Review: Rock Band: Track Pack Vol. 1 (Nintendo Wii)

Rock Band: Track Pack Vol. 1
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems
Genre: Bemani
Release Date: 7/15/2008

By now, we’ve all at least heard of Rock Band, the game that expanded Harmonix’s Guitar Hero series to drums and vocals at long last. One of the great things about the game (on two thirds of the lineup of next-gen consoles, at least) is the ability to download additional song content and customize your play list. After all, not all of us have any sort of love for Skynyrd tunes.

In lieu of the ability to download, Rock Band has released a sort of amalgamation of this downloadable content in the first Track Pack volume for second-tier systems like the Wii and PS2, retailing at about $30.

So is the set list worth the ticket price?

Read on to find out…

First, of all, the track list:
“¢ 30 Seconds to Mars – The Kill
“¢ All-American Rejects – Move Along
“¢ Blink-182 – All the Small Things
“¢ Boston – More Than a Feeling
“¢ David Bowie – Moonage Daydream
“¢ Faith No More – We Care a Lot
“¢ Grateful Dead – Truckin’
“¢ Hives – Die, All Right!
“¢ Kiss – Calling Dr. Love
“¢ Lynyrd Skynyrd – Gimme Three Steps
“¢ Nine Inch Nails – March of the Pigs
“¢ Oasis – Live Forever
“¢ Paramore – Crushcrushcrush
“¢ The Police – Synchronicity II
“¢ Queens of the Stone Age – Little Sister
“¢ The Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy
“¢ Smashing Pumpkins – Siva
“¢ Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love Song
“¢ Weezer – Buddy Holly
“¢ Wolfmother – Joker & The Thief

I have to say, it’s a fairly diverse list. While a bit short, it does cover all the genres and decades of the full game proper and should have some appeal to a variety of different music fans. That’s the difficulty in releasing these supplemental track packs – the appeal of the download option is customization, and that just isn’t possible on a small hard drive system like the Wii.

The nice thing we noticed when we first threw this on (we being me, my ex-guitar player, and our lady-friends, musicians all) is the increased difficulty from the original song bundles. Easy mode on the first tier songs on this pack was somewhere around medium to hard on the first tier songs from the original disc (I’m looking at you, Weezer.). This is not at all a bad thing. While this disc is playable as a standalone, I’m sure most people would buy it to expand their current playlists – that is, they’ve already played enough to warrant some harder songs.

I bought the expansion mainly for one song – March of the Pigs. I’m a huge NIN fan, and have been since I was a wee little boy scout. It’s the last unlockable song on the playlist, and for good reason. Rock Band reports it to be in a 29/32 time signature, although I guess I always thought it was just in 7/8 back when my old, old, old band covered it… Either way, holy crap is this song hard and fun. I will only play the drums when we do the en masse rocking, and anyone who has heard that drum beat knows what that means. It’s a fantastic capper to the pack, and should be a great challenge to anyone used to the mostly 4/4 songs of the rest of the game…and, you know, all of rock music.

That said – is the title worth the $30 price tag? It’s close…but not quite. At only 20 songs and such a diverse lineup, most people are going to love one or two, hate one or two, and be various shades of indifferent on the rest. Doubling the song list would make this an easy buy. There are 63 on the original game, after all, so 40 doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Short Attention Span Summary
Overall, the pack has a great variety and is a nice upswing in difficulty, but with such a limited list, I’d only call it worth it if you really love a few of the tracks. Oh, and there’s Grateful Dead, for whatever that’s worth.



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