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Rock Band 2 - Xbox 360 Halifax NS

Rock Band 2 has been hotly awaited.If you’ve never experienced Rock Band (or its spiritual forebears, the first two Guitar Hero games) the concept can be a little hard to grok. Read on.

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Rock Band 2 - Xbox 360

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September 14, 2008 By Dennis Burger

Sex and Drugs Sold Separately

The missus and I have never been what one would call large-scale entertainers. Parties at our house are few and far between; our modest media room seating has rarely been strained—until last year, that is, when we found ourselves the host of biweekly Rock Band parties.

Since then, every other Saturday night our home is packed with rockers-in-waiting, champing at the bit for their turn at a microphone or faux instrument.

Suffice it to say, Rock Band 2 has been hotly awaited.

If you’ve never experienced Rock Band (or its spiritual forebears, the first two Guitar Hero games) the concept can be a little hard to grok.

Rock Band 2 CoverAt the heart of the experience is the guitar controller—a little plastic guitar with a strum-bar instead of strings and plastic buttons instead of frets. Hold the appropriate fret button and strum the bar at the right time as colorful notes flow down the screen and you’re rewarded with a guitar lick from a popular rock tune.

Add another guitar for the bass lines, plastic drums (which work much the same: beat the right plastic drum pad at the right time and the rock beat continues), and a really sophisticated karaoke element to the mix (think SingStar ) and you’ve got Rock Band at its most basic.

Not only does this formula make for some really great (and oft-hilarious) social interaction, the addition of at least three new downloadable songs a week to the Rock Band library really gives the game legs. You almost have to wonder why a sequel was necessary in the first place.

But it’s a rock-game-eat-rock-game world out there, and with a new Guitar Hero game on the way, a Rock Band sequel was inevitable. (Interesting rock game trivia: Harmonix, makers of Rock Band and Rock Band 2, made the first two Guitar Hero games. Since they left the fold, the Guitar Hero series has been developed by Neversoft, makers of the Tony Hawk series).

Harmonix faced in interesting dilemma with this sequel, though: change the formula too much and the literally hundreds of songs bought and paid for by loyal fans of the first game might not work in the second; keep the game compatible with all that came before, though, and the second helping runs the risk of seeming like just more of the same.

Rock Band 2 gameplay screen

Somehow they split the difference and ended up with an experience that’s both fresh and familiar. Not only are all of the downloadable songs from the first game integrated seamlessly into the gameplay of Rock Band 2, all of the songs from the original game disc can also be exported (for a mere five clams) and woven just as seamlessly into the sequel’s various modes of play. Incidentally, many of these modes have been updated, revamped, or scrapped and crafted anew—there are no solo tours anymore, for example, although the various challenges that now serve to unlock new songs can be played solo or as a band. And the new No Fail mode makes playing with the little o...

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