The music rhythm genre may be saturated on the Xbox 360 and PS3 due to yearly Guitar Hero and Rock Band editions, but Wii owners are still trying to get a cut of the full band experience pie. Harmonix’s original Rock Band on Wii was ultimately an unfinished product due to limited soundtrack, missing game modes and complete lack of downloadable content. Rock Band 2 for the Wii promises to uphold the exact same features as its rival consoles, but did Harmonix achieve this goal?
You’ve already read David’s take on Rock Band 2 versus Guitar Hero World Tour, but how about another take? Click over to read our second review and watch a gameplay montage video.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, music rhythm games controlled by cheap plastic instruments sells the industry nowadays. Rock Band 2 incorporates a perfect blend of casual gameplay resting atop a brutally core experience which boasts superior replayability like no other game out there.
The full band instruments included with the $189.99 version of Rock Band 2 are your standard USB microphone, guitar, and drum set (second guitar sold separately). Unlike Rock Band’s previous lackluster drum kit, Rock Band 2 features quieter velocity sensitive pads along with a more durable kick peddle. The instruments work well enough and should hold up to hours of playtime.
However, Wii owners now have the chance to interchange their instrument sets with fellow Guitar Hero peripherals. Over the past few months there has been much confusion over peripheral compatibility. Guitar Hero World Tour’s instruments are fully compatible with Rock Band 2 Wii. Not only that, but Guitar Hero 3 guitars are compatible as well. One simple difference resides in Rock Band 2’s in-game drumming which utilizes four pads whereas Guitar Hero’s drum kit offers five. You’ll just need to mentally learn your way around the kit interface.
Rock Band 2 offers a campaign mode called “World Tour” in which you form a band and play set lists around the globe. This version of a single player experience is by far greater than Guitar Hero’s offerings. The fully expanded character editor also packs many creation options to give your stage a personal taste.
Soundtrack selection in Rock Band 2 covers many music genres ranging from the 1960s to the most current releases. The selection feels like the developers really wanted to create a solid piece of software without filler tracks inserted just to make the title appear larger over rival music games. Harmonix also promises to offer their massive music store by early 2009 and hopes to provide every song in the library by year’s end. All DLC from Rock Band 2 can be streamed from the SD card without hassle.
Online play works just as it should. Friend codes are of course required for all online modes but that is to be expected by now. Up to four Wiis can be connected online in a single band and no lag was found when play-tested. Leaderboards, statistics, and high scores litter the online modes with live player data which constantly urge you to compete in the Battle of the Bands mode. This mode gives players daily challenges to complete in order to be ranked among the top Rock Band 2 players in the world.
Rock Band 2’s visuals by far outstrip not only Guitar Hero, but many Wii games in other genres. The Wii version simply looks like a lower resolution version of the PS3/Xbox 360 titles. Players will, of course, be concentrating on their music note runways, but the unique art styles and presentation gives those waiting for a turn something to look at. Animations look great with the only exception being the drummers who look like animatronics playing the same quarter notes over and over again. The overall visual feel of the music runway is more engrossing than you would expect. Runways shake on just the right beats while artistic backgrounds burst forth when a perfect combo is achieved.
Rock Band 2 is a solid package on Wii. Visuals, sound selection, gameplay, online, interface and more work together as a seamless music rhythm game which should not be forgotten when considering a Wii game purchase. The fact that Guitar Hero instruments are compatible gives you yet another excuse to pick up the disk. You won’t regret it.
-Same great social band gameplay utilizing almost the exact same features as fellow Xbox 360 and PS3 versions
-Beautiful visual style
-Great track selection spanning multiple genres of music
-Fleshed out online modes stock full of leaderboards and statistics.
-Harmonix’s extensive DLC store
-Framerate dips on rare occasions
-A few stiff animations