With the overwhelming success of the Rock Band online music store, I was taken aback when I heard Harmonix announce that AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack would be published as a physical disc. I was even more shocked when I heard that this brand new Rock Band track pack would be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart. The final straw came when they announced that the disc would only feature 18 songs and retail for a whopping $40. By my math that's around $2.22 per song, which is a bit more than what you would pay if they were offered online as downloadable content.
Given all of these problems I fully intended to be disappointed by AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack. After all, I wasn't the biggest supporter of Activision's recent Aerosmith-centric Guitar Hero game, so I worried that this would be more of the same. Fortunately I was wrong. Yes, this is a Rock Band disc made specifically for AC/DC fans; however I found that songs were fun enough for even those with only a passing interest in Australia's top selling heavy metal outfit. Sure the price is a bit steep and it would probably be better suited as downloadable content, but make no mistake about it, AC/DC Live is a spectacular disc that every heavy metal lover should run out and buy.
If you go in expecting AC/DC Live to be a brand new experience, then you are going to be extremely disappointed. This game is exactly what the box says, a track pack. All this disc does is offer you 17 songs not found in either Rock Band or its sequel. Fans of the band already know that this track pack features all of the songs featured in the AC/DC Live at Donington DVD. This concert included some of the band's biggest hits, which is perfect for those looking for a greatest hits album from Angus, Malcolm, Cliff and the rest of the top selling band.
Don't believe me? Try this track list on for size: Thunderstruck, Shoot To Thrill, Back In Black, Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be, Heatseeker, Fire Your Guns, Jailbreak, The Jack, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Moneytalks, Hells Bells, High Voltage, Whole Lotta Rosie, You Shook Me All Night Long, T.N.T., Let There Be Rock, Highway To Hell and For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). In total there's more than 99 minutes of music here, all of which can be played with the guitar, bass, drums or microphone.
The good news is that you don't need to own Rock Band 2 to enjoy AC/DC Live. Heck, you don't even need the original Rock Band. This track pack is a standalone product, which means that all you need is a compatible guitar, drums and microphone. Even better is that when it comes to the Xbox 360 version, both the Rock Band and the Guitar Hero equipment works flawlessly. It is conceivable for AC/DC fans to pick this up without ever worrying about buying any other music game. Then again, you're definitely going to get more out of this game if you already own either Rock Band 1 or 2.
What sets this disc apart from the first Rock Band track pack (released only on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii) is the fact that you can download these songs to your hard drive and incorporate them into all of the modes found in Rock Band 1 and 2. That means that you can use them in your world tour, or when you make a set list in quick play. You can play these songs online against other people without having this specific disc in. In fact, thanks to the game's download code you may never need to put the AC/DC Live disc in your system ever again.
But not so fast, because fans of achievement points will definitely want to give that disc a spin before letting it collect dust on the shelf. Along with 18 fantastic hard rock songs, AC/DC Live comes with 12 brand new achievements, totally a solid 250 points. These achievements are along the same lines as what you had in the previous two Rock Band games, including getting five stars on specific songs, never missing a note while using the drums and beating the game on the hardest difficulty. For the most part these achievements are extremely easy, and some (including one where it wants you to play through all 18 songs in a row) are things you will probably want to do anyway. I never recommend buying a game for achievement points, but the easy points do make keeping the game in your system a little more tempting.
By now you should already know that I'm a Rock Band geek, sometimes it feels like there isn't a day that goes by where I'm not trying to beat the world tour mode or joining my friend's band online. I am in love with Rock Band 2 and have a hunch that I'm going to be putting hundreds (if not thousands) of hours into it before I walk away from the game. Having played so much of Rock Band 2 I have started to take some of the features for granted, forgetting all of the small improvements Harmonix made to the visuals and interface. For whatever reason, AC/DC Live uses the same interface as the first game, which was a little jarring when I first started playing. The basic gameplay is still the same, but it's weird to see the Rock Band 1 display now that I've put so much time into Rock Band 2. Obviously this isn't going to be a big deal when you add the songs to your Rock Band 2 track list, but given that this game came out a good month later, I'm a little surprised that they wouldn't have just used the newer game's interface. Either way this isn't going to take away from the experience.
When it comes to the game's visuals and gameplay, you already know exactly what you're getting. Harmonix hasn't changed the core mechanics in any way, which is probably for the best. You're still going to be staring at note highways and trying to earn overdrive power. You're still trying to earn high scores and beat each song with five stars. The game is exactly what you think it is, it's nothing more than a track pack for Rock Band and Rock Band 2. Because of this you will find that AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack doesn't feature any new single or multiplayer modes. In fact, some of the best modes are taken out of the game, such as the world tour mode or the battle of the bands mode. Obviously those aren't going to be as much fun when you only have 18 songs, but what's their excuse for not allowing me to create my own character?
AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack is exactly what fans of the band have been wanting, it's a no frills collection of 18 amazing songs. I still think that the $40 asking price may be a bit steep, especially considering that the most expensive downloadable song in the music store is no more than $2. Still, it's nice to see such a great collection of hard rock songs come to Rock Band, even if it's in a weird disc-based Wal-Mart exclusive package. Thankfully the game's sound and quality note charting wins the day, making AC/DC Live a must own for anybody who considers themselves a fan of this seminal Australian rock band.
To paraphrase AC/DC: Let there be sound. There was sound. Let there be guitar. There was guitar. Let there be drums. There were drums. Let there be a $40 AC/DC track pack sold exclusively at Wal-Mart. There was a great disc that every AC/DC fan should buy. Let there be rock!