Preview: Rock Band 2 is coming!

Can Rock Band 2 match up to the new Guitar Hero?

Everyone wants to be a rock star. And so our dreams came true last year when EA delivered Rock Band, a game that turned those with minimal music talent into living-room rockers. No longer were virtual musicians confined to the sole axe of Guitar Hero.

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"Rock Band 1"

But since, Guitar Hero fired back, revealing Guitar Hero World Tour, the newest Guitar Hero game that adds drums, bass and vocals to the tasty guitar riffs. So, EA is countering with Rock Band 2, what's looking like a solid upgrade from the original. Here's what we know so far...

The best news for gamers is that Rock Band 2 is fully compatible (including downloadable songs) with the first Rock Band, and that means you can use all the original hardware and only buy the Rock Band 2 game. But, you might want to at least take a peek at the revised hardware, because this time, the gear is much, much better. For starters, the guitar is still of a Fender Strat design, but it sports a solid strum bar and a much-needed wireless connection (thank you!). The drums are also wireless, and are now velocity sensitive. That means the game will recognize how hard you hit each pad.

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"Rock Band 1"

Perhaps the best new hardware-focused feature, though, is the new auto-calibration system. And if it works as well as EA describes, it'll be a godsend for HDTV owners. I never seemed to get the lag issue fixed on my TV, so I assume there are tons of others out there that've also been itching for a feature like that cleans up the annoying delay.

So far, only 10 songs have been officially revealed, but there is said to be more than 80 when the game ships. And that doesn't count the numerous downloadable songs. Here's what's been confirmed, along with a few rumored tracks:

  • "Ace of Spades" by Mot?rhead

  • "Almost Easy" by Avenged Sevenfold

  • "Any Way You Want It" by Journey

  • "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett

  • "Chop Suey!" by System of a Down

  • "Everlong" by Foo Fighters

  • "Give It Away" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

  • "Hello There" by Cheap Trick

  • "I Was Wrong" by Social Distortion

  • "Kids in America" by The Muffs

  • "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi

  • "Panic Attack" by Dream Theater

  • "Pinball Wizard" by The Who

  • "Pump It Up" by Elvis Costello

  • "Rock n' Me" by Steve Miller Band

  • "Testify" by Rage Against the Machine

  • "White Wedding Pt. 1" by Billy Idol

Another new feature is the option to create custom setlists in the game's Quickplay mode, a nice addition to keep this mode fresh. But the biggest change in the actual game comes with the all new World Tour mode.First comes the new Tour Challenge mode that features band challenges, offering a less linear approach to the tour. It can be played in solo or multiplayer mode, up to a four-person band.

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"Rock Band 1"

We're hoping to get lots of time playing around with Rock Band 2 at E3 next week, so stay tuned for the rock. We'll also be doing a head-to-head feature with Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour, and that's something you won't want to miss!

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