29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Set is still worth buying, even for RB1 owners,
This review is from: Playstation 3 Rock Band 2 Special Edition (Video Game)
We have had both Rock Band 1 and Rock Band 2 since their release dates, and I waited for a month of continuous gameplay so that I could make sure that I addressed some of the differences accurately.
The graphics have never been the high point of this game, and they are slightly improved, still artsy-cartoony and PS2-looking, but still cleverly done (e.g., they are not that crisp HD cartooniness of "Buzz!" but they'll do). Gameplay is much the same as Rock Band 1, with the MAJOR exception that you can start a tour yourself and your character can play any instrument (previously, your character was tied to one instrument and if you played alone, you generally had to play 2 instruments to go "on tour"). Harmonix added in online challenges ("battles") that can be played weekly and are available for free over the Playstation Network. The extra downloadable songs are generally inexpensive and bring a massive diversity of artists (from Underoath to Devo to Paramore, and by now, RB has amassed an amazing amount of downloadable songs (over 500+ to date).
One minor quibble is that the same problem exists in RB2 as RB1, namely, that you cannot delete tracks that you absolutely hate. Thus, you can still fail out in the middle of a challenge because RB has picked an "impossible" song as one of its randoms, and I wish they would do a better job with their randomizer. Also, when you play in "Quickplay" mode, you cannot pick your character, unlike RB1. So I end up with "Earl Stevens, Jr." a lot instead of my own character, which is disappointing when I don't want to go through a tour (basically because I can't remember "which town" has the music I want to play - e.g., where is "Everlong," again? The Amsterdam amphitheater?).
The drums are head over heels better than the old version. They are quieter, springier on rebound, have a metal reinforced pedal to slow down breakages (though the spring mechanism still makes your pedaling-leg tired after a session), and are just as easy to break down and put away. Wireless is awesome, but it is a DRAIN on your AA batteries (we went through the first set of 4 Energizers in less than 10 days), so invest in some rechargables. Love the fact that it has a port for fake cymbals (which don't change the gameplay, they just give you something different to hit on the greens/blues/reds).
The guitar is somewhat improved, with the Start button surrounded by a ridge of plastic, though if you've been playing on RB1, you may actually like that guitar better. The one in the special edition package does NOT come with a sunburst "finish" though - it's the same old Stratocaster body with a fake wood neck. The "auto-calibration" mechanism in the guitar (something missing from RB1) created some distressing results, so it was not as great of a feature as I initially hoped for, and we went back to manual calibration with our HDTV.
The mic is the same old, same old rebranded Logitech Vantage mic. But the Pelican and MadCatz upgraded versions aren't actually much better, so this mic will get you by.
The equipment is much higher quality than the first batch. We returned at least two RB1 guitars on warranty with the first set and are returning our RB2 guitar for failing to recognize overdrive. However, EA Customer Support has been marvelous EVERY time, so I highly recommend purchasing without fear.
I was initially hesitant about replacing what I thought was an expensive RB1 set in the first place with a marginally more expensive RB2 set. However, I found the drum peripheral more than worth the expense - and after playing them, I was satisfied and did not see the need to cough up another $300 for the premium Ion. Conclusion? RB2 is just as fun as RB1, if not more. The track list is GREAT, the gameplay is slightly improved, and everyone loves it at parties. For casual gamers who just like to pick up a fake instrument every now and again, it's a must-buy.