That's right. Harmonix is back with a second installment of their popular music game. I loved the first one, but will this one keep me up all night like the first? Yes.
Rock Band 2 has a total of 84 songs spanning a wide range of music styles and tastes. Plus, with the option of porting over the first installment's songs as well and with all of the downloadable content, Harmonix has said that by year's end, there will be over 500 songs available. Yes, over 500.
Harmonix has added a lot to the experience. World tour is now playable by yourself, as well as with three other friends (same box or through Xbox Live). The world tour is the same, playing mostly pre-made set lists in venues throughout the world to gain fans and cash. But, now you can hire staff that adds more to the tour experience. Certain staff members can get you more fans or more money. Hiring these staff members don't cost anything, but, can cost you a lot of money or fans if you don't be careful.
The graphics in the game aren't a significant upgrade from the first game, but, still look amazing. I have always loved watching what the performers are doing on stage, from stage diving to head banging. Plus, with a very deep character customization, you could find yourself spending hours buying tattoos or buying some of the weird clothing that is included in the game. And a major feature that Harmonix announced was that you will be able to take pictures of your rockers and put them onto various items of your choosing for purchase. Including, bumper stickers, buttons, shirts and even small plastics statues.
Now included in the tour portion of the game are challenges. These challenges take place of what was once the solo career in the Rock Band. Each instrument has their challenges in the form of set lists with 7 tiers of difficulty (except for the bass which only has 6). As you progress further through these challenges, more unlock in the same tier and in the harder ones as well.
Also added to the tour is Battle of the Bands. Harmonix puts out challenges that Rock Band players around the world can participate in. These challenges don't get you anything in game, but Harmonix has said that some of the challenges could net you some swag in the future. Each challenge has certain requirements for you to enter, as well as challenges you must overcome while playing, like not allowing overdrive or having to play at certain difficulties. The leaderboards are ranked by your friends list and by people on Live, so you don't have to feel bad about not getting first. As you are playing, there is a meter on top, facing you against a friend or, if none of your friends has completed the challenge, against a random person on the challenge's leaderboard. Not all challenges are ranked by score either. Some are ranked by star count as well as note streak.
Harmonix also has some new peripherals that go along with the new game as well. Firstly, both the drums and the guitar both have a wireless standard. They both take 3 AA batteries, so rocking out longer is now an option. The new guitar is essentially the same, but, comes with quieter keys and sturdier strummer. But there are two big changes to this guitar. The new sunburst color is a lot better than the boring black and white of the first iteration. Secondly, the new guitar has an auto calibration tool that tries its best to adjust for the lag of your TV and surround sound if needed. It can be a little difficult to work, but it does a great job at calibrating the lag. The new drums are a significant upgrade from the previous version. The pads are squishier, allowing more accurate rolls and better rebound. The drums now feature velocity sensitive controls, which doesn't do much while playing the songs, but adds some realism to fills, and the newly added drum trainer.
All in all, I still leave myself wondering if this could have been a patch and all of the songs added as downloadable content. But, I love everything that was put in and have been spending a hell of a lot of time playing it. Rock on.