Rock Band 2 Unboxing for PS3

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Yesterday, Rock Band 2 was officially released for Playstation 3 across North America. I managed to snag a copy of the SE Bundle after some looking around. Here’s a brief overview of what you get along with my initial impressions. Expect a full(er) review later. And yes, I am going to be lazy and link to the Wikipedia article on Rock Band 2 for those of you in need of some background information. (For those of you looking for just unboxing photos, we have those too, along with a comparison between instruments of Rock Band 1 and Rock Band 2)

For $190 US/CAD (the CAD version actually being cheaper with the exchange rate changes of late), you get the updated guitar, improved wireless drums, microphone, and of course, the game. For comparision, the original Rock Band SE bundle cost only $170 US when it was released 11 months ago. So, where is the extra $20 going to?

Firstly, there are 84 songs included in the Rock Band 2 setlist, versus only 58 for the original. Additionally, 20 more tracks have been promised as free downloadable content via an access code included with the game.

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Secondly, the instruments have changed. The drums are now wireless, the pads are quieter and the bass pedal has been reinforced with a top layer of metal, though it’s still mostly plastic. Having quieter pads is the main reason I decided to buy the bundle even though I already have the original RB bundle. (Getting an extra guitar also helps)

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The guitar itself is changed, though I wouldn’t say that it has been improved like the drums. The neck and fretboard now have a faux-wood look, though strangely, the body of the guitar included with the PS3 Rock Band 2 bundle is the same black/white colour as the original, and not the “sunburst” colour of the version included with the Xbox 360 bundle. Perhaps the sunburst colour was only for the 360 version? After all, Microsoft did strike a deal with Harmonix to get the game released a month earlier for the 360.

Update: Flameburst/Sunburst Strat Guitar NOT included with bundle

It appears that I’m not the only one noticing that the bundled guitar that comes with Rock Band 2 does not have the flameburst/sunburst design on the body, and only the fretboard has the faux-wood look, as seen in the images here. Others are reporting that the Xbox 360 RB2 SE bundle also comes with the black-bodied guitar. It appears the only way to get the new design is to buy a standalone guitar. I’m a bit displeased at this, since the “sunburst” design was heavily showcased in all the Rock Band 2 previews and promotional images, so it was expected to be included in the bundle. Maybe Harmonix had a surplus of black plastic guitar bodies to get rid of.

Besides the cosmetic change, the guitar fret buttons are quieter as promised, but the strum bar is a bit louder. This is because it has a definite “click” and “stop” to it, rather than the “mushy” feel of the original that turned some people off. (It took me a while to get used to it)

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The microphone is essentially identical to the Rock Band 1 version. Gameplay is, of course, basically the same as before. (If it ain’t broke…) There are some nice addons, such as “No Fail” mode that allows you to make it through any song without the annoyance of failure. You can also now play the Band World Tour mode online, expanding your options for the game, since this was undoubtedly the best mode of the original Rock Band. There also doesn’t appear to be a strictly separate “Solo” mode anymore; instead you are free to start a group in Band World Tour mode consisting only of yourself. These are nice updates that add to the replay value.

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That’s all I have to say for now. Expect a full review later. For now, you can browse some photos I’ve taken of the Rock Band 2 bundle, along with some comparision shots between the Rock Band 1 and Rock Band 2 instruments.

Update: Rock Band 2 vs. Rock Band 1 drums loudness/noise

I’ve uploaded a quick video that shows the difference in sound between the Rock Band 1 and updated Rock Band 2 drums.

Unfortunately, my camera is not the best at picking up sound, so the video doesn’t fully reflect the difference. I’d say the best example in the video is the difference in noise between the yellow pad hits on the two drum sets. The new drums are substantially quieter/softer than the originals.

Update: Rock Band/Guitar Hero instrument compatibility guide

Joystiq has put together an up-to-date Rock Band and Guitar Hero instrument compatibility guide. Pretty much all the instruments are shown for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii versions of available games. The good news? It appears that both Rock Band 1 & 2 instruments are compatible with Guitar Hero: World Tour.

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