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Preview: AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack

1:24 PM on 11.02.2008 // Samit Sarkar

At the end of September, Wal-Mart unveiled their exclusive AC/DC Rock Band tie-in. Billed as AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack, the standalone videogame features 18 tracks taken from an iconic August 1991 concert at Castle Donington in England. But at $29.88 for the PS2 and $39.88 for the PS3/360/Wii versions, it may be a bit too pricey to sell as well as Harmonix, MTV, EA, and Wal-Mart want it to sell.

Still, for big AC/DC fans like me who have dreamed of playing these songs with a guitar controller, AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack certainly represents a level of wish fulfillment that is rare in videogames. I visited MTV’s offices last week to try out the game; my thoughts on it, and John Drake’s (Harmonix PR) Bon Scott/Brian Johnson impersonations, can be found after the jump.

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The first thing to note about AC/DC Live is that it’s running on the Rock Band 1 engine. In other words, the interface is straight out of Rock Band 1 -- loading screens, menus, etc. -- except for the song selection screen, which is the same one you see in Rock Band 2 and the Rock Band Music Store. That also means that you can’t turn on “No Fail” mode in this game, since that option didn’t exist in the original Rock Band. That’s an important distinction, because AC/DC Live also lacks the usual difficulty curve that you see in all other music/rhythm games: you’re just given the 18 songs from Live at Donington, and most of them are pretty insane, as you’d expect from a live performance by skilled musicians. I mean, it’s not like AC/DC saw this game coming back in 1991 and designed their set list so it got progressively more difficult as the night wore on.

Speaking of live shows, if you’re familiar with them at all, you’ve probably also guessed that this game features a metric fuckton of Big Rock Endings. Of course, in the case of Live at Donington, the endings were actually present in the original performance, as opposed to being inserted by Harmonix to add a fun bit of freestyle rocking to the ends of songs. According to Destructoid’s resident Rock Band maestro, Nick Chester -- who has played through the entirety of the game -- 16 of the 18 songs (88.9%, for you math people) feature Big Rock Endings. So while Wal-Mart advertises “over 99 minutes of game play for each instrument,” a decent amount of that time will be spent wildly flailing on your guitar’s solo buttons or your drum kit’s pads and bass pedal.

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Surprisingly, all you get are the 18 songs to use in Quick Play (no World Tour or Solo Career, but online play and leaderboards are available). Unlike Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, this game features no integration of the band itself -- for example, you won’t see a character model of Angus Young duck-walking across the AC/DC Live stage -- and while GH:A was, admittedly, a full-price game, it seems like you’re not getting forty dollars’ worth of videogame here.

Even if you consider AC/DC Live as a way to incorporate 18 of the band’s songs into your Rock Band library, you’re still paying a premium for the music -- $39.88 ÷ 18 songs = over $2.21 per song -- when usually, you get a discount for buying Rock Band DLC songs that are packaged together. Regarding importation: it’s just as simple as with Rock Band: a single-use code comes with the game, and upon importation, the songs act just like any other DLC -- they’re fully integrated into your Rock Band or Rock Band 2 game experience.

Regardless, I had a ton of fun actually rocking out at MTV with John Drake and other journalists, including N’Gai Croal of Newsweek’s Level Up blog, even though the banged-up guitars weren’t quite working. I was amazed by John, who did very solid vocals on two songs (and others from the Wii version) -- he just kept drinking green tea and said he’d be fine. Props to you, sir.

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AC/DC Live: Rock Band Track Pack comes out today for the PS3, 360, and PS2 (the Wii version will follow on November 16th), and it’s only available at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and their respective Web sites. The only exceptions are AC/DC Rock Band “pop up” stores (like the ones at the MTV Store in New York’s Times Square and Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles). If you like AC/DC, this is a no-brainer purchase.




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Samit Sarkar,
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