Battle of the Virtual Bands: Rock Band 2 vs Guitar Hero: World Tour - 19/09/2008

You're either the type of person that invests their money wisely or spends it on rhythm games. Well, you're reading this, so let's get rocking!

So, you're a male/female with an active social life, deaf neighbours and a confidence that doesn't buckle when thrust in the spotlight (i.e. the glare of 3 or more drunken mates). You do not live in a castle built from 50 notes and your father is not named Bill Gates so, reasonably, you're on the market for just one rocking rhythm game this year (the prices: disc 40, guitar 40, drums 60, mic 15). You've come to the right place, my hard rocking amigo.

Both Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour feature fully-kitted four-player modes (online and off), extensive playlists (70+ tracklist's ever expanding through Live support) and an arena's worth of customisable options. But, above all, both are frighteningly, FRIGHTENINGLY fun. However, the cupboards in your bedroom can only hold so many plastic instruments before they suddenly come spilling out, embarrassing you in front of the first reasonably attractive girl you've had in there since you don't know when…So! Which faux rock-em-up should accompany you into an amplified September?

Rock Band set the grand target for a full band-based game.

Last year's scramble for centre stage between Neversoft's Guitar Hero 3 and MTV's Rock Band – the first rhythm game ever to allow bass, drums, guitar and a mic - ultimately proved 4-player band bonding a tad more social and a lot more fun to solitarily clicking those fake frets cross-legged on your bed, surrounded by Steve Vai posters. But if Neversoft know anything it's how to evolve and move with the times; just look at how their aging Tony Hawk series responded to EA's brilliant Skate. Ok, bad example... While they might have underestimated the Harmonix-developed newcomer last time, now both games publishers are aware of the repercussions this musical face off could have in terms of sequel opportunity and financial gain and there is no doubt both are pushing each other to bold new musical heights. Neither game's followings will settle for a simple tracklist update or lethargic Aerosmith endorsement.

Perhaps we have Rock Band's kick-up-the-arse-presence to thank for the conception of Guitar Hero: World Tour's most substantial new feature: the track creator. This allows you to use the bass, guitar or drums (no mic unfortunately as apparently the gaming public is too childish to refrain from shouting words like, ‘bum' in their songs) to actually create and share your own tracks on Live – think Halo 3's shared films, but more orally pleasing (if you sniggered at this, YOU are the reason we are not allowed the mic in the track creator). While people who prefer jamming along to notes of the automatic, scrolling variety might be put off by the requirement of a little creativity, Neversoft have added an entire catalogue of sample beats, riffs and breaks for you to drop in, either complimenting your own talent or acting as the very foundation for it. Unless the track creator is merely a rushed conception hastily constructed under the intimidating glare of Rock Band 2, this feature could well keep World Tour alive long after they've milked dry their contracts with desperate rock legends of yonder.

World Tour boasts the ambitious track creator.

Not to be outdone, Rock Band 2 will allow you to insert your entire Xbox 360 custom playlist into the game and allow you to play along. However, the game won't recognise any of your songs and so won't generate notes, meaning this ability is more a fruity exercise in futility than a wall-shaking rock workout.

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