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Rock Band 2

Rock Band 2

Rock Band 2

Rock Band 2 is a 2008 music video game developed by Harmonix. It is the sequel to Rock Band and is the second title in the series. The game allows up to four players to simulate the performance of popular songs by playing with controllers modeled after musical instruments. Players can play the lead guitar, bass guitar, and drums parts to songs with "instrument controllers", as well as sing through a USB microphone. Players are scored on their ability to match scrolling musical "notes" while playing instruments, or by their ability to match the singer's pitch on vocals.

Rock Band 2 features improved drum and guitar controllers, while supporting older controllers, as well. New features include a "Drum Trainer" mode, a "Battle of the Bands" mode, online capabilities for "World Tour" mode, and merchandising opportunities for the players' virtual bands. In addition to the 84 songs included on the game disc and 20 free downloadable songs, over 1400 additional downloadable songs have been released for the Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 versions, with more added each week. All of these songs, existing and future, are compatible with all Rock Band titles.

Rock Band 2 software was released in North America for the Xbox 360 on September 14, 2008, along with individual instrument peripherals, and later for the PlayStation 3 on October 19, 2008. The software/hardware bundles for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were made available on October 19, 2008. Versions of the game for the PlayStation 2 and Wii platforms were released on December 18, 2008.

Rock Band 2 received highly positive reviews from critics upon release and sold 1.7 million copies through the end of 2008.

Rock Band 2 Gameplay

The core gameplay in Rock Band 2 is mostly unchanged from the original Rock Band. Players use controllers modeled after musical instruments to simulate the performance of rock songs. Players use these instruments to play scrolling musical "notes" on-screen in time with the music. Rock Band 2 offers single-player and multiplayer gameplay for lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and vocals, allowing for any combination of parts to play as a band.

During song performances, the game displays up to three tracks of vertically scrolling colored music notes, one section each for lead guitar, drums, and bass. The colored notes on-screen correspond to buttons on the guitar and drum peripherals. For lead and bass guitar, players play their notes by holding down colored fret buttons on the guitar peripheral and pushing the controller's strum bar; for drums, players must strike the matching colored drumhead, or step on the pedal to simulate playing bass drum notes. Along the top of the screen is the vocals display, which scrolls horizontally. The lyrics display beneath green bars, which represent the pitch of the individual vocal elements. When singing vocals, the player must sing in relative pitch to the original vocals. A pitch indicator displays the singer's accuracy relative to the original pitch. The remainder of the screen is used to display the band's virtual characters as they perform in concert.

A screenshot of a full band playing Lush's "De-Luxe" in Rock Band 2. Each instrument is represented by a different interface: lead guitar (left), drums (middle), bass guitar (right), vocals (top). The Band Meter (green meter on left) measures the performance of each band member, while the Energy Meter (gold meter beneath each interface) tracks each player's Overdrive.

During cooperative play as a band, all players earn points towards a common score, though score multipliers and "Overdrive" are tracked separately for each player. Overdrive is individually collected by players during select portions of a song by successfully playing all white notes (or yellow notes for vocals) within that section (or by using the guitar controller's whammy bar during white sustained notes). Once a player's Energy Meter is filled halfway, they can deploy their Overdrive, resulting in the "Band Meter" (which tracks how well each player is doing) changing more dramatically. This allows players to strategically use Overdrive to raise the Band Meter and pass portions of a song they otherwise might have failed. Overdrive can be used to activate score multipliers, which vary based on a player's note streak. Players can deploy Overdrive independently of each other, as well as collect additional Overdrive while it is deployed and draining.

Each band member can choose the difficulty at which they play (spanning Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert). If a player does not play well enough and falls to the bottom of the Band Meter, they will fail out of the song and their instrument will be muted from the audio mix. However, any active player can activate their Overdrive to bring failed players back into the song, "saving" the band member. However, a band member can only be saved twice; after the third failure, they cannot be brought back for that song. Failed players continuously drag the band's Band Meter down until they are saved. If the player is not saved before the Band Meter reaches the bottom, the band fails the song. Players can earn Overdrive bonuses from "Unison Phrases" and extra points from a "Big Rock Ending."

Reception
Rock Band 2, like its predecessor, was met with critical acclaim. 1UP.com likened it to a "system update" rather than an entirely new game, describing it as "a collection of interface tweaks and non-earth-shattering new features designed to make the Rock Band experience more enjoyable and less frustrating". The "No Fail" mode has been recognized as a very useful feature for balancing the skill levels of players at different levels, particularly inexperienced players.

The Xbox 360 version of Rock Band 2 was the third best-selling game in North America during September 2008, selling 363,000 copies. and also has an average critic review score of 92% on Metacritic, tying it for the 11th highest-rated game for the Xbox 360 and the 7th highest-rated game on the PlayStation 3. The Xbox 360 version continued to sell more than 119,000 copies in October 2008, while a similar number of units were sold of the PlayStation 3 version following its October debut. Rock Band 2 sold 1.7 million units across all platforms in North America in 2008, about half as many as Guitar Hero World Tour.

IGN praised the Wii version for including features like online play and downloadable content that were missing from the platform's edition of the first Rock Band, saying "the sequel more than makes up for the original's problems."

Game Informer considered Rock Band 2 their "Game of the Month" when it was released, and went on to include it in their list of "The Top 50 Games of 2008" and then in their list of the 200 best games of all-time.


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