I picked up Rock Band 2 when I purchased Bioshock. As we already had Rock Band, I was able to just buy the game, as the peripherals were unnecessary. I have not tried any of the new peripherals, so I on’t be commenting on them here. Though I am contemplating getting a new guitar controller, and using my current one for bass on the rare occasions we have a fourth person to play.
As for the game itself, there’s not a whole lot new here. It’s the same game play as in Rock Band (or Guitar Hero or Sing Star), and will be very familiar to anyone who has played before. The background screens and intros are bit nicer, cleaner, but that’s pretty much it. Though the new drum tutorials, covering “fills” and such are a very welcome and nice addition. They are much more “in tune” with actual drum skills.
There are a few new things in addition to the drum tutorials. There are challenges in game, each based on difficulty and instrument type. You need not play the instrument for that challenge to complete it. Completing challenges will give you additional fans and cash, as well as unlocking additional challenges. The tour aspect is also changed somewhat. Instead of having separate solo and band tours, it’s all one now. You need not have all members of a band present to play, and people can join in between sets.
The two big things for RB2 are the new song list (over 40 new songs), and the ability to port over your existing Rock Band songs. In addition to the original Rock Band songs (they can be “ripped” from the original disc), all of your dowloaded content will transfer over. So you won’t need to repurchase or redownload what you already have. The new song list is impressive, and features all original recordings, no covers. A very wide variety of musical genres are covered here, from classic rock to metal to progressive to punk. Some of the song choices are interesting, as they are not the songs form certain bands I would have chosen. Even so, it was very cool to see Steely Dan, Judas Priest, and Squeeze all on the disc.
If you already have Rock Band, and the peripherals, you will not be disappointed by just purchasing the stand alone game. All the original peripherals work just fine with the new game, so there’s no need to rush out and get the new ones, or splurge on the package. If you enjoyed the original, you will also be quite pleased with the new game, if only for the new songs. This is also a good way to jump in if you held off on buying the original. This is still a great “family” game, supporting up to four players, and is a greta way to be introduced to some different mucial styles and bands (for both young and old alike).