My friends, Rock Band 2 has done something horrible to me. It has performed an act so vile, so heart wrenching to me that I question if I’m even considered a human anymore. I don’t know how it happened. One second, I’m playing my fun little music and rhythm game, and the next, I’m holding myself in a corner and great, wet tears are streaming down my face because of Harmonix’s betrayal. I just don’t know what to believe anymore. And I don’t know where to go from here. There’s a knife to the left of the keyboard, and I’m just so tempted to bring my mind to rest and stop asking all of these questions to which there are no answers. To better explain my now eternal suffering, I must explain Rock Band 2.
Harmonix built the atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to end World War II. They caused great suffering to the world and cast a blanket of fear upon it.1 However, they simply were not satisfied with the Cold War, so they buried themselves in a dark room and started tinkering with the idea to drive society insane with the power of technology infused with music that would allow Satan to truly rise again. To trick the masses into falling for their clever plot for the world’s destruction, they released the first pair of Guitar Hero games and started a cultural phenomenon. Then Red Octane caught Harmonix worshipping Satan and jumped ship post-haste. So, they started the Rock Band series to lure people in further, promising them the ability to play something that’s actually similar to the real thing.
Sadly for me, I fell into their trap, and I started playing Rock Band nonstop. It became the cornerstone of any party I attended. I sank all of my money into Microsoft Points so I could by those song packs for all of those bands I had never heard of.2 It became only obvious that this sequel would be a mandatory buy. Like the first piece of candy on a cold Halloween, I sank my teeth into what had appeared to be the sweetest sugar-laden sweet I would ever devour.
What I tasted was much like what I had tasted in the previous game. In fact, outside of a few cosmetic changes, Rock Band 2 looked exactly like Rock Band 1. Every single venue and article of clothing returned, with a few new ones thrown into the mix; but it was essentially the same game, with a new coat of paint and a collection of new songs that seemed to be easily the best setlist ever. But there was something in this plastic disc that has indeed ended all traces of innocence within my empty shell of a body.
While I was still a happy-go-lucky man, I found much enjoyment in the new Battle of the Bands feature. Although it wasn’t a direct confrontation of the musical groups, it was fun enough to see new challenges and sets of songs show up every day. The simple fact that the tour could now be a solo affair was exciting. It made the solo experience much more fun when your buddies were out having all the sex you can imagine while you sit at home writing a review for a videogame Web site about a game where you pretend to be a rock star. The new features are nice and all, but I figured they could really have just been accomplished with a title update rather than a shiny new disc. Then again, that’s how I feel with a lot of sequels these days.3
The main reason to pick up this disc—or, at least, the reason Harmonix, the devil-worshiping prunes, want you to pick up the game—is for the 84 song expansion you’d get. This set, at first glance, seems more than perfect. AC/DC is finally in a videogame! Pearl Jam is finally on Rock Band! Spoonman! Linkin Park! FLEETWOOD MAC! Even the bonus songs are above the norm. Harmonix mainstays like Bang Camero and Anarchy Club contribute some decent entries, but “A Jagged Gorgeous Winter” may be the best song in the game simply because every time I hear it, I think of Christmas. At least, I did. Until the evil within this disc made me lose the meaning of Christmas. And gave me herpes.
And while this setlist is great, I think what truly makes this game great is its instant connectivity to almost every song released for the first title. Before I lost my soul, I had last counted 123 downloaded tracks on my 360’s hard drive. Add that to the 84 on the disc, plus the 55 from the RB1 disc,4 and the 20 freebies to be released Tuesday,5 and you get a large number you can figure out for yourself because when you have no soul, math problems are something you just don’t want to deal with. This is what makes Rock Band such a huge hit for anyone at a party. If you’re willing to shell out the two bucks a pop, you can have a dazzling music select menu that will make you the cream out of any party. Well, that’s how it was for me. Until the hell demons from the disc sprang forth and made me into what I am now.
You see my friends, here is the thing that has ended my existence as a normal human being. It’s an inevitable event that is going to happen to you when you start playing this game. You’ll see it, and then you’ll try to deny what the game is doing to you. But it will be there, in the back of your head, day in and day out. Soon, it’ll start coming out of your mouth at the most inopportune times, and your friends will start to question if they even know you anymore. What Rock Band 2 does to you will begin to swallow you whole until all you can do is think about what Rock Band 2 has done to you and how you’re going to have to live with it until the day you die. And I simply cannot put up with it. Which is why I’m here now. To warn everyone of Harmonix’s treachery. To tell you all to get out while you can before it’s too late! If you start playing Rock Band 2, this is what you will get, because you let your heart win, and you bought the game. And now you can’t trust yourself with anything but the game, and the horrible, damning song that will plague your life, nay, your immortal soul, until the wrath of god rains down upon every creature in existence. Oh, why do we like to hurt so much?6
You see, Rock Band 2 has turned me into a Paramore fan, And for that, I must die.
3. What I’m hoping to see more often is what is happening with Burnout Paradise. Game-changing updates being putout for free or for purchase, rather than hearing rumors for Burnout: Revenge of the Paradise and setting my wallet back another $60. The day we see the Madden series end in disc form is the day I denounce underwear though, and I love my Pikachu boxers.
5. And people, stop bitching about free stuff. Yes, the 20 free songs are not by any band you likely recognize, but that does not mean that they instantly suck. Listening to a few of them made me excited to learn of new groups, and while I hate Underoath with an undying passion, screamo songs are indeed the best ones to sing when drunk off your ass at a party; thank god for the No Fail Modifier.