Back in July, a GameSpy preview for Rock Band 2 claimed "the phoneme detection system used for the 'talkie' parts [in Rock Band] has been completely stripped and a new one has been put in place [for Rock Band 2]." Well, Harmonix definitely stripped out the old system, but it seems to have forgotten to put a new one in its place, as the new game seems to award perfect vocal points if it detects any noise during the "talkie" parts.
We first became aware of this problem when we saw this video of a singer using a bunch of gibberish to pass the Beastie Boys' "So Whatcha Want" with a 100% rating on Expert difficulty. It's an impressive illustration of the faulty phoneme detection, but it's not wholly satisfying -- the singer is occasionally on rhythm and his voice occasionally does kind of match with the on-screen words. We wondered: how bad would a vocal performance have to be to fail this song?
The answer, apparently, is "worse than a monotone recitation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence." As shown in the above video we've put together, even a dry reading of a 200+-year-old political treatise can be victorious in a Rock Band 2 vocal battle. Rest assured, there's no computer trickery going on here -- this video was taken as a direct feed from the Xbox 360 and has not been edited in any way. Now we only have one more question: when will Harmonix put in that improved phoneme detection system it's long been promising.