Wednesday, October 08, 2008

VG review: Rock Band 2

Electronic Arts, for Xbox 360, rated T for Teen (lyrics, sugges­tive themes), $59.99 (for game), $89.99 (for drums), $69.99 (for guitar).

“Rock Band 2” is the video game equivalent of a victory lap.

Having established the equation “Guitar Hero” + “more instruments” = “awesome game,” developers Harmonix do little to alter the basic formula this time around, merely finessing and tweaking the overall experience.

As before, you and up to three of your friends form a virtual band, playing with guitar and drum controllers as well as singing along to tunes like “American Woman” and “Pinball Wizard.”

The solo and group modes have been incorporated under the “World Tour” section this time around. What’s nice about that is that you can switch out band members on the fly, so you can progress with the same band regardless of whether you are playing by yourself or with a large group.

The Internet figures big this time around as you can world tour online and join other people’s bands. There’s also a “Battle of the Bands” feature where you can duke it out for musical supremacy via Xbox Live.

While those sections might appeal to the more expert player, there also are a number of features designed to help newcomers. The “Drum Trainer” for example, is designed to show you how to keep the beat (and might help you with real drums). The “No Fail” option, meanwhile, allows kids to play without fear of being booed off stage.

While “Rock Band 2” works well with the first game’s instruments (as well as the “Guitar Hero” ones), EA has made new guitars and drum kit. They’re nice, and much more responsive than the previous iteration, though not so wonderful that you’ll feel like you’re missing out if you stick with your original instruments.

There’s really not much in “Rock Band 2” to make it stand out from its predecessor. But with more than 80 songs and the ability to download more (plus incorporate your songs from the first game for a mere $5 licensing fee), fans will probably be too busy rocking out to complain.

Copyright The Patriot-News


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