If you like Rock Band and are a fan of seminal Aussie rockers AC/DC, this add-on is a “must-buy”. The End. This was my initial thought on how I’d expected this review would pan out. But thanks to rock-orientated AC/DC’s additional pop-sensibilities, there is enough here to satisfy even the most casual music fan.
What we have is 18 mostly classic AC/DC songs from a Live in Donnington concert spanning both the Brian Johnston and late Bon Scott eras. Gravel-voiced Brian Johnston is on vocals, and whilst you don’t need to sound like you’ve been gargling battery acid to get a decent score (as long as you’re on the right pitch you’re generally fine) some of the vocal phrases are still very hard to nail.
You can see from the tracklist below that all of the hits are in there, including many of AC/DC’s more mainstream, commercial numbers. A couple of lesser known songs like Heatseeker and Hell Aint A Bad Place To Be could possibly have been replaced with omitted songs that arguably should have been included (like Who Made Who for example), but this is a full AC/DC concert start-to-finish; they play the songs that they want to play.
A number of songs are extended versions of the originals, with crowd sing-a-longs and Big Rock Endings aplenty – several of these BRE’s are ridiculously long and drawn out, but still lots of fun. Many of these extended passages come accompanied by a relentlessly driving drum pattern, and if your stamina isn’t up to it you will suffer, particularly with the quicker songs.
I wound up a Rock Band AC/DC session late one night with the song High Voltage on Hard difficulty playing drums; by the end of it I was grinning from ear-to-ear, short of breath and sweating!
With this add-on you have the option to play songs individually or the whole concert start-to-finish. There is an achievement for playing the whole concert in one sitting, so if you’re not a hardcore AC/DC fan or glutton for punishment this might give you the incentive to try this, although you’ll need to allow in excess of an hour and a half (This concert is 99 minutes long).
There are 250 GamerScore points to be had from this pack, across 12 achievements. Although I got a number of achievements in my first couple of sessions with the game, the “100% notes hit on Expert Difficulty” ones look exceptionally difficult.
A one-time-use code is also included, which enables you to load the tracks to your HDD and play them in Rock Band, thereby removing the need to change discs. The unfortunate part about this feature is that the songs are actually downloaded from Live rather from the game disc itself – a 700mb+ download. Surely this could have been made available as a stand-alone download?
This would have been more cost effective than producing a disc and could possibly be delivered at a discounted price. I understand that the format of this pack is due to AC/DC’s philosophy of creating albums rather than tracks, and a full live concert was a good way to deliver most of the big hits without compromising their principles.
But even though the cost is comparable to single tracks that you can currently purchase from the Marketplace ($50 for 18 songs is about $2.78 per song), a discounted price for a digitally distributed version would have been nice, bearing in mind the inability to choose which tracks you purchase.
Whilst some may bemoan this being a live concert rather than the studio recordings, the very nature of Rock Band is the ‘Live Performance’, and this collection of AC/DC tracks lends itself exceptionally well to the live format. The overall sound quality is excellent, the choice of songs reasonably comprehensive, and minor niggles aside the bottom line is that these songs are a ton of fun to play. When the crowd starts shouting “Fire” towards the end of For Those About To Rock (We Salute You), and the song takes off towards a galloping climax, you”ll know exactly what I mean.
Shoot to Thrill
Back in Black
Hell Aint a Band Place to Be
Fire Your Guns
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
Whole Lotta Rosie
You Shook Me All Night Long
Let There Be Rock
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).