on the “new” Offspring song. I recognize that this isn’t so much of a short coming of the game, as it is me being cheap and bitching, but it hurts to keep spending money on any game.

“Rock Band 2” proves that the guys and girls up at Harmonix really understand that “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” While I’m not usually a fan of sequels that come out within a year of their predecessor, “Rock Band 2” managed to listen to what their fans wanted to see in their game, and added everything they could.  “RB2” is a solid follow up to the original “Rock Band,” and aside from a few gripes MTV and Harmonix are continuing to build a strong platform, that should keep game rooms rocking for years to come.

“Rock Band 2″ gets a 55 out of $60.* (instruments not included)

*2.0’s reviews are based on a sliding scale to help you, the gamer, make better purchasing decisions. The review ratings are based on the cost of the game, so, if an Xbox 360 or PS3 game costs $60, they can get a rating of what the game should cost, somewhere in the range of 0-60. So, for this review, “Rock Band 2” received a 55 out of $60, meaning the price that seems appropriate is $55, and if it is ever priced $55 it is a definite purchase. In more traditional terms, 55 out of $60 equals a 9.2.

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One Response to “Rock Band 2 Review: Keep On A Rockin’”

  1. DaveDaGamer on October 23rd, 2008 4:11 pm

    I’m copping it! Soon as some of these lazy bones agree to come over for a DAY of jamming… can’t just spend an hour on it.


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