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Rock Band 2

Rock Band 2

September 14, 2008
Publisher:
Lyrics, Suggestive Themes

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review:  January 23, 2013
Format Reviewed:   Xbox 360
Language / Country of Origin:   English / USA
Online Capability:  Online multiplayer is available, where players can choose to form bands with other online gamers.  There is also downloadable content available for this title (in the form of additional music track packs).
Prequels: Rock Band.
Sequels:  LEGO Rock Band, The Beatles Rock Band, Green Day Rock Band, Rock Band 3, Rock Band Blitz
Featured Characters:  Players customize their own characters.
Equipment Needed: Players need a console system plus any associated instruments.  The game comes with “guitar” controllers fashioned after the Fender Stratocaster, a drum set controller (that has four rubber drum pads and a kick pedal), and a USB microphone.  The game is compatible with controllers from both the original Rock Band title and the games from the Guitar Hero series as well.
Maintenance Required:  None required.

Review:

Plot:
This game does not have a real plot.  Instead, it is a simulation allowing players to perform popular songs using controllers that mimic instruments (guitars and drums) and microphones.

There are different modes that can be played.  Tour mode, which can be played either alone or with others, involves playing gigs to build a fan base to travel to new cities and eventually tour the world.  New songs are unlocked in this mode.  In Tour Challenge mode, players complete various set list-based challenges. There is also a Training mode, where players can learn how to master each instrument.  In Battle of the Bands, players go online to compete against other online bands.

The game allows various players to change various settings.  For example, if the No Fail mode is set, it becomes impossible to fail a song.  If Breakneck Speed is set, the scrolling speed of the notes doubles.  Just like in Rock Band, there are tutorials that can help players learn how to play and a Quick Play mode that allows players to make their own set lists.

Players can customize the character that they play on screen (hair, clothing, body type, tattoos, piercings, instruments) using cash that they earn in the game.

Gameplay:
Up to four players can play rock band at any one time.  Players choose to play lead guitar, bass guitar or drums or can choose to sing (with the microphone).  Players are scored on how well they are able to mimic the scrolling notes on screen by pressing the corresponding notes on their controller (if they are playing an instrument) or on how well they can match the appropriate vocals.

During the multiplayer cooperative play mode, each band member can choose their expertise level (Easy, Medium, Hard, or Difficult).  However, all players earn points toward one score.  It is possible for any one player to fail out of a song if they do not perform well enough.  Yet, if other band members achieves Overdrive (by hitting a number of white notes correctly in a row), they can bring back failed players.

Cultural / Historical Value:
Rock Band 2 includes 84 different songs from a variety of rock genres, including alternative, classic rock, grunge, indie rock, metal, new wave, nu-metal, pop/rock, progressive, and punk rock.  Songs also come from a range of time periods, covering the 1960s to the 2000s.

The bands featured in Rock Band 2 are:  AC/DC, AFI, Alanis Morissette, Alice in Chains, The Allman Brothers Band, Avenged Sevenfold, Bad Company, Beastie Boys, Beck, Bikini Kill, Billy Idol, Blondie, Bon Jovi, Cheap Trick, Devo, Dinosaur Jr., Disturbed, The Donnas, Dream Theater, Duran Duran, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters, Go-Go’s, The Grateful Dead, The Guess Who, Guns N’ Roses, Interpol, Jane’s Addiction, Jethro Tull, Jimmy Eat World, Joan Jett, Journey, Judas Priest, Kansas, L7, Lacuna Coil, Linkin Park, Lit, Lush, Mastodon, Megadeth, Metallica, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Steve Miller Band, Modest Mouse, Motorhead, The Muffs, Nirvana, Norman Greenbaum, The Offspring, Panic! at the Disco, Paramore, Pearl Jam, Presidents of the United States of America, Rage Against the Machine, Ratt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Replacements, Rise Against, Rush, Silversun Pickups, Social Distortion, Sonic Youth, Squeeze, Steely Dan, Survivor, System of a Down, Talking Heads, Tenacious D, Testament, The Smashing Pumpkins, and The Who.

Many more songs are now available for download and 55 of the 58 original songs from Rock Band can be played within Rock Band 2.

When released, Rock Band 2 received good reviews and was nominated for and won numerous awards.  It was also very popular with gamers, having sold approximately 1.7 million copies in 2008.

Teaching / Learning Characteristics:
It would definitely be a stretch to say that players will learn to play an instrument after playing Rock Band 2.  The game is not an accurate reproduction of what it means to play and instrument.  However, it may develop an appreciation for music as players are exposed to a wide variety of songs and styles of music.  At the higher levels, the game really develops players’ hand-eye coordination.  It takes real skill to master the expert level.

Replay Value:  

As anyone who has played any of the Rock Band titles knows, these games have incredibly high replay value.  Rock Band 2 is no exception.  This is the perfect game to play with friends or in a party setting.  It is fun to engage with all of the songs.  Players will want to keep playing so that they can get better at the songs and eventually advance to the expert level.  It is a very addictive game.  

Likely Audiences:
Music fans will enjoy this game (although the music choices are kind of random).  Those who are looking for a fun party game should check it out.  

Overall Score:
90/100.

Other Reviews:
1up.com
Gamerankings
Gamespot
Metacritic
MobyGames

 

About the Author:
Shannon L. Farrell, MLIS, MS is a Liaison Librarian at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  Having been an avid gamer for the last 25 years, she has a great interest in incorporating videogames into library and educational environments.  She has conducted research on the topic, examining current use of videogames in libraries and the resources available for collection development purposes.  Shannon is a member of the ALA Games and Gaming Round Table.  Since she plays videogames on a daily basis, Shannon is a regular contributor and editor of reviews for VideoGameCat.  She also maintains the VideoGameCat Twitter (@thevideogamecat) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/thevideogamecat) accounts.

Awards

Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2008Best Music Game Winner
Spike Video Game Awards 2008Best Soundtrack Winner
Spike Video Game Awards 2008Studio of the Year
(Harmonix)
Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2009Family Game of the Year Nominee
Golden Joystick Awards 2009Family Game of the Year Third Place
Golden Joystick Awards 2009Multiplayer Game of the Year Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2009Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2009Outstanding Achievement in Soundtrack Winner
Golden Joystick Awards 2009Soundtrack of the Year Nominee
Golden Joystick Awards 2009Xbox Game of the Year Nominee

Additional Info

ESRB Description:
Lyrics, Suggestive Themes

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