Yesterday Harmonix dropped the official announcement of Rock Band 2, the follow up to their immensely successful music game that released late last year. The second installment in the series will not introduce a new instrument, as previously rumored, but it will be improving on the instruments that already are out there. The new guitar will be a replica of the Fender Stratocaster and will feature faux woodgrain buttons. The new drum kit will be sturdier than the original (which occasionally had problems reported of the plastic base pedal mount breaking) and should be designed to be quieter in use (as opposed to the original, which sounds like a herd of elephants running through whenever it’s played).
The biggest news about Rock Band 2 is that it will be completely compatible with any songs you’ve downloaded for Rock Band 1. In fact, all Rock Band song downloads will be universally playable across both games, which means that even if you don’t buy Rock Band 2, you’ll still be able to buy and play new songs with your original Rock Band game. This is exciting stuff that works in the consumer’s favor, and it looks like it’s becoming an industry standard for music games, as Guitar Hero World Tour will be adopting a similar policy for reverse compatibility with Guitar Hero 3 downloads.
Additionally, Rock Band 2 will feature brand new online play modes and over 80 new songs, all of which will be master recordings from the bands. There haven’t been confirmations about the new online modes, but the strong hint has been that you’ll be able to play the Band World Tour mode online now. Rock Band 2’s tracks will feature more female fronted bands, as well as a number of groups that have never been featured in music games before. Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos says in an AP interview, “With the original ‘Rock Band,’ the focus was on innovation. With ‘Rock Band 2,’ the focus is on perfection of the experience. We’ve had a year to listen to our fans and build out the scope, depth and polish of the experience, so ita second-generation band game.”
Rock Band 2 will ship first for the XBox 360 in September and then later in the year for the Wii, Playstation 2, and Playstation 3. There’s no comment yet on how much the game will cost or exactly what configurations will ship. It’s safe to guess that there will be a big bundle that comes with all the instruments, as well as a standalone game and the ability to buy the instruments separately, though. The September release will put Rock Band 2 on the shelves a month before Guitar Hero World Tour’s October release.