Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The original Rock Band came to the Wii as a particularly gimped version of Harmonix's hit music game. It didn't feature online support, and even more disappointing, it didn't feature any downloadable content. This omission meant there were dozens of tracks that wouldn't be available to owners of Nintendo's console. Thankfully, Rock Band 2 on the Wii is the full game, worthy enough to stand next to its HD brothers.
I'd have to imagine there was a lot of head-scratching going on at Harmonix during the initial brainstorming process for Rock Band 2. After all, they happened to get nearly everything right the first time when it comes to a group music game. They already had the four essential rock band instruments, they were releasing a steady stream of quality downloadable content, and it had a full world tour mode and online play. What more was there for them to do?
As you can expect, the answer is "not much". Outside of the obvious new tracklisting, there isn't too much of note besides a tweaked World Tour mode. Thankfully, this tweaking is certainly for the better, as you can add and remove band members at will throughout the tour. If you're by yourself, you can play any instrument you want. If a friend comes over, you can stay within the same tour and switch instruments as much as you'd like. It's far less constricting than the "these are your band members and instruments and you'll stick with it and like it" system in the first game.
The new tracklist is pretty strong, but there seems to be more tracks in this edition that I wanted to skip over. Granted, this is a matter of personal taste. I loved being able to play "Tangled Up in Blue" by Bob Dylan and the new song from Guns N' Roses, but I can imagine a lot of people not being as enthusiastic about them. However, I think everyone can agree that the inclusion of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" is pretty badass.
If you're having non-gamers over, particularly intoxicated, or just terrible at videogames, "No Fail" mode should be a welcome addition. You'll be able to play as a band and not have to stop mid-song because your idiot friend can't grasp the intricacies of pressing three buttons on a plastic guitar on Easy setting.
It's great that Harmonix was able to squeeze the features of the 360 and PS3 versions into this Wii edition (if a little late). Overall, the game is still the go-to multiplayer music gaming experience. Guitar Hero: World Tour couldn't stand up to this franchise, as Rock Band 2 remains king of the hill for now even if it all feels very familiar.
First Play: 9.0
Replay Value: 8.5