Previews: Rock Band 2 Will Cure Cancer! - Part Two: The Gear

New songs, features and improvements not enough for 'ya? "There are some issues with the hardware too, Karma." Alright, I understand and agree. But guess what? There's more!

Let's start with the microphone. Yeah... You sing into it. As with the other instruments, though, a third-party manufacturer will be releasing a mic with buttons so you don't have to manage the pesky controller. But let's face it, it's still a mic. MOVING ON! (Click images for full size view)

The drums are next. Personally (and I'm not alone here) a big problem with the drums was the noise. Granted, drums are supposed to make noise, but not fake drums. This time around, the pads have been... padded better, so they're a lot quieter. A velocity sensor has been added to the pads as well, so the game will be able to tell if you're playing "softly" or "hard". The bass pedal has been reinforced with a metal plate, so hopefully the horror stories online of broken bass pedals will be a thing of the past. There are also extra plugs for a second bass pedal and up to three cymbal attachments! Now you can hit actual cymbal-shaped pads for the cymbals in the game! Check out the pics below. Finally, if that wasn't enough, the drums are supposed to be wireless! Like all the other instruments, there will be a third party "premium" drum kit. If I wasn't so bad with the drums, I'd totally get it because it's full of amazing win. The last two drum pics say it all.

The guitar/bass have been improved as well. They/it is/are wireless now, and more reliably wireless than the last generation. The strum bar has been tweaked so it feels more "solid" and the buttons have been softened so they are more responsive and don't give off such a loud sound when pressed. Quieter instruments FTW! For those with calibration/lag problems, the official guitar has an optical sensor and an audio sensor that, when held facing the TV, will listen and "look" at a calibration screen and auto-calibrate the lag for you! No more wacky calibration junk! Harmonix cares about YOU. I never had a problem with lag, so I can't speak in this regard, but I can imagine how frustrating it must be not to play spot-on.

The look of the instrument has been given a more realistic facelift. The pseudo-Strat now sports a sweet starburst paint job and a gorgeous wooden-looking fretboard. But what I'm really drooling over is the premium, "guitar version" from MadCatz. I'd give an arm to own one, if I'd still be able to play it. Check out the pics; Official, MadCatz premium guitar, MadCatz premium bass.

Gorgeous, ain't they? The premium versions are going for $200. A hefty price for a glorified controller, but they're beautiful, full-size, and weighted for that "look ma, it's almost real!" effect. I'm almost certain I'm going to get the guitar. All-in-all Rock Band 2 looks like it's going to be eating up a lot of my free time; and I couldn't be happier. I just wish they'd hand out an actual date, beyond their "September" release window. Counting down!

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