EA Games @ NYC '08: Rock Band 2 (Hands-On)
FOREWORD: You may have noticed that we didn't cover any EA game during this past E3. That was all with good reason. You see, EA invited us to their New York City showcase at the W Hotel, and so we chose to save the best for last. At EA's "Holidays in July" event, we were able to go hands-on with all of the games present at E3, in addition to two that weren't.
Rock Band, it's without a doubt the best party game available, no matter what genre you can name. Last year, I fell in love with the game, thanks to its track selection and especially the drums. I did have a few complaint about the game, such as the drums not having hats and cymbals, the bass pedal being too stiff and too easy to break, and a quieter strum.
All of that has been addressed in full for the second, as Rock Band 2 is looking to crush the original in nearly every way imaginable. For starters, the game continues to be far too fun, to the point of addiction. Admittedly, I gave away my Rock Band set to my younger cousins, because the game started to take up too much of my time - I couldn't pry myself away from the drums. All of those feelings came back when I got in front of Rock Band 2.
The drums have now been enhanced a variety of ways: there are now expansion ports in the back of the drum controller that'll allow for the addition of hats, cymbals, and even another pedal for double-bass action. So my biggest complaint with the drums has been addressed, and I can honestly say that playing Rock Band 2 with a complete drum-pad set has the ability to breed drummers. On top of that, the standard drum set is totally wireless, so no more wires.
When you begin mashing on the drums, you'll have to take into account that they are velocity sensitive, so the harder you hit, the louder your hits will come through the speakers. With that in mind, hitting harder will not result in making more noise from the drum pads, as they now use a quieter material that absorbs the impacts. Lastly, the bass pedal is a lot softer to press down, and is made out of metal this time around.
I still find using the guitar awkward, and even though there are buttons placed at the lower-end of the neck, I'd still like to see two rows of four buttons, one on top of each other, to simulate a guitar a bit more accurately. It's worth mentioning that the strum is now dead silent, so no more having to open your guitars to remove the clicker. A new feature found on the guitar is an optical sensor that performs a sync and calibration on its own.
The setlist continues to be absolutely amazing, not one song isn't worthy of being there. A collection of us got together and we played a number of tracks, from artists such as Serj Tankian, Radiohead, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, Rage Against the Machine, and a few others, all of which I sang to on Expert and performed well within the 90s in rank. But I'll stop showing-off now. =)
A Guns n' Roses track wil debut exclusively in Rock Band 2 before it even appears anywhere else. And that one GnR track is one of many that you'll be able to enter into a customized playlist you can put together. Sorting through the tracks can be done in a variety of ways, by alphabet, genre, and other ways. Lastly, a No Fail cheat code will enable a track to scroll along during a party, and allow players to pick-up-and-play the game at will, without having to worry about the track ending once they stop.
With tracks from Rock Band 1 included, a slew of downloadable content in store, Rock Band 2 is going to be one experience that you won't be able to put down for an extended period. And yes, for those wondering, your old instruments will still work with Rock Band 2.
Related Game(s): Rock Band 2
7/31/2008 Arnold Katayev