Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the song that will kill your Rock Band drummer:
The Best of the Who pack for Rock Band is available now on Xbox Live and I can say that, after about 40 minutes of play, it’s a complete knock out. Originally intended to be an album release of Who’s Next until half the masters for that album disappeared, the pack morphed into a ‘best of’ with the help of Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend. The result is a mix of songs from Tommy, Who’s Next, It’s Hard, Live at Leeds and more, for a 12 song pack that contains some of the most fun – and challenging – songs in Rock Band yet.
There are some exciting elements in the track pack – audience singalong is back, although I think it’s just on Who’s Next songs. I’d love to see more audience singalongs in DLC, since it gives the song an extra kick – hearing an audience sing ‘Teenage wasteland’ as you tear through Baba O’Riley is amazing.
Last week my father played some Rock Band at a party and fell in love. When I told him that a Who 12 pack was coming, he began wondering about buying an Xbox of his own. That’s why I love the folks at Harmonix so much – they’re not catering to a crowd of Hot Topic patrons or nu-metal lunkheads. They’re trying to make a game that will reach across boundaries to people, like my father, who do not play games.
But make no mistake – many of the songs on the Best of the Who pack are incredibly challenging. Going Mobile, with its very fast chord changes, defeated me on expert guitar. I don’t know how I muscled through Young Man Blues, but I pity the poor drummer in your Rock Band – the Keith Moon antics on that song are unbelievable. I don’t tend to play a lot of drums, but listening to Keith’s iconic drums on the Who’s Next tracks had me doing some air drumming while waiting for the guitar parts to kick in.
The Best of the Who pack also includes the first live tracks released on Rock Band. They’re especially challenging on guitar because of the way that Townsend riffs and jams in the solos; the vocals sound like they might be a challenge as well. I’m excited to give them a shot. But the vibe of the live tracks is right (if the sound is a touch muffled, but that’s Live at Leeds), and I’m hoping to see more live tracks in the future. I’m no Deadhead, but I would kind of dig a freeform Dead spacejam in a future pack… the hammer on/pull off bits in China Cat Sunflower are like my favorite thing in this game so far, and The Best of the Who proves that the live track horizon is wide open.
There’s a war brewing between plastic instrument games, but I think it’s already been won. The breadth and depth of the Best of the Who track pack alone shows that the people at Harmonix care about music, care about creating as much value for their game as possible and care about the players having fun, not mindlessly smashing the fret buttons like they’re playing 1941: Counter Attack. Man, I love this game.