Not sure if I’m happy with this write up, but I guess that’s what comes from experimenting with different styles/methods! I guess I am trying to be more casual just to get me writing more.
Rock Band 2 is the sort of game that reminds me why I still play games after all these years. It is pure and simple, unadulterated fun. However, it’s not for the faint hearted, or should I say slow fingered as it will take practice to become any good at it. The core gameplay is simple: you use one of four musical instrument peripherals to simulate playing in a real rock concert, the instruments being drum, lead guitar, bass guitar and microphone. You have to press coloured buttons in time with the music, as they appear on screen. Obviously this sounds so much easier on paper than in reality, but it is extremely simple to get into.
It’s ideal for introducing non-gamers to gaming, especially in a party atmosphere. There are four difficulty levels to choose from; meaning anyone with a tiny hint of rhythm stands a chance of being able to finish a song. And boy are there plenty of songs. With 84 on the disc, over 550 songs available to download (for a price, but a relatively inexpensive 160 points on the Xbox 360 Marketplace) and many more being added every week, and even the ability to import songs from the original Rock Band. You really won’t get bored of the songs fast. I’ve been playing avidly for the last couple of months and I’m still finding new songs, although I have found a few songs be repeated throughout the Tour mode.
The Tour mode is Rock Band’s way of providing a career mode and a bit of structure to events. In it, you tour the world playing gigs. You start out only able to play in small venues in your hometown, gradually working your way up through the ranks from any old two bit musician to the gaming equivalent of The Who, providing you are any good and can attract the fans. As well as needing fans, the bigger you become, the more bits and pieces you acquire such as a tour bus and a plane. These don’t really have much of a purpose other than to highlight your success but it does give you targets to aim for. Gigs are a mixture of single songs and setlists, with some performances providing extra challenges such as requiring a 4 Star performance to be achieved to succeed. With your band, you can also challenge players online via the Battle of the Bands feature although I’ve yet to try this.
You’re probably wondering by now what kinds of songs are available to play, and whether it’s your sort of music. Well as the name suggests, it is very much Rock orientated with the likes of the Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Bon Jovi and Guns ‘n’ Roses featuring prominently. As well as these, there are also classic tracks such as Ace of Spades, Pinball Wizard, and that cheese-tastic hit that you just can’t help but love, Eye of the Tiger.
Despite loving Rock Band 2, I’ll admit it’s a tricky one to describe to someone who has never played it. It’s something that sells itself really. If you’ve played Guitar Hero, you’ve got a rough idea of what to expect but it really is something else to actually have drums to bang in time with the music. That’s what sold Rock Band 2 entirely to me. If nothing else, it is fantastic stress relief! As a party game, it is the perfect social game; you and your friends will have a great time laughing at each other’s dubious talents. My only reservation is that the solitary gamer may find themselves getting bored, sure you can spend hundreds of hours mastering the game but this type of game does thrive upon human interaction. Other than that, it really is a great innovation of the rhythm game genre, something that I couldn’t imagine existing a mere six or seven years ago but that works terrifically well now.