The original concept of the Rock Band Song Pack was to make up for the lack of support for downloading new songs in the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions of the game. Rock Band Song Pack 1 contained 20 songs which were already available for Xbox 360 and PS3 owners to purchase and download, giving PS2 and Wii gamers a feasible way to expand their game. Later, the AC/DC Live: Rock Band Song Pack was expanded to include Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, and Rock Band Song Pack 2 is similarly available on all formats. Song Pack 2 contains an eclectic mix of songs, as you would expect from a compilation of this nature. The full track listing appears at the end of this review.
Like previous Song Packs, but unlike most game “expansion” packs, Rock Band Song Pack 2 is a standalone game which does not require Rock Band or Rock Band 2 to play. Obviously you do need to have some form of plastic instrument to play it though – playing on the standard controller ain’t much fun. This unique feature means that Guitar Hero players can purchase this cut-priced title and play the included songs, but Rock Band game owners with broadband have the advantage of being able to import the songs to play in Rock Band or Rock Band 2 if they choose to use the one-time code included with the game (360/PS3 only).
All the songs that feature on the disc are already available to download from Xbox Live or PSN, and at an approximate cost of $2.70 per song, the recommended retail price of $50 for Song Pack 2 represents only a fraction of a discount compared with downloading the songs individually. Therefore those with access to Xbox Live or PSN would be far better off downloading individual songs that they like, rather than purchasing a tracklist that is not up for negotiation. However for those without broadband, or who play Rock Band on Wii or PS2, Song Pack upgrades present fair value if the included songs appeal.
The game menus and gameplay are Rock Band 1 based, as opposed to Rock Band 2, which was a little disappointing but not surprising. This does mean that the welcomed “no fail mode” introduced in Rock Band 2 is not available to ease spooked friends and family into the game. The game can be played in solo or band modes, with the instruments that are now standard – guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Progression through the 20 songs is like the older Guitar Hero games, with 4 “stages” of gradually increasing difficulty being unlocked as you play. However all songs can be played from the outset in “free play” mode – you paid for them after all. Lack of online play rounds up the list of notable feature omissions in this scaled down version of Rock Band.
Song Pack 2 is, well, Rock Band. It is more of the same winning gameplay, but with nothing new to add. Tracks are master recordings, and the audio quality decent. In-game graphics are the same as those in the original Rock Band game. The range of songs is enjoyable, with a wide enough selection to ensure most people find a tune they familiar with. For those keeping score, Song Pack 2 opens up the possibility of an additional 250Gs to boost your Gamerscore (or just the denominator). Most achievements are for attaining “5 stars” in particular songs or for hitting 100% in all songs in Expert using each available instrument.
Owners of Rock Band or Rock Band 2 with access to DLC will need to weigh up for themselves if this purchase represents a bargain or a rip-off. This will depend on individual taste as well as what songs may have already been purchased. For Guitar Hero players, Song Packs are a cheaper way to experience Rock Band and see what all the fuss is about, but do be aware that features have been stripped down, and that the assets for the game are pulled from the earlier iteration rather than the superior sequel.
Rock Band Song Pack 2 Tracklist:
1. Afterlife (by Avenged Sevenfold)
2. Call Me (by Blondie)
3. El Scorcho (by Weezer)
4. Girl U Want (by Devo)
5. Girls Who Play Guitars (by Maximo Park)
6. Indestructible (by Disturbed)
7. It Hurts (by Angels & Airwaves)
8. Just What I Needed (by The Cars)
9. Message in a Bottle (by The Police)
10. Monkey Gone to Heaven (by Pixies)
11. Rio (by by Duran Duran)
12. Saints of Los Angeles (by Motley Crue)
13. Simple Man (by Lynyrd Skynryd)
14. Snow ((Hey On)) (by Red Hot Chili Peppers)
15. The Perfect Drug (by Nine Inch Nails)
16. This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race (by Fall Out Boy)
17. Time is Running Out (by Papa Roach)
18. Why Do You Love Me (by Garbage)
19. You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ (by Judas Priest)
20. Zero (by Smashing Pumpkins)