One of the most important things to consider before buying a music/rhythm game is the track listing. If the songs in the game weren’t any fun to play, then why would you want to get it? Thankfully, both Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour offer a good selection of songs. But which one is better?
If you are basing it only on what comes on the game disc and you don’t plan on buying any more songs, then Guitar Hero wins. GH: WT has easily the best mix of quality and variety and really covers a broad spectrum of artists and music types. There also aren’t as many “misses” as RB2’s list and far more “hits”. Having three Tool songs, plus “Hotel California” and “Beat It” certainly help as well.
However, if you base it on the sum total of on-disc songs as well as DLC, Rock Band 2 is clearly the superior game. Every single week there are new songs available for Rock Band 2. All of the RB1 DLC works. And you can even transfer most of the Rock Band 1 songs onto your hard drive so you can play them in RB2. Rock Band 2 has an advantage over GH: WT of several hundred songs at this point, and I don’t know if Activision will ever be able to catch up in this regard.
Best On-Disc Tracks – Guitar Hero: World Tour
Best DLC – Rock Band 2
Another massively important question is which game has the better plastic instruments.
Unfortunately, neither game is the clear cut winner here, so to get the best kit you are going to have to mix and match. Guitar Hero: World Tour’s guitar is far, far, far better than the RB2 guitar. The RB2 guitar is greatly improved over the RB1 Stratocaster, but it doesn’t look, feel, or play nearly as nice as the GH:WT guitar.
On the other hand, Rock Band 2’s drum set is the definite winner so far. I like the design and feel of the GH:WT set, as it is certainly a lot more realistic, but it is also remarkably poorly constructed and needs some serious tweaking and tuning before it is close to playable. And when you are spending close to $100 for a fake drum kit, having it not work correctly out of the box is a pretty big problem. Rock Band 2’s kit is simply better. The GH:WT kit might get the bugs worked out eventually, but for now I have to recommend the Rock Band 2 drum kit.
Best Guitar – Guitar Hero: World Tour
Best Drums – Rock Band 2
The final piece of the puzzle is the gameplay. Sure we know the best instruments and which one has a more rocking song list, but which game is actually more fun to play?
I have to admit, I greatly prefer Guitar Hero’s big, bright, easy to read circular notes versus Rock Band’s little square notes. Guitar Hero is just a lot easier to read. And it needs to be easier to read since the note charts are generally more difficult in GH than in Rock Band.
My decision here comes down to one thing – Do you plan on playing the game by yourself or with other people? When playing by yourself, I think that Guitar Hero: World Tour offers a better challenge and is more fun overall. But it’s multiplayer is basically broken by the fact that it is quite a bit more difficult as well as the fact that if one person in the band fails a song, everyone fails the song. Rock Band 2 is a lot more friendly to all players with easier note charts, allows you to save band members that failed out so you can continue playing, and even has a “No Fail Mode” so you really don’t have to worry about anything other than having fun and playing music with your friends and family.
Best Solo Play – Guitar Hero: World Tour
Best Multiplayer – Rock Band 2
What About Rock Revolution
There is a third entry in this battle in Konami’s Rock Revolution. Sadly, while Guitar Hero and Rock Band are fighting it out with their biggest and best weapons, Rock Revolution brought a plastic sword and a pop gun.
Rock Revolution is a comedy of errors. It has a bad track list full of songs we have played in other games, and they are all cover versions. The gameplay interface is incredibly poorly designed and hard to use. And the drum set looks like a baby ate a “Name the Shapes” book and vomited up the pieces. Four years ago, Rock Revolution would have been okay because we hadn’t seen all of this stuff before, but in 2008, it is just sad.
As you can see, this comparison is actually very, very close and neither game has a real clear advantage in terms of gameplay or instruments. In the track listing, however, Rock Band 2 has a huge advantage thanks to its consistent weekly DLC. RB2 is also a lot more noob-friendly, so it is a better multiplayer game to play with family and friends, which really is the whole point here. For these reasons, I have to give Rock Band 2 the nod here. Honestly, both games have their strengths, and I would recommend buying both of them, but if you can only pick one Rock Band 2 is the better of the two.
Winner = Rock Band 2
Create the ultimate kit with Rock Band 2, the GH:WT guitar, the RB2 drum set, and plenty of MS Points so you can buy all of that lovely DLC. And then when GH:WT has a price drop, pick it up too.