Rock Band 2 First Impressions - Sean Colleli

by: Sean Colleli -
More On: Rock Band 2
I’ve been a somewhat loyal Guitar Hero fan so I never spent much time with the original Rock Band, but to me it always felt just a bit “proof of concept.”  All the features were there and the instruments were ok but for me it lacked some polish.  If you feel the same way, then you’ll probably like Rock Band 2 much better, because it has that finished product feel—it seems that Harmonix just needed some time to warm up.

As you’ve probably read, Chuck held a great pre-launch party at his house last weekend, and had both games set up on two different TVs for comparison. At first it was hard for me to tell the different between the two games—aside from a few nuances the visual presentation is near-identical.  You won’t be getting that weird graphics switch like between Guitar Hero 2 and 3, that’s for sure.  Spend some more time with RB2, though, and you’ll notice things like the decade filters and the drum solos.  Explore the different modes, and you’ll find the new features like the drum trainer (thank goodness for that) and the new World Tour, but don’t go in expecting a bunch of new gameplay mechanics.  It’s really more like the switch between Guitar Hero 1 and 2.

The instruments are a mixed bag.  As everyone has mentioned, the drums are a huge improvement—the pads are softer and don’t make that annoying tapping sound, and the metal pedal is a lot more comfortable.  I didn’t really notice any difference from the velocity sensitive pads, but then again I was at a party; I’ll have to try them out in a quieter environment.The Guitar, aside from being wireless, is about the same.  I still hate the smushy strum bar and the fret buttons take some adjusting to.  The RB guitars have always been uncomfortable for me, but if you liked the old one you have nothing to worry about.  It is nice that Harmonix finally got around to making them wireless.

All in all Rock Band 2 is a significant improvement over the original, if not an astounding advance.  I’m still interested in seeing how it stacks up to Guitar Hero World Tour.  The song list on both is impressive, although as John said RB2 had a few clunkers.  It looks like October is all set for a battle of the Band games, and with both priced a little under $200, it’s going to be one heck of a battle.


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