Gaming & Technology

Battle of band games

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.

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.