Review by megabelmont
"A much better improvement to the bare bones release of last years title"
The PS2 seems to finally be on its last breath. It had a major boost of games for the last three years thanks to the limitations of the Wii. The original Rock Band for the PS3 and XBox360 had a world tour mode where you could unlock songs in cities by gaining fans and money as you did gigs. You could spend that money on costumes and other sorts of items. By the time the PS2 got it a month later it was stripped of all of the bonus details, and had a simple song setlist you would expect to find in the Guitar Hero series. The Wii got the same treatment (without downloadable content) which allowed for two track packs plus an AC/DC one to be released. Harmonix delayed the PS2 and Wii versions of Rock Band 2 for several months after the XBox360 version. This broke the similarities apart from the PS2 and Wii version of this game, giving the Wii version customizable characters, DLC, and money. Despite these differences Harmonix still added much more replayability and modes into the PS2 version which makes me glad they delayed it a few months rather than give us another bare bones game.
The game looks like its PS3 counterpart. This game uses movies captured from the PS3 (Or 360) version while the instruments show up in the foreground. This means you cannot create a character. How does it still get a 9/10? If you played Activision's Guitar Hero World Tour you would know that loading times between songs are hellish. They usually take around 30 seconds between songs, which is unacceptable when you have a party and you want to play songs immediately. The load times in Rock Band 2 are just a few seconds. There is also a World Tour mode now in Rock Band 2, but how can there be one if there isn't any money? The World Tour mode works pretty similar to the Guitar Hero set up, only you can just around between sets so if you are stuck at one song it won't hold you back. Its more similar to Tony Hawk, once you beat enough songs (with enough stars) you play through a set list with a random song or two and then you get new cities (sets) to choose from. So it is a step up from just choosing songs from a piece of paper, but not a whole lot. Eh, at least the Earth looks pretty.
There is also a challenge mode where you can go through sets of songs for certain instruments. It is a nice addition, I'm sure it was a very quick thing to throw together but it does add replay value. Each set you complete you unlock a new set under a different category. There is also an option in this game to adjust the sound and the display delay on your TV separately. My cheap HDTV at college has a horrible delay with both the sound and display while my HDTV at home has no display delay but minor sound delay since I am using component cables. I like how you can adjust the two settings, this wasn't an option in the first Rock Band. Perhaps my favorite addition was the simple drum trainer they added. It has around 80 different beats you can play along two and you can adjust the speed that you play it at. If you play it perfectly at that speed it will keep track of it for you. I've gotten through half of it so far and I find it a blast to play. There is also a drum filler mode which is also really fun and a free style mode which is lame because you just hit the drums and it plays a sound back. The biggest problem found in Rock Band 2 was you can only practice a song at either full speed or 70% speed. Harmonix claims its a system problem due to the calculations of the microphone, but I find that one a little hard to believe.
I guess the only thing to comment about the sound is the setlist. It has a killer setlist with over 80 songs. Now when it comes to rhythm games the setlist usually makes or breaks the game. I have to say that this setlist is the best out of any Guitar Hero game yet, even better than 2! It's got a huge selection from popular bands. Thrown in with the mix are more party songs like "Living on a Prayer" and "Down with the Sickness". There is no DLC so you are limited to what is on the disk. They also don't include the 20 free bonus DLC songs, but I listened to those songs are they weren't anything exciting, just more average songs to play. Excellent set list for throwing a party. It does lose 1 point however for not having a drum pedal sound when you use the drum pedal in a drum fill.
Background movies don't exactly win over any points. It does get points though for the slick menu graphics, and I need to get it more for throwing in the awesome globe in World Tour. Simple graphics that lead to quick load times. Besides you don't really look in the background when you are playing. I should point out that the videos look very well compressed this time around. They look much clearer this time around, almost as if you can't even tell you are watching a movie.
The only thing I can take off for is that you can't use Guitar Hero drums in Rock Band 2. I'm still using my Guitar Hero controllers for guitar and bass, and my Boogie microphone I got attached with Boogie for $20. My Rock Band 1 bass drum pedal snapped in half last night. Although I can't take off for that since it wasn't made for this game, I can warn users to beware when they get that drumkit.
I'm sure Harmonix lost alot of potential buyers by delaying the game a few months. I'm glad they did though, because I'm pretty positive they were about to release the game the exact same way as rock band 1. The World Tour mode does look nice, but it isn't different than the original way of unlocking new songs. The drum trainer in my opinion is the greatest addition to the game because you can go through it every day to become a better drummer. The biggest area of the game though is the song selection, which in my opinion this game overpowers Guitar Hero: World Tour in. It makes an excellent game to have at a party and is still fun to play by yourself. I'm fairly confident that this is the last Rock Band game to be released, and now that the Wii has DLC I wouldn't hold my breath for a third track pack. Still, this is an excellent end to the PS2's line of rhythm games. (Both Guitar Hero and Rock Band) Even if you only have Guitar Hero guitars laying around this game tops all of the rest of the games in that series for guitar parts. So if you are still holding out on the next generation of systems get this game! However if you own any of the other systems I would suggest getting this game on those systems unless you don't care about DLC.
Pros: World Tour mode, Drum trainer, Set Challenges, best sound track yet, very quick load times
Cons: No DLC, Guitar Hero drums don't work, no online, no character creater, stripped World Tour mode
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/12/09
Game Release: Rock Band 2 (US, 12/18/08)
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