Released a year and a half ago, Rock Band 2 continues to lead the pack in terms of music based games. Now, I am the first to admit that I am a little biased, as Rock Band 2 is the game of choice in our home. It just seems to have everything together to really work well. The note charts are far better than in the current Guitar Hero iterations, the presentation is more polished, and the focus is more on the music.
As a music fan, that is the real key.
Probably the biggest advantage that the Rock Band platform has over Guitar Hero is the amount of additional content released. There are currently over 1,000 tracks that have been released, with 14 complete albums from over 250 artists. This means that, even if you don't really like the tracks that come on the disc (of which there are 100), the chances are great that you will find something you like from the store.
Harmonix has been very vigilant about releasing at least a few tracks every week since the original Rock Band game was released. However, due to limited staff and availability, only so much can be released. Also, due to constraints with rights of the music and publishers, not everything can end up released.
After months of beta-testing, Rock Band Network has been released. I'm not sure if most people realize just how revolutionary this is. In essence, it is a set of tools that goes directly in the hands of the artists. Anyone who has the rights to the music can create their own tracks for Rock Band, have the quality tested by the community and Harmonix, then have them released into the wild for everyone to download.
As an artist this is an amazing tool. This opens up the floodgates for indie artists or smaller labels to get their music on the platform. I can personally attest that Rock Band is an excellent vehicle to introduce people to new artists and songs. This increases name recognition and record sales. Also, they receive a portion of the revenue from the sale of the track.
As a consumer this is just as amazing. On launch there were over 100 tracks available. There is a great mix of well known artists, indie artists, and different genres. Prices range from free to $2 a track. What is even better is that the tracks have a downloadable, playable demo available, not just a preview. You can actually play one minute (or 35% of the track) to get a feel for how it is charted, and if you choose to purchase it, it immediately unlocks and you are good to go.
More music, more choices, more fun. Anyway you look at it, this is a win for all involved. Rock on.