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A little update goes a long way

Lat Sunday was Rock Band 2 day. I just got off of work and went to a homeboy’s place and played it. The good news is that instruments from both Guitar Hero and Rock Band work on the sequel. And although my friend did not pony up the five dollars to import Rock Band’ s setlist, the game automatically recognized his DLC, which is great.

Another important thing: No Fail mode, a.k.a Drunk Mode, works as advertised. Believe me when I say it was tested.

Benjamin Salmon’s Take:

Although Rock Band 2 is little more than a system update, it’s a very welcome one. The user-interface to kick off local multiplayer got a much needed overhaul. With the original, I often found myself leaning over the drumkit’s D-pad to coordinate the set-up. However, giving the band a stable of musicians to work from streamlines the process significantly and should make getting a ramshackle room of folks together to play the game much simpler.

More importantly for me, the guitar tracks have had the challenge bumped up a bit. For the most part, I found Rock Band a bit of a cakewalk, except for that god damn, hell-sent Molly Hatchet track. I play on hard and typically score five stars, although I gave a shot at expert today, but that didn’t go well at all. The game served up one of it surprise video shoots (not much changes, you get more fans and there’s some pretty rad effects onscreen) with Spoonman as the track. I held it together pretty well, but the solo destroyed me, leaving me demoralized and embittered.

Among the new features are Challenges, temporary setlists that go out over Xbox Live for bands and players to compete in. I’ve played a couple of them, but end up ranking pretty low, as I’m playing solo. But as soon as I convene my band, this should be one of the things that keep me coming back.

I’ve yet to give online play a shot yet (GUI J?), but it worked just fine in the original and I expect it to be no different this time.

Regarding the import of songs, it’s as painless as advertised. The only DLC I have is my beloved Doolittle by Pixies, and it showed up automatically. I did pony up the cash to relicense Rock Band tracks, and its all nicely displayed in the Rock Band 2 library.

The true test is tomorrow. I’m packing my 360 and all my gear out to my brother’s and I’ll let my nephews bang around on the drums and shred on the guitars under No Fail mode. It’ll probably just be a glorious symphony of missed notes, but if they have fun, that’ll be the final nail in the coffin of my sister-in-law’s resistance to getting a 360. And then my band will have a new guitarist and I can live out my dream to be a drummer.

All told, Rock Band 2 unsurprisingly seems exactly like how Rock Band would have turned out if Harmonix had another year to work on it. And that’s just right.

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