Rock Band 2 Review

After spending some time playing Rock Band 2, I feel that what I've been playing is really Rock Band 1.1. Harmonix has addressed many of the little annoyances in Rock Band, but overall the game experience is very similar in Rock Band 2. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that "if it ain't broke, then don't fix it". Rock Band 2 is a great game because Rock Band is a great game, not because it's something utterly new that you haven't played before.

I'm sure that there are some of you who are interested in Rock Band 2 that have never played the original game, but rather than cover the gameplay basics in this review, I am going to refer you to the Rock Band review and focus this review on the changes in Rock Band 2. There is an advantage to owning both games in that you can export the songs from the original game for use in Rock Band 2, which will expand Rock Band 2's song list by 55 tracks. Be aware though that this will take up about a gig and a half of your hard disk space and that the charitable music industry is kind enough to only charge you $5 to transfer the license for your songs from Rock Band to Rock Band 2. No wonder everyone loves music company execs. You'll have to export the entire Rock Band track list in one full swoop, but you can go back later to delete individual tracks from your hard disk (bye bye Beastie Boys). Rock Band 2 comes with a larger track list at 80 games, and also includes a code that will allow you to download an additional 20 tracks in the future (at the time of the writing, the tracks and their availability date have not been announced). To this total you can add the hundreds of downloadable tracks available for purchase online and you've got enough music to keep you busy for a very long time. The 80 tracks on the Rock Band 2 disc include some great songs and it's good to see the inclusion of some lesser known bands. Of course, depending on your musical tastes, there are sure to be some tracks you'll never want to play, though. There are also some odd song selections, if you're going to include Devo wouldn't you think you'd want to select Whip It over Uncontrollable Urge?

So what else is different in Rock Band 2 aside from the track list? Probably the biggest change is in how the career mode works. The single player career mode has been eliminated. Rock Band 2 is focused on band careers rather than player careers. You can create a band that you only play alone with and one for use with friends, or simply use one band that you use for both solo and multiplayer play. You no longer need to create a different character for each instrument. Your character can freely switch between instruments in a band as well as join different bands at any time. You can even join friends' bands online or invite them in to your band.