Rock Band is generally considered a casual game. However, after spending 250 hours into it I can confirm it is not.
A while ago my older sister bought a Rock Band 2 bundle online for a bargain. Unfortunately the drums were in bad condition, the mic didn't work and one of the guitars had sticky keys. The disk was scratched beyond repair and wouldn't run 60 of the 84 songs on the disk. After grabbing a friend's copy I played hours and hours a day, every day. I sucked at it, and nobody would play with me, but I didn't care. It was new, fun, and unique. Today I've played around 300 hours and I am still having fun due to online features and the huge selection of downloadable music in the Rock Band store. This is why.
We all know how rhythm games, or more specifically guitar games, work. You see notes coming down the lane and you play the note as it runs over the "Sweet Spot". This can go from plucking a few chords in a song all the way to playing intense drum solos. What is more important is Rock Band's take on this. The notes are more responsive and the overall feel is superior to their Guitar Hero counterpart. In Rock Band you can have up to four people playing, be it from around the world or all on the same couch. You have your given, a guitarist and a bassist. The guitar is a bit more challenging and overall is more satisfying to play. Playing bass is great for new players, they won't feel left behind as they can play on a higher difficulty. Then comes vocals, which have been seen before with the same mechanics in karaoke games. And lastly, the drums have never been seen in any other rhythm games. You have a snare, hat, tom and a clash which you play using the same method as the guitar and bass. The drums are extra fun because you know that you aren't just laying around pressing buttons. You are gaining arm muscle and building your sense of rhythm. For each of the instruments you have four levels of difficulty. Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. Hard is a nice difficulty for parties, as it is hard to fail and stop everyone else's fun. If you want to get the maximum score and rating however, you'll need to play on expert. The difficulty system isn't perfect though. Hard could be a little easier as the jump up from medium can take quite a while, but otherwise no complaints. Gameplay is solid.
While this is certainly a gameplay oriented game, the graphics are crisp and colorful. The notes have a nice clean look that Guitar Hero notes are missing. The background has a stage with little characters representing each of the players. The camera angles and animations are quite entertaining, but aren't distracting. You can customize the way your character looks in tour mode, but the preset looks and characters look nice if you feel lazy. It does feel like there is a bit too much film grain and the edges on models seem very jaggy, more so than most console games. The animations redeem most of this though, as the vocalist sings along with lips synched quite well, and even the instruments seem accurate to what is being played. They will make sure you aren't bored, even in moments where you aren't playing. Could be better.
This category is unique to the rhythm genre, and this game just cleans up anything else you've seen. There are 84 songs on disk and you can export music from the first Rock Band so you could even start with around 140 songs. There are plenty of hits, from the 60's to today. There are some odd picks however, such as including the second most popular song by a certain artist. Rock'n Me Baby by Steve Miller Band instead of Abracadabra or The Joker, Any Way You Want it by Journey instead of Don't Stop believing, etc. It get's the job done, and you will probably recognize most of the setlist. The only big issue here is Harmonix included some songs from small local bands trying to get them noticed. While a few such as A Jagged Gourgeous Winter and Rob the Prez-O-Dent are nice songs, there is one that is quite infamous. Visions is a heavy thrash metal piece that isn't enjoyable to listen to or play. It is easily one of the most difficult songs on disk and is grueling on drums. What's worse is that in order to complete the main challenge of the game, the Endless Setlist 2 (Where you play every song in the game without breaks. It takes approx. six hours to complete.), you must play it. Aside from this and a few other rotten apples the setlist is amazing and is as fun to listen to as it is to play.
This game isn't the most fun you'll ever have, but with the Music Store and Online play you will be struggling to put it down. Great for parties too.