Nega-review: Rock Band 2

"At its worst, Rock Band 2 feels like a massive expansion pack." (3) "If your initial exposure to [Rock Band 2] was to walk into the room when your friends were already playing it, you'd probably think there was nothing different from the first Rock Band." (9) "If you're playing one of the songs from the original game, you could forget you're playing Rock Band 2." (7)

"Most folks... may be a bit disappointed to find World Tour largely unchanged." (4) Yes, "the World Tour mode itself is basically unchanged." (8) "The progression ... is almost completely identical to last year's, ... the world map uses the same art and the challenges are set up the same way as in the original." (4) "The World Tour hasn't changed too much." (1) "It's essentially the same show." (3) and "it's hard to notice the newness when there's a big chunk of game that is just the same as it ever was." (4)

"Even the graphics are mostly identical." (7) "All the core elements look virtually unchanged." (3) and "the old [venues] look pretty much the same as before - no new decor?" (3) "Also a let-down is the character creator. A few new faces, a new clothing store and some new tattoos do little to improve upon what was offered last year." (4) "While other games are going for the sliders that enable the player to create an in-game replica, ... RB2 seems to be sticking with a few cartoony looks to choose from and having the clothing make the man (or woman) instead." (9) "The new thrift shop doesn't offer as many new outfits as we'd expected, and characters show the same four animation-set 'attitudes.'" (3) "Since you can't do anything with money you earn in-game other than spend it at the Rock Shop, not offering better expanded support for this feature seems a little disappointing." (8) "We were hoping for a little more visual variety." (3)

As far as song selection, "we still need more songs that girls like to sing, and the game's music selection is approaching a nearly unbearable level of suburban whiteness." (6) "There are going to be a few tracks each person will not care for." (4) and "no matter what your preferences are, you'll likely end up despising 10 or 15 songs." (6) "Paramore is, you know, awful." (1) and "if one more person comes to my apartment and demands to sing 'Say It Ain't So,' I'm going break the disc in half." (6) As for Guns N' Roses big new song, Shackler's Revenge, it's "kind of bad" (1) and "unfortunately boring." (7)

"The [new guitar] sees mostly cosmetic fixes, adding no significant new functionality for guitarists." (7) Overall, it's "still inferior to previous Guitar Hero offerings." (4) As for the new drums, the velocity sensitivity "doesn't really have any impact on the gameplay. " (1) But the vocal gameplay is the worst. "A basic problem of the vocal technology that Harmonix uses is that it lets you pass songs without actually singing the on-screen lyrics; your voice just has to be on pitch. ... There are plenty of supposedly difficult vocals you can pass easily by just singing random consonants or repeating a particular word." (8) "It's stunningly easy to earn 100% on expert vocals in 'Give It Away' and 'Testify.'" (4) Also, "I'm still pretty disappointed by the pitch recognition in the singing section." (9)

A "closely derivative encore," (3) Rock Band 2 is "a collection of interface tweaks and non-earth-shattering new features." (6) "It doesn't reinvent the wheel," (5) it "isn't a vast overhaul of the Rock Band formula." (1) and it "still has its share of frustrating foibles and glitches." (9) In fact, it "doesn't do much to change the formula" (7) at all. In the end, Rock Band 2 is guilty of "often forgoing a great game experience in favor of a great music experience." (6) "Think of this as Rock Band 1.5 - or maybe a little less." (3)

And it came to pass/that the Rock Band 2 Nega-review was born!" As usual, this Nega-review takes the middling negatives from a bunch of overwhelmingly positive reviews and puts them together in a blistering package. The purpose isn't to denigrate a game that's obviously great, but simply to point out the small but valid flaws that sometimes get lost in the tsunami of positive coverage.

Interestingly, the main negative leveled in most of these reviews -- that the new game was too similar to the original Rock Band -- was not seen as a huge negative to most reviewers. Why not? Because the original Rock Band was awesome, they all seem to agree. Reviewers might not be so forgiving if the experience remains largely unchanged the next time around, though...

[1] Giant Bomb
[2] Gamer 2.0
[3] OXM
[4] IGN
[5] GamePro
[6] 1UP
[7] Yahoo!
[8] WorthPlaying
[9] TeamXbox

This article was originally published on Joystiq.