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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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Rock Band 2: The Face-Melting Encore

By LAUREN ORSINI and ANDREW HOFFAMN

We thought of ourselves as “Rock Band” experts after winning second place in the campus Rock Band tournament, but nothing could have prepared us for “Rock Band 2.”

This long awaited sequel saved all of the good parts and repaired the issues of the first game, explaining the frantic clicking and tapping heard in dorm rooms around campus all Sunday.

Following up the success of “Rock Band” is a daunting task, but “Rock Band 2” succeeds, delivering excellent game play, a diverse song list, more durable instruments and a much greater value.

“Rock Band 2” doesn’t alter the game play of “Rock Band.” You play the guitar, bass, drums or sing vocals to one of the 84 songs included in the game just like before.

There are four difficulty modes and, new to “Rock Band 2,” a “No Fail” mode, allowing even the most rhythm-challenged of us to enjoy the game. What the game does alter is the modes you can play in.

World Tour, where you traverse the globe unlocking songs and gaining fans, remains unchanged from the last game, except for the largely irrelevant addition of being able to hire different managers.
However, in “Rock Band 2” you can play World Tour solo, replacing the heavily structured career mode of “Rock Band” as the main single-player mode. There are also challenges which task you with completing certain sets of songs, free play and two competitive modes: score attack and tug-of-war.

All of these can be played locally or online. The final mode, Battle of the Bands, is not a competitive mode, but a list of timed challenges you download, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to weeks, pitting you against rockers world-wide.

The most important part of any rhythm game is the song list, and “Rock Band 2” excels here. The 84 songs on the disc are the most in any rhythm game ever, covering a diverse range of genres, from alternative to classic rock to nu-metal.

But the list doesn’t stop there. According to Harmonix, 20 songs will be released for download for free later this fall. Plus, you can feel free to transfer 55 of the 58 songs from “Rock Band” to “Rock Band 2” for only $5, and there are hundreds of songs available for download online. This amounts to over 500 songs that will be available by the end of this year.

The new instruments are a mixed bag, but with improvements all around. While an upgrade over the previous “Rock Band” offerings, the guitar controller is still inferior to the sturdier, more precise “Guitar Hero” controllers.

The drum set, though, is greatly improved with better pads for more bounce and a metal foot-pedal that’s far less likely to break.

The only problem we found with “Rock Band 2” is the limitation imposed by the inadequate internet connection here at UMW– with an internet this slow, good luck downloading songs online! But this minor blemish isn’t enough to keep “Rock Band 2” from being one of this year’s must-own games.