Rock Band is ready for an encore, less than a year after the series launched.
A sequel to the play-along music game that redefined the genre will be released first for the Microsoft Xbox 360 in September and then for other consoles, publisher MTV Games and developer Harmonix announced this week.
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Rock Band 2 will feature a new variety of instruments, online modes and songs, and will allow players to import their previously downloaded songs.
“With the original Rock Band, the focus was on innovation,” Harmonix co-founder and CEO Alex Rigopulos said. “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 it feels like a second-generation band game.”
The game will be available for Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2, as well as Nintendo's Wii, sometime later this year after the September launch on the Xbox 360.
Rock Band allows as many as four gamers to form a virtual band, thrashing and singing along to songs with friends online or in person on various phony instruments. The second edition will feature a playlist of more than 80 songs — all master recordings — which will include more female-fronted bands and artists who have never contributed to a music game.
All previous versions of Rock Band instruments, as well as many from the competing Guitar Hero franchise, will be compatible with Rock Band 2. Harmonix will unleash a collection of new instrument-shaped controllers, including a sturdier drum kit and a Fender Stratocaster reproduction guitar lined with faux wood-grain buttons.
In an interview with IGN, a Rock Band developer said downloadable content will be able to be played on either the original game or the sequel.
That content includes a pack of 12 songs to be released July 15 from The Who — ranging from My Generation to Who Are You — that all use the band's master recordings. The tracks will be available for $1.99 individually or $19.99 together. The special release coincides with the upcoming VH1 Rock Honors ceremony commemorating The Who.
Rigopulos wouldn't comment on how much Rock Band 2 would cost. The original game, bundled with all the instruments, went for about $170 at launch.
Guitar Hero World Tour — the fourth iteration of the franchise that started the music-game trend — will be released in October and will feature a Rock Band-like assemblage of peripheral instruments for the first time, as well as the ability to compose instrumental music, a feature Rigopulos said won't be found on Rock Band 2.”
MTV Games and Harmonix plan to announce additional Rock Band 2 details — including the game's play list — at the E3 Media and Business Summit in mid-July.