Rock Band 2

Rock Band 2

In the world of plastic instrument games, there’s Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III, Guitar Hero V, Band Hero, DJ Hero, and of course, the Rock Band series. The Local Ditch takes a look at what is special about Rock Band 2.

Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero 2, Guitar Hero 3… Rock Band. RB was the game changer in the rhythm genre. Drums, vocals, guitars, bass – it was all here in one package.

I didn’t play Rock Band. I was late to the party. Instead, I had just been exposed to the plastic instrument craze via Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock for the PS2. Yes, 2007 was a big year for me, finally getting a PS2 and jumping, or so I felt, into the modern world of games.

2010, though, let me have a crack at the Rock Band franchise, starting with its sequel, Rock Band 2. At this point, I think it’s fair to say that everyone knows the premise: mash buttons with onscreen color-coded squares to simulate playing a musical instrument from a rock band. Oh, and singing.

To put it simply, it’s great fun. For the hardcore, there’s something very old school about scoring as many points as possible, where players are rewarded for speed, reaction time, and a bit of memorization. It’s almost like an alternative mode of that handheld electronic Simon from the ’80s, but with a whammy bar for a twist. Time and dedication spent practicing yields great benefits.

Rock Band is instantly rewarding. Sucking on an instrument? The crow boos and the music stops. Rocking it out? The music flows immediately, almost from the palms of your hand or throat. Do even better and the crowd starts singing along. The rewards and larger-than-life rock star fantasy really makes the game special.

I’ve always had dreams of wailing on the guitar in front of huge crowds. I think about 100 people has been my real-life max, while Rock Band puts me into the tens of thousands.

Being exposed to some new tunes has been fun, too. Hell, even some that I don’t like to hear are fun to play. It seems the opposite is true, too. Metallica may be my favorite band, but Battery tears me up on every instrument.

The set lists are seemingly endless, so there’s almost always something to come back to. Unlike its successor, Rock Band 2 takes a long damn time to fully complete.

The game really comes alive in multiplayer. The Rock Band series may be the best party-friendly videogames on the market. With several skill levels, just about anyone can jump into the game and play. Get a full group together and it feels like the entire team is actually creating the music. Some of my favorite Rock Band moments come from a full band with skill levels set too high, bailing each other out and fighting the song, tooth and nail, to survive to the very end.

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