AC/DC Live: Rock Band • Page 2

Schoolboy error.

So the immediate urge is to dismiss it. For all but the most rock-band-phobic AC/DC-loving gamers (i.e. those who would only want to play AD/DC, ever) this is essentially an album-length Track Pack for twice the price of what you'd pay if it were available as a download. There's nothing of the extra interest that's coming in, say, Guitar Hero: Metallica. It is, to be blunt, a bit of a rip-off.

But there's something that could overwhelm that. It is, to be equally blunt, THE POWER OF ROCK. So, damning objectivity, I looked to the furnace of drunken subjectivity and gathered a group of men of to my North London hole. Women were forced away. Alcohol was drunk. Manly chili consumed. THERE WAS ROCK. Until we got a bit bored and played standard Rock Band 2 instead.

AC/DC, while arguably the definitive Hard Rock Band, have a few problems as singular fodder for a total Rock Band experience. AC/DC's material is about the primacy of the riff. And when the riff is not rampaging across an ancient Savannah with other, lesser riffs grabbed between its teeth, it's transformed into a solo and is soaring into the ether like a pterodactyl made of whirlwinds and fire. Meanwhile the bass is going plod plod plod and the drums are going drum drumity drum. And the singer is dying. You suspect that this would have sat a whole lot better as a pre-World Tour Guitar Hero pack.

As one member of the ROCK PARTY (and a real drummer) who couldn't make it put it, "Surely on anything higher than medium Rock Band's drums are going to be harder than just playing it for real." And while there are some fancy bits - and being a live set there are some long solo sections - he's got a point. It's even worse for the bassist - any lower settings on most of the songs are superhumanly tedious. Like the Ramones, part of AC/DC's joy is that they're pretty damn formulaic - big riff, bloke screeching, bass and drums primarily supporting. Being the latter two isn't much fun - especially across an hour-and-a-half set.

It's possible that there are photographs which convey the meaning of wrong more effectively, but it's not likely.

Conversely, swapping the head-person role puts a lot of responsibility on the guy with the axe. And the singing - well, not many people have lungs for the task which AC/DC sets you, putting aside the issue of familiarity with the material. Singing AC/DC if you know it is hard. Singing it when you don't is just painful. Doubly so, for anyone having to listen to you croak. The live set nature also highlights one of the standard issues with Rock Band - not actually having much of a clue what's awaiting you when you select a song. Some songs are expanded hugely with epic solos and t-t-teasing the crowd. Knowing that this one is a ten-minute one before you start would be a step forward.

While there were glorious moments certainly, the basic monotony gets to you. The immediate response to starting up Rock Band 2, to be welcomed by a snatch of Motorhead was a cry of "Now that's a Rock song!" Even something as prissy as Jimmy Eat World was welcomed like a long lost love. And we went a little early 90s Riot Grrl with Rebel Girl. And, well, mixed it up.

As we drifted into the night, I had a straw poll of what everyone thought AC/DC Live: Rock Band deserved out of ten. Scores varied between three and zero ("It should be made an example of"). I'm going for two. This is only of interest to those who really, really, really need AC/DC now. Even moderate AC/DC fans can afford to wait until it's reduced to a sub 15-quid price (i.e. what it would be as downloads) or when the publisher lobs it on the Rock Band store. In other words, to return to the opening question, how much does it matter if it's this slight? It matters a lot.

That said, if it's reissued with a plastic cannon, automatic ten.

2 /10

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About the author

Kieron Gillen

Kieron Gillen


Kieron is one of the founders of the lovely Rock, Paper, Shotgun and nowadays writes comics for Marvel starring characters that even his mum has heard of.


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