godzilla_sushi's Rock Band 2 (Xbox 360) review

Rock Band 2...Mostly

Do you ever get that feeling that a franchise or genre has evolved right past you? I think with Rock Band 2, music games have certainly given me rhythm gaming fatigue. The soundtrack is disappointing for me and my personal tastes. Sure, Rock Band 2 is still the great game its predecessor was but I’m definitely at my limit with what Harmonix and Activision decide is good music for a group of people to play.

These games are so similar that the only things left to compare are soundtracks. The major pull for me towards Rock Band was the actual track list. There was a great balance between fun and enjoyable music for each instrument, and difficulty. Highway Star, I Think I’m Paranoid, Learn to Fly, almost the entire thing was great. Rock Band 2 just doesn’t have that. The songs you start playing early on are pop-rock singles that really walk a fine line. They are repetitive, obnoxious, and out of place. We Got the Beat, for example, is a song I’ve been forced to play in World Tour now more than fifteen times. I do not like that song. I don’t think its fun to play. And the only reason I’ve bothered is that I would like to unlock all the music without using a code. I should be able to get the music unlocked without the headache. It’s not anybody’s fault that I personally don’t like it. But then I have to play Pump It Up, One Way or Another, and Kids in fifteen times each. I’d group all that together in the pop-rock that just doesn’t do it for me. Then, you’d start getting to bands that are great, great bands. But the songs selected for the game are maddening. There are many great Red Hot Chili Peppers songs available. But Give it Away? Not the most exciting song for a band to play. Maybe singing, maybe guitar, but these are songs that I don’t feel are right for a band. There are a few other songs by Modest Mouse, Cheap Trick, Beastie Boys, Guns n’ Roses, that could have been really great for a game like this. I’d take Dashboard over Float On any day. How about Civil War, instead of the mystifying Shackler’s Revenge? These songs are more than just “my favorites,” they’re really fun songs that are much better than their Rock Band 2 counterparts.

The tracks heavily lean toward that mainstream pop music that is slow, meandering, and mostly comatose, reminding me that this game certainly was intended for the widest audience possible. Pardon me for saying this, but that pretty much sucks. There is definitely a lack of metal on this game. It’s a void filled with tracks that are, again, not necessarily the best songs for a band music video game. Recent DLC does not make up for that. The best music is still from Rock Band. Even with lighter rock songs, they were at least enjoyable. There are great songs in this game. And I really appreciate the risks they take in getting some music unrecognizable to most young people. Go Your Own Way, Round and Round, and Spoonman, are great examples of music that everybody in a band could enjoy that are also incredible pieces of music. Ska is another area they seem to have overlooked up to this point. I really would love to see someone make a DLC pack for that. Where’d You Go is a great song. And Guitar Hero finally got 311 in it. There is a library of great music I’m still waiting for…

As far as the game part of this goes, I appreciate World Tour being open to one person. I spent more of my time alone than I did with somebody else in Rock Band. It just makes sense to allow any instrument at any time with any band. Joining other bands on Live is just as easy. I’ve played many times that way just so I could play with somebody else. The online mode is greatly improved. There is significantly less lag, it’s more streamlined, and there are more options. I won’t miss long pauses between when my song finished and when somebody across the country finished half a minute later. I also like the Score Duel a lot still. That’s the best way to test your skills against someone else!

I’ve decided to wait for these 20 free tracks to be released before I make up my mind about importing my music from the first game or not. I’d still take Rock Band 2 over Guitar Hero: World Tour as far as the soundtrack goes. But I have a distressing problem on my hands. Over with Rock Band 2, the soundtrack has moved in a direction I really don’t like to see. With Guitar Hero, it’s moved in a direction that is intended for very skilled players looking for a challenge. I’m not good enough for that. So that’s my issue, have these games passed me by now? I think they have and I think I might have reached my limit. I don’t think I want to even buy any more of these. No more controllers and no more games. But staying with Rock Band will always have its benefits; the DLC will always be enough to draw me into the game. Exclusivity is coming up with the music, it’s coming up fast and I don’t want to be a part of that. I would only set myself up for disappointment knowing I can’t play Metallica in Rock Band or AC/DC in Guitar Hero. I would rather go out and buy the album of a great band at this point. Remember when we used to do that?

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