[8bit Review] Rock Band 2

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Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix
Website: www.rockband.com

-The Intro
Harmonix’s Rock Band is back on the scene after less than a year after it initial debut. Rock Band 2 expands the track listing and fine tunes what was frustrating while keep that actual core game play almost identical to its previous incarnation.

-The Good
What really shines in this years release is the track listing. The Rock Band 2 disc itself provides you with 80 songs 90% of which are stellar. Add the 20 free downloadable tracks that come available soon, all the downloadable content you have ever bought, and oh yeah, over 50 songs that can be uploaded from the first Rock Band disc. After I was finished migrating my Rock Band 1 songs to Rock Band 2, I had 152 songs available to play. The sheer number of songs makes this beast of a game worth the purchase.

Another thing that has been fixed from last year’s game is the band leader function. You no longer need to have your character locked to an instrument in order to play as a band. Your character can move from instrument to instrument and friends and family can join your band at any point. It makes for a much less confusing and much more enjoyable experience.

Harmonix has also smartly added a No Fail option. This is the perfect option for showing the game off to your folks (secretly hoping they enjoy it and stop feeling disappointed that they raised a man child) because, well…they can’t fail. We all know parents hate failing, which is why they ignore everything they don’t immediately understand or excel at. Score one for Harmonix, my mom and pop will be jamming out to Nirvana’s Drain You in no time.

-The Bad
Other than a few tweaks to the difficulty, a few new venues to play at, and a few more create a character options, Rock Band 2 is pretty much the exact gameplay experience you had last year. If you didn’t like it then, there is no way you are going to like it now. This is much less a sequel than it is an expansion pack.

-The Ugly
The spoken word parts are completely and utterly broken. When other review sites are saying that Harmonix has made them easier…they are…well…completely and utterly lying. As always, they have too high a volume of games to review to actually pay attention to the on at hand. The spoken-word parts have gotten to the point where a man convulsing on the floor mid seizure could get 100% on Sabotage. Joystiq has very cleverly posted a video of themselves reading the Declaration of Independence during a spoken-word song, and they get 100%. It’s far and away the most broken part of the game and the only aspect that is worse than their previous outing.

-The Ending
If the song selection and volume wasn’t so good it would be hard to recommend this game. Yet, Harmonix has provided the best song list that has had the pleasure to grace a rhythm game. They have turned this game into a beast filled with the blood of rock and roll. They seem to be hoping that everyone is too blown away by the song selection to notice they really haven’t changed enough to warrant a sequel and for the most part it’s working. Rock Band 2 is a certainly worthy purchase, but here’s hoping that Rock Band 3 does something different with the core mechanic instead of just milking it for another reunion tour.

[8bit Take]: Feels like a drunken rowdy reunion tour.