It’s a Rock Band Halloween

October 23, 2009 by Susan Taylor  
Filed under News, Nintendo

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Harmonix and MTV Games today announced their spookiest DLC packs yet, all of which will be available to download via the Rock Band Music Store next week, just in time for Halloween. Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii owners can pick these up on October 27th and Playstation 3 owners can grab them on October 29th.

These tracks will be available for purchase as a Rob Zombie pack, a Wolfmother Pack and as individual tracks on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 system and as individual tracks on Wii.

The track listing is a good one and is the perfect addition to any Halloween parties you may be holding this year!

• Rob Zombie – Burn
• Rob Zombie – Dragula
• Rob Zombie – Superbeast
• Wolfmother – New Moon Rising
• Wolfmother – Pilgrim
• Wolfmother – Sundial
• Wolfmother – White Unicorn
• Wolfmother – Woman
• Liz Phair – Rock Me
• Morningwood – Best of Me
• Morningwood – Sugarbaby

Rock Band 2 gets significant update

September 28, 2009 by Daniel Gillespie  
Filed under News

rock band update

A new patch has been released for Rock Band 2, which will add some brand new dimensions to the game, including the anticipated ‘Rock Band Network’.

The Rock Band Network is a community feature where users can upload songs from their PCs to try them out using the game’s tools, and if successful, could earn a tidy sum of cash.

The Network is due to be fully released in the next couple of weeks, as it is currently in closed beta.

Other notable new additions are that you can now download songs whilst playing the game, and have the ability to use a wireless microphone, instead of the bog-standard wired one.

Finally, along with in game features such as hammer-ons and pull-offs being fixed, there’s now an option where you can see which songs you have fully starred.

Rock Band 2

September 22, 2009 by Colin Ward  
Filed under Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Rock Band 2

Developer/Publisher: Harmonix & Pi Studios / MTV Games

Genre: Rhythm Game

Platform[s]: Xbox 360, Playstation 2/3, Nintendo Wii

Storyline

As with Rock Band and just about every other music rhythm game on the market, the aim of the game is to hit the coloured notes as they travel down the ‘Highway’ – hit these notes at the correct time, and your onscreen instrument will play the correct note, make a mistake, and not only does the music suffer, but your score. Hitting certain special notes flawlessly will allow you to go into ‘Overdrive’ a mode where your score is doubled and the crowd cheer even more!

Unlike other music games, Rock Band was the first franchise to take the normal guitar based game and add in a new dimension – a complete [or near enough] band – up to four players can become part of your band, either offline on a single console, or via the magic of Xbox live.

Not only do you have the choice of playing lead guitar or bass, but also for the first time in a single game your able to pick up a microphone and sing, or play the drums with your friends or alone. Of course the options open to you depend on the controllers used, without any – you can only sing, via a Xbox live headset but add in a USB microphone or drums and guitars from other Xbox 360 music games [ which will all work on Rock Band 2 to differing levels of usability  - and you have a complete band..

There have been minor improvements to the game in general over Rock Band - but the fundamental game play dynamics remain the same - play gigs to earn money to spend on new items, such as instruments or outfits, and progress unlocking new songs along with venues until you reach super stardom

There are over 80 new tracks in the latest instalment [not including the free 20 tracks via the code inbox - and any tracks you already brought - since unlike other games the older RB1 tracks you have paid for and downloaded work in RB2], that coupled with the ability to export most of the songs from the first game disc, [over 60] for a fee of 400 Marketplace points and the promise of new downloadable songs every week, it will be a while before you are bored of the set list.

Time to get your Rock on!

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Gameplay

After connecting your instrument of choice, or the normal pad and a headset, you jump in creating your onscreen rock god [or goddess] – the process is basically the same as in the previous RB game, but this time your onscreen character is not locked to an instrument, so your free to change your role in the band at any time and carry on using the same avatar – this is very handy if you enjoy playing a few different instruments, since your core and money is pooled into one pot.

After that you’re able to choose a few training modes, quick play modes [basically a quick play version of the game] or world tour.

The training modes offers up a practice mode which allows you to practice sections of tracks, or the entire song, without the pressure of failure – you can also slow down the speed the track is played at – which can be handy for tricky parts

The tutorials offer a few basic skills, some Rock Band specific ones that you will need to know, tailored for the instrument you have plugged in. While this may be old news to fans of the games, there are a few special Rock Band moves you will need to learn, if you’re new to the series such as guitar solos, and drum fills. So it’s a good idea to check out the training tutorials, especially if you’re a drummer, since not only does RB2 have a drum beat trainer- allowing you to prefect many standard drum beat patterns, but there’s also a drum ‘freestyle’ mode – this allows you to jam along with any music that you have on your Xbox 360 hard drive, or external USB device. While this is a slight gimmick, the drum kit used has several ‘kits’ you can select from a roomy kit to a electronic ‘bee bop’ pop kit – so jamming along to some classic tunes from your HDD or ipod, adding in drum fills and beats, can keep you amused for a few hours.

