Just to let you all know, I'm reviewing the Wii version of the game.
Rock Band 2 is the second music/rhythm game in the Rock Band series. The original Wii Rock Band was a bit of a disappointment, seeing as there were no creatable characters, no downloadable content and no online play. It's amazing what a difference a few months makes. The sequel has all of that, and improves some of the little flaws of the original Rock Band. New instruments, new songs, and new items to customize your virtual rockstar are just a few of the new features in this amazing rhythm game for the Wii.
Rock Band 2: Possibly one of the greatest Wii rhythm games so far.
Console(s):PS2, XBOX 360, PS3, Wii
-360: September 14, 2008 (US) November 21, 2008 (EU)
-PS2: December 18, 2008 (US) March 27, 2009 (EU)
-PS3: October 19, 2008 (US) March 27, 2009 (EU)
-Wii: December 18, 2008 (US) June 26, 2009 (EU)
Publisher: MTV Games
ESRB Rating: T
Since there isn't really much of a story in RB2, unless you count your own band rising up from garage band to bands similar to those like Aerosmith, with hundreds of thousands of fans supporting you, as a story, let me tell you about the upgrades that were made to the instrument that seemed to have the most problems: the drums.
The new drums for Rock Band 2; wireless drums
The new RB2 drums have probably received the largest upgrade out of all of the instruments. They are now wireless, like the new guitar, have ports for up to three cymbals on the back (sold separately, of course) and include a metal-plated foot pedal, since the RB1 drumkit pedals were snapped so easily. The microphone included is essentially the same as the one included with the original Rock Band, however. The guitar has a new faux wood finish on the neck that makes it look a bit more professional and a lot less fake. It, too, is wireless.
The new RB2 guitar.
Graphics: Rock Band's graphics are unique compared to other games on the market. It's actually somewhat reminiscent of Zelda: The Wind Waker in the way that it looks like a cartoon, but different in the fact that you can still tell it's supposed to look real (Plus it's much darker compared to WW). There are a few glitches sometimes, however. Sometimes your guitarist's fingers will go through the neck, sometimes the singer's mic is just floating next to their hand, heck, once I saw one character walk through another character after failing a song. But these glitches are few and far between, and overall don't affect the game that much. The only other thing I can think of would be the lag; There's rarely any, but even when there is it's not game-crippling.
The game looks really nice, don't you think?
Gameplay: Like most things in life, the game play in Rock Band 2 starts off easy, but gets progressively harder until you just want to tear your hair out from the difficulty of it all. There are four instrument choices in the game: Drums, Guitar, Bass and Vocals. On drums, you'll be kicking away at the foot pedal and constantly drumming away on at least one of the four drum pads on the kit. While most songs follow a nice, steady rhythm (which can be sped up in other songs) the latter songs (in the Impossible tier, mainly) will have you drumming away at high speeds. Probably one of the hardest songs in the game, as well as Guitar and Bass would be:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AlOEUaSqd8"]YouTube - Rock Band 2 - VISIONS 1ST PLACE! - FULL BAND - EXPERT[/ame]That is definitely not the song for newbies to the game.
If you're familiar with the Guitar Hero series, then playing Lead or Bass guitar will be a snap for you. If not, here's how it works: On the TV screen there are rectangular boxes scrolling down the screen, known as notes. Each note has a color and a corresponding button on the controller: Green, Red, Yellow, Blue and Orange. Press the button on the neck of the 'guitar' and the strum bar on the body of it together to activate or 'play' the note. Sounds simple enough, but it gets more complicated. If you have a Rock Band guitar, odds are you've noticed the 5 somewhat smaller fret buttons located near the body of the guitar. When the note chart on screen turns blue, you can use these to tap out the solo, no strumming required! Some solos are easy to pull off, while others require a lot of quick tapping. Think you can handle it?
Vocals, depending on the songs you know and don't know, can be one of the easiest or one of the hardest instruments in the game. Singing in RB2 is as simple as singing outside of the game: just sing. Well, that's not all. You do have to
try to match your voice to the pitch of the vocal track, but that's not too hard. You can sing in a lower octave than the actual singer and still get 100% on a song, so it doesn't matter if your voice is deep or not, just the pitch.
If you watched the video, you probably noticed at one point or another the note charts/vocal track glowed a yellowish color. This is called Overdrive, and is activated in different ways depending on your instrument. For Guitar/Bass, all you need to do is tilt the guitar. For drums, there are certain sections that pop up when your Overdrive meter is at least half full, called drum fills. You can play whatever you want in here, but to activate Overdrive you must hit the green drum pad at the end of the fill. All you need to do as a Vocalist is yell into the microphone when the track holds that same color as the Overdrive meter.
Sound: Like most music games, Rock Band 2 sounds amazing. All 84 tracks in the game are masters and there's a good balance between old and new music. For every Carry On Wayward Son or Spirit in the Sky there's a Chop Suey! or a That's What You Get. I'll admit, there are some songs that you'll play a few times and never want to play again, but for the most part Rock Band 2's soundtrack is fantastic. And the sound effects (the screaming or booing crowd, depending on your performance, and the sounds that play when you fail for examples) make the game feel more realistic, even though you're playing on fake plastic instruments.
You'll be seeing that red text a lot in the beginning.
Longevity: The 84 songs in Rock Band 2 are all amazing enough to keep you occupied for weeks, if not months. Plus the four different instruments keep the game seeming fresh and fun for even longer. But when you finally get bored of the songs on disc, add some Wii Points to your account and purchase some DLC. Nintendo and Harmonix are working hard to add all of the 500+ songs to the Wii's catalog, adding new songs as well. At the time of writing there's a little over 200 songs available, but I think they should have the rest of them up by the end of the year.
Overall: Rock Band 2 is a fun game either by yourself or with friends. Whether they're in the same room or across the country, you'll be having a ton of fun playing the songs you like. And the best part is, you don't even need Rock Band instruments to play the game! That's right, Rock Band 2 is 100% compatible with all Guitar Hero instruments, including drums. So you really don't have an excuse to NOT pick up Rock Band 2, even if you do own GH: World Tour.