Rock Band 2 Turns It Up To. . . Ugh, You Know the Rest
This summer, the drummer from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts threw a drumstick at my face.
To be fair, thats what drummers doeven fill-in, faux-Blackhearts from Joan Jetts new live band (at a county fair near you). After defensively swiping the stick out of the air, inches from my eye, a way-too-enthusiastic girl next to me asked, Oh man! What are you going to DO with it? The answer was easy: stab and poke my way out of the crowd, run home and use it to play Rock Band 2. Because being known as the guy who eagerly caught a thrown souvenir from Joan Jetts session band is definitely more embarrassing than wailing on plastic drums in my front room.
Yes, I believe Rock Band 2the astonishing, must-have sequel to the blockbuster originalhas finally crossed this threshold: playing in a fake rock band with your friends is officially cooler than being in a real band. Making it in a real rock band is incredibly hard work, and at the end of that hard work, no one truly appreciates your skill but your mother. Then, one day, youre just some guy playing 20 year old songs during Budweisers local Summer Stage series. So why not fake it til you dont make it?
Rock Band 2
Publisher: EA Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Price: $59.99 for game, $189.99 for bundle
Score: 9 (out of 10)
You know the Rock Band drill at this point. Up to four friendswith plastic guitar, bass, drums and microphone in handcan slog their way through a massive setlist of hits from AC/DC (their first music game appearance) to ZZ Top. Colored buttons correspond with on-screen notes, and missing too many gets you booed offstage. Shred, rinse, repeat. So whys it deserve an encore?
A music games setlist used to make or break the purchase, but thanks to the advent of downloadable content, its a moot point. For the few among you who dont like Rock Band 2s 80+ included songs (who can argue with Eye of the Tiger and Duran Duran?), all of the original Rock Bands downloadable content is also playable. And because you can rip every track over from Rock Band 1making the re-sell value of the first game approximately $3theres no reason not to pick up the first game on the cheap and add it to your song arsenal. The series promises 500 songs by the Holiday season. Whose holiday? Hopefully the one that celebrates Festivus in October.
It seems unremarkable at first, but Rock Band 2s gameplay simply fixes all the problems from the original without monkeying with what worked. However, to anyone who had to play Garbages ear-gouging I Think Im Paranoid multiple times in Rock Band to advance, the flexible build-your-own setlist option during World Tour is a godsend. Also, instead of your bands lineup being locked in for the duration of the game, you can add friends, tour alone and kick troubled members out of the band. Thats great news for Scott Weilands friends, who can finally move past the first level.
Those annoyed that their living room is piling up with expensive plastic instruments can rest easy: Rock Band 2 is compatible with your old Rock Band gear. Though after you try out the improved (read: quieter, sturdier and more responsive) wireless guitar and drums, youll smash your old controllers Keith Moon-style. Bonus: the new equipment will be compatible with the upcoming Guitar Hero: World Tour, thanks to a landmark company agreement that, in my mind, surpasses the fall of the Berlin Wall.
You wanted a built-in Drum Training mode? You got it. A No Fail Mode so your little cousins, or grandfather, can join in the fun? Its here too. More customization and online play options? Done and done. A Phil Collins and Huey Lewis marathon song set? Well no. Unfortunately, theyve gotta leave some awesomeness for the next game.
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