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Rock Band 2 review

Still top of the charts, even if it does feel more like an encore than a whole new album

Pros

  • Plays like an even better dream
  • Ridiculously huge track list
  • You can use your old gear

Cons

  • Not a huge leap forward
  • No cymbals just yet
  • New drums still aren't that quiet

If the first Rock Band was the opening leg of a full-blown concert tour, with four players living the rock and roll dream via color-coded buttons and plastic guitars, drums, and microphone, Rock Band 2 is like the final show of that same tour. It%26rsquo;s not radically different from its already brilliant predecessor (at least not yet), but everything is tighter and runs more smoothly, and there%26rsquo;s an explosive, extended encore.

Gameplay, for example, is almost the exact same massively fun shredfest you remember: Colored gems scroll down the screen in time with the music, you click buttons in time with the gems, somebody sings, and the crowd goes batshit. It%26rsquo;s totally euphoric.

Yes, we said %26ldquo;almost%26rdquo; - there are several very welcome tweaks, like the ability to switch instruments and even entire band members mid-career, a %26ldquo;no-fail%26rdquo; mode, and custom setlists. Bassists can have a full career now, and there%26rsquo;s an online-enabled battle of the bands that should prove marvelously addictive. There%26rsquo;s also a drum trainer that will teach you the basics of actual drumming, should you wish to exchange this virtual band with a real one someday. All good stuff, though it%26rsquo;s more the perfection of a wonderful existing formula, rather than a totally new one.

The new drums are wireless now and have a dozen barely perceptible improvements ranging from a slightly quieter sound to a kick pedal that stays put when you lift the kit. But they%26rsquo;re functionally the same %26ndash; at least, until the optional, attachable cymbals (and possibly the rumored double-kick functionality) show up in early 2009.

The same goes for the new guitar, which is prettier, has marginally clickier buttons, a screwdriver-free battery compartment and a fantastic auto-calibrate sensor, but feels essentially the same. You can even use the drums and guitar from the first Rock Band and forego the new gear entirely %26ndash; nice bit of help for the penny-conscious.

More Info

GenreSimulation
Description<p>This refined entry replaces the original Rock Band as quite possibly the most fun-filled four person co-op game in creation. Just don't go looking for a huge evolutionary jump.</p>
Franchise nameRock Band
UK franchise nameRock Band
PlatformPS2, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3
US censor ratingTeen, Teen, Teen, Teen
UK censor ratingRating Pending, Rating Pending, Rating Pending, Rating Pending
Release date:23 December 2008 (US), (UK)
Available platforms:Xbox 360
Genre:Simulation
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