|Rock Band 2 features pretty much exactly the same gameplay as its predecessor (see entry 1258), at least as far as my novice eyes can tell. RB2 shows a difficulty rating for each role in the band (guitar, bass guitar, vocals, drums) as you preview songs, which is helpful. It also has some concept of "hammering" on "small notes"--specific to guitars, I think--which I don't really understand, but that's hardly surprising since I can barely handle three notes on the guitar's Easy level.|
I wish the guitar playing was more about strumming (you flick a little plastic widget set in the base of the guitar, about where you'd pluck strings on a real guitar) than about button-pressing: you have to press rapid sequences of buttons on the stem of the guitar while strumming to match the sequences shown on the screen as the song plays. Gimme one button and madhouse strumming instead, says I. Ah well. The RB2 guitar has nicer buttons than on, say, the Guitar Hero (1) (see entry 1017) toy guitar, at least, and it's a little larger and easier to hold. It also has a smaller but duplicate set of buttons down at the base of the guitar neck, which I think I was told were for "fingering," which sounds naughty.
Rock Band 2's main addition (again following closely in Guitar Hero 2's footsteps--see entry 1223) is the ability to download more songs to play. Only $2 a pop! They release multiple additional songs for download every week, which must be like printing their own money, pretty much. It's quite the racket, but I shouldn't complain, a) since I don't own the game, and b) since it lets them branch out a bit from their mainstay 80's ROCK into other music that I might actually know and like; they've released a bunch of No Doubt songs, for instance, some of which I actually know. So that's nice, and the option of constantly adding new content goes a very long way in keeping the game from getting old.
Oh, RB2 lets you earn points as you play and spend them on clothing and accessories for a customized rocker avatar for yourself, or so I hear. While I'm mentioning things I've heard from the more experienced players I played with, I also hear that the developer Harmonix (who did the first Guitar Hero game, before going off to start the Rock Band franchise) is working on a Beatles rhythm game--entirely Beatles. Now there's a game with a song list I'd be familiar with. Hm.
Ohh and finally, I hear tell that if you have Rock Band (1) for the same console, you can download its songs into RB2's library, which is kind of nifty.