Rock Band 2 Review
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Rock Band 2 isn't a "true" sequel, but it's the best encore we've ever experienced. Warn your neighbors -- this may be their last proper night of sleep for months.
- The massive, meticulously crafted setlist
- The Battle of the Bands mode
- The refined guitar and drum peripherals
- Laggy drum fills and pitch recognition on some setups
(continued from previous page) ...aspirants. A “no-fail” option curtails despair as you watch your wife’s drunken friends stumble about while attempting to play “Eye of the Tiger” on easy. All of the above are relatively simple features, but they comfortably fill out the overall Rock Band experience.
One chief change in Rock Band 2 is the addition of the Tour Challenge mode. There are dozens of non-linear challenges in the game that each have their own theme. For example, one challenge might feature Red Hot Chili Peppers songs, while another might have songs with a common genre. Downloadable content is fully integrated into these challenges too – downloading a song pack or an album might unlock a specific challenge, while certain songs from that content might be added to, say, the “70’s hits” challenge.
The Tour Challenge mode’s superior counterpart is the Battle of the Bands mode. This mode allows your band to compete in a range of continuously varying challenges against thousands of other bands online via leaderboard score-tracking. Wacky challenges, sometimes with specific parameters, are added daily. For example, one that’s up now is the “The C Marathon,” featuring Carry on Wayward Son, Chop Suey, and Come out and Play (Keep ‘Em Separated). Then there are other more venerable competitions like the "Child's Play Charity Battle." Considering the volume of challenges available, aiming for that number one spot is a realistic goal. As a result, this mode has incredible replay value, because not only are new challanges available every single day, but you'll want to play them all.
Sometimes an experience doesn’t need more additions, it needs to be streamlined. Harmonix axed the single-player career in favor of a dynamic World Tour mode. Bands aren’t restricted to a set number of members anymore; anywhere from one to four players can be in a band at any one time, thus the boring “play through the entire setlist by yourself to unlock all the songs,” otherwise called the solo career, is finally irrelevant. Characters aren’t locked into a single instrument either, and the process of character selection doesn’t require meticulous precision as it did in the first game.
I could list out even more minor enhancements for you, but here’s what you really need to know. Rock Band 2 is not a true sequel. It’s Rock Band 1: The Finely Tuned Edition. And guess what? It’s virtually flawless. The graphics are nearly identical to those seen in Rock Band 1, but the presentation and layout of the game have improved dramatically (and you stare at the scrolling notes the whole time anyway). The gameplay is uncannily unchanged, but it was brilliant to begin with. The peripherals haven’t been reinvented, but each – with the exception of the microphone – has been refined well. Throw in worthwhile new modes, a no-fail option, and 84 on-disc master tracks, and there’s no excuse not to attend this encore.
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