Quick play has a few modes, Quick play – solo is unchanged from the first game, as before you can only choose from a small selection of tracks when you first start the game, with songs added as you progress through the ‘World Tour’ mode – but this mode allows you to just pick up and play either on your own or via multiplayer menu with friends on the same console or via Xbox live.

  • Quick play – band allows you and up to 3 others to play on the one console, in the same way as above each taking the role of drums, vocals, lead guitar or bass – you can choose preset characters and just jump in and start rocking.
  • Quick play – tug of war allows 2 players to battle it out, against each others skill at playing sections of the track, one after the other – try and hit more notes and keep the crowd on your side to win
  • Quick play – Score Duel does exactly what it says on the tin, both players play the same instrument, and at the same skill level and see who can rake in the most points.

World tour is the main meat of the game for most people, either once again solo or with others in a band, via one console or Xbox live, if you choose to go it alone – then your instrument you have connected at the time is the choice of your role, so if you need to swap to singing, you will need to connect a pad and microphone for example. Unlike the older game, you have friends who wish to play on the same console, they do not need a profile, they can simply jump in to the band, and choose a preset character – and get playing, this is a small but very welcome addition.

After making your onscreen persona [or one you created for quick play etc] you can name and design the logo for the band, or just choose a random name/ logo, after that you’re into your first gig. Unlike the first game – in offline tour as you go from place to place you can now earn [and lose] fans, a small addition, and one that adds a little to the game – at certain points your able to hire promoters to help boost your fan base, or hire and fire AI members of the band. You also can hire other people that may unlock new venues, so once again, this adds to the overall gameplay.

One of the new additions is the new ‘challenges’ which can pop up between venues / songs – these add another level to the game, since these can be from your downloaded content, so you sometimes have no idea of the song your being asked to play. You can also choose to play a challenge at any time from the main tour screen.

From the main tour screen you can also choose to play a ‘battle of the bands’ these are challenges set by other players and bands, via the rock band website with not only a set list but some also have rules and goals. This does add a little to the game, since these are updated regularly so offer new and exciting challenges every week.

The overall difficulty of the game has been tweaked slightly – so people looking for a challenging game should be very happy with some one the harder levels / tracks – and those new to the series or genre can even add in a ‘no fail’ from the option menu – this allows you to just enjoy playing a song without worrying about the score – this mode does disable saving and online – but it’s ideal for parties or a late Friday night session!

The entire main core game play has been tweaked slightly but remains true to the original, with the addition of a few new items

Online versions of all of the modes work in basically the same way as offline, but using Xbox live your other band members can be anywhere. These mode works well with minimal lag and can be a great deal of fun, the main aim of this mode remains the same, but the added bonus of Xbox live leader boards, so careful choices need to be made if you want to hit the top spots fro fans etc. if your friends also have the game, this might be the mode you may well spend the most time in, this along with leader boards and DLC, will keep this game popular online for many months to come – much like Rock Band 1.

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Graphics

As a music game goes – the game looks great – from the new 3d style menu system to the updated venues there’s only so much that can be done, but the background animation and effects look slightly better than before, with new video effects and lighting adding to the polish.

The notes are clear to see, without fading into the background of the ‘highway’ – which could happen on some other games, with plain background used as a base, unlike games such as Guitar Hero, where sometimes the highway can look a little busy.

Animation of the onscreen band is done well, with lips and body actions, such and strumming and hitting of the drums, matching the sound track perfectly along with a few special effects added when you hit certain parts of the track.

Sound

For a music game this is the most important part – and Rock band 2 delivers by the truck load. From classics like, American Woman to Living on a prayer – the set list is very good, with the added bonus of adding in most of the RB1 tracks – there’s expected to be nearly 500 songs to play – including DLC by the end of 2008

Each track is instantly recognisable [if you’re a fan!] and the punchy 5.1 sound track makes for a truly epic band experience. Adding to this the crowd singing along with the song, if you’re doing well, and you can really feel as if you’re playing a gig in one of the venues.
Sound effects for missed notes and special items, such as over drive being earned, add to the overall effect, but the effect of going into overdrive, which adds in reverb and echo really does get the blood flowing if you hit it at just the right part.

Overall Score & Replayability

Great update of an already great title, adding in a few new modes and minor tweaks to the difficulty level, has made the game slightly better than the older RB1 game. Add in the ability to export almost the entire track list from the first game for 400 MSP – you lose a few due to copyright issues – and you could well end up with well over 150 tracks to play without any downloads – but the fact that any DLC you have got from RB1 works with it, is the icing on the already very tasty cake.

Drum freestyle mode, even though a tiny addition is also great fun, but the main core game is still at the top of the list if your after a ’music and rhythm’ game, even though it’s completing against Guitar Hero World Tour, Rock Band 2, has the slight edge of a slightly better base set list – but the ability to export songs from the older titles and still play DLC from it as well, may just be the thing that makes this title the winner.