As I mentioned previously, I spent a fair amount of time with Rock Band 2 this past weekend. It was as awesome as I’d expected it to be, and yet…I came away with slightly mixed feelings.
Harmonix pretty much fixed everything that needed fixing: the guitar now has a fair number of challenging songs — that is to say, not totally boring to play, which is quite different from the Guitar Hero “make it so hard the player cries thinking about it” philosophy of note charts — drum charts were more varied, Band World Tour was now online, and you can be the same character regardless of the instrument you’re using. They’ve also added new features, like a drum trainer, a constantly-updated challenge mode to keep things interesting, and a no-fail mode for parents/kids/friends who hate plastic instruments. Oh, and 84 new songs to play didn’t hurt, either.
[[image: ar_092608_rockband_02.jpg:Rock ‘n’ roll all night:center:0]]
Really, all Rock Band 2 suffers from is a vague “more of the same” feeling I can’t seem to shake. It’s a victim of the ridiculously high bar the series’ debut set last year. The presentation and gameplay are still definitely top-notch, but this year’s tweaks were just that: tweaks. I’m certainly glad Harmonix knows better than to mess with perfection, but in some ways it’s a little weird to get a new game and suddenly realize, “Ah, this is exactly what I was playing yesterday.” Not being big into sports games, I’ve never really dealt with this whole incremental update thing before. It’s weird for me.
Don’t get me wrong; Rock Band 2 is definitely worth every penny. Hell, when we were paying about $2 a song for DLC tracks in the first game, $60 for 85 new songs is definitely a bargain. And yes, all the little tweaks, particularly the new song organization system, are a godsend. I whole-heartedly recommend the game. There’s no doubt in my mind that, like Rock Band last year, I’ll be playing this for a year straight, which has never happened before in my entire gaming career. Just, y’know…don’t expect anything wildly different if you do decide to get it. (And you should.) Baby steps and all that.