Rock Band 2 is the sequel to Harmonix\'s Rock Band, the game that popularized virtual bands for the Western audience. The game play has been improved, but there are some new features as well as many great new songs, while it still has that same solid feel to it. Many view it as more of an expansion than a sequel. Either way it\'s worth considering if you like playing air guitar, singing, or banging on drums.

For those of you who are not familiar with the game (where have you been?), you can basically form your own virtual band and play guitar, bass, drums, or sing along with the music. You will be rewarded/docked on how well can play/sing in sync with the notes as they pass by a bar on the bottom of the screen. If you play well, you can accumulate star power and when you trigger it, it will let you score double points while it\'s active. Star power can also help you recover popularity with the fans if you\'re struggling while performing a song.

If you currently own Rock Band, you can import most of the Rock Band 1 songs with the exceptions of Enter Sandman by Metallica and covers of Paranoid (Black Sabbath) and Run to the Hills (Iron Maiden) for five dollars. The loss of these songs (especially Enter Sandman for me) is a bummer, but having the song collection merged without the need for the RB1 disc is worth it in my opinion. The downloadable content will be playable in either version of the game. If you have a PS2 or a Wii, you cannot import your songs.

One of the great improvements in this sequel is that you are no longer restricted by the instrument you play. For instance in Rock Band, in order to play as the band, the founding member could not change their instrument. I\'m happy to report that this limitation has been resolved.

Another great addition is the ability to hire staff. As you play and gain fans, you can hire various staff members that will unlock venues, opportunities, or to help you earn more money and popularity. Some of the staff members have trade-offs that may cost you more money or fans in return for their services, so choose wisely.

The tour mode game play is pretty much unchanged. As you play a song you will earn stars, money, and fans depending on how well you do. There will be events that you can play to win a tour bus, jet, a sound guy, roadies, and can be used to eventually work your way to immortal stardom. If you\'re connected to the internet you can see how your band ranks worldwide and compete in various tournaments. There\'s plenty of hours of game play and you\'re bound to get your money\'s worth here.

Tour mode is all about gaining stars and fans. In Battle of the Bands mode, you must complete a set list and beat another band\'s score to claim the victory. Challenge Mode also uses the score to unlock new challenges and ultimately unlock new songs to play. The challenge mode tier system is very similar to the Guitar Hero progression mode.

Although I haven\'t used any of the new and improved instruments, I hear they are much better. The drums are now wireless, quieter, and have a metal kick petal instead of a plastic one that often breaks. The guitar has a built in camera that helps it auto calibrate.

The song list will not disappoint. There are eighty four songs on the disc and twenty free to download as long as you\'re the original owner of the game (clever of them!).

Some of the new songs include "Battery" from Metallica, "Chop Suey" by System of a Down, "Down With The sickness" by Disturbed, "Everlong" by Foo Fighters, "Livin\' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, "One Way or Another" by Blondie, "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World, "White Wedding" by Billy Idol and many more.

There are songs for people of all ages. There are some classic rock songs such as "Eye of The Tiger", "Pinball Wizard", "Any Way You Want it", "Carry on Wayward Son", "American Woman", and more. Of special mention for our audience is "Spirit in the Sky", a classic rock song that talks about Jesus and Heaven. If you\'re the original owner of the game you\'re entitled to a free Kutless song too. There\'s also songs from the eighties, nineties and this century. There are tracks from Guns N Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alanis Morissette, Duran Duran, Grateful Dead, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and many more.

Graphically this game looks pretty much the same. I love what they do with your band name. You see it pasted on bumper stickers, CD covers, backdrops for your stage, and so forth. There\'s a lot of eye candy but it\'s of pretty much the same quality as the first Rock Band in my opinion.

When it comes to appropriateness, this is a rock game and it\'s subject to the typical Rock \'n Roll issues. Many of the songs do not glorify God, and in fact they promote immoral behavior. One of the more offensive songs include "Man in the Box", which has lyrics that include "deny your maker." There is some minor language in a couple of the songs too. Some of the band members will be wearing skimpy or revealing clothing. It is neat that they included "The Feeling" by Kutless and "Spirit in the Sky".

In conclusion this game is a great "replacement" for Rock Band if you import all of your tracks over. It\'s a solid game to get if you\'re new to music games. If you\'re against secular or rock music in general, then I would not recommend this game.

Game Play 19/20
Graphics 9/10
Sound 10/10
Stability 5/5

Appropriateness: 45/50
-1.5 for revealing clothing
-3.5 for sexual references
-3.5 for swearing
Overall 90.5%

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