Reunion show

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.

7 thoughts on “Reunion show

  1. Yeah, I did notice one glitch though, and I’ve yet to figure out if it’s just my copy of the game or if it’s in there for good:

    Some songs, when I play them multiplayer (have yet to confirm if this happens solo) will drop out certain sections of the guitar track. I thought it was a bad copy of my DLC at first, since I saw it in Rio initially, but then the same damn thing happened to me in Livin’ on a Prayer. Ah well.

  2. i don’t get what you were expecting. Rock Band is just DDR with a new skin, and as with DDR, the most you can hope for is a yearly disc with more songs and a UI tweak or two.

  3. And since it is DDR with a new skin and controllers, the Guitar Hero method of difficulty isn’t that hard to swallow as a viable approach, especially since none of these musical instrument games do nearly as well at mimicking the instruments themselves as everyone loves to claim

  4. This is how I felt about Smash Bros. Brawl. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was just replaying a game I already owned.

  5. Go ahead and stick with Taiko, nick, because everybody else will be having fun together on Rock Band.

  6. I think that a large part of the issue was the pressure to get a disc-based addon out the door. I have a really hard time believing that any of the additions in this game couldn’t have been delivered over DLC, but EA needs to have Rock Band 2 on store shelves this fall to keep Guitar Hero World Tour from stealing their thunder (and market share). In theory, this pisses me off to no end, although in practice the value of what’s being offered here is too great for me to stay upset. I’m willing to bet that Harmonix will come up with something more revolutionary in the future (and I’m not talking Rock Revolutionary, either), but you can’t expect them to rewrite the rules of rhythm games less than a year after Rock Band did just that.

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