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Rock Band Country Track Pack 2 Review (Xbox 360)

Game Review: Rock Band Country Track Pack 2
Release: 2/1/11
Genre: Music
Developer: Harmonix
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Players: 1-4
MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Lyrics, Suggestive Themes)
Website: http://www.rockband.com/games/trackpacks#tp5

The traditional method of reviewing games isn’t going to work here.  I could tell you that the game can be played off the disc with no other Rock Band game required (but it plays on the Rock Band 1 engine – ouch), that it has 200 achievement points up for grabs, that the Stage Kit works with it, or that it has drums, guitar, bass and vocal parts.  I could describe how Rock Band works, tell you my impressions of the gameplay, and rate the music and sound.  But I’m not reviewing Rock Band – if you want that review, there are plenty of other offerings out there for it.  You want to know whether 21 country songs are worth your time, money, and energy.  The best way to review a genre specific track pack is to give you a quick snapshot of my musical tastes, see if they align with yours, and tell you what I think of the music.

I consider myself fairly tolerant of all styles of music, and my Zune encompasses every genre of music from classical to metal, new age to punk, rock to rap. Country music is the one genre I usually don’t go out of my way to pick up.  I don’t know if it’s the twang sounds, the repetitive hooks, or the songs about trucks and dogs and beer and America, but I never really found myself drawn to the genre as a whole.  I don’t mind a few songs, but generally I steer clear.  So when offered a chance to review this, I saw it as an opportunity to add 21 songs to my list, appease some of the country song fans at the bar I do Rock Band happy hour at, and that’s it.

Boy was I surprised.

Looking over the list of artists and songs, most people will probably only know one or two songs (For me, it was Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash and Kiss a Girl by Keith Urban).  Some artists may seem familiar, but you wouldn’t be overly impressed by the track list just by looking at it if you weren’t that into Country.  You might even dismiss the pack as a whole, figuring your time is better spent elsewhere (as I was inclined to do when I first read about the game).  You might want to think again; I was continually impressed as I played through the game with the quality of the songs, how approachable everything was, and how much fun I was having.   And I wasn’t even drinking (that much)!

What I will do with this review is give my impressions on each song, as well as my thoughts having played through the game on Expert drums and (mostly) Hard guitar.  But before I get to that, for those that will be playing this game off of the disc, a few notes:  You’re playing on the Rock Band 1 engine, which if you’ve seen Rock Band 3, will immediately make you realize how far this game has come in just 2 iterations (and then wish this game was in the RB3 engine) .  The Stage Kit works (my RB3 disc was being repaired, so I couldn’t test it in there, but with the recent “unofficial” support for the Stage Kit being reenabled in RB3, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work), but that’s about it.  There’s no character customization, no band customization.. you don’t even get to listen to a song on the main menu, just people cheering.

Clearly this game was meant to be exported into your existing Rock Band collection, so I won’t waste anymore space here talking about anything else other than the songs. What follows are my notes on each of the songs; they might not always be complete thoughts, but you should get a feel for what you’ll be getting into with each song. I played each song once on the instrument listed, and any notes you see on scores is based on a sight-read. I’ll also list the difficulty, and any other items of note, along with my rating of the song (10 point scale). I may butcher the musical elements I describe, but hopefully you get the idea:

Song / Artist: Single White Female / Chely Wright
Difficulty: Band: 1 Star || Guitar: 2 Stars || Drum: 1 Star || Vocals: 2 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: Fun song, good chorus, has a rock/popish feel with twang. Would play again. 7/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Decent, if basic, playthrough – no major challenges.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Good solo with a basic rhythm throughout the song; some Hammer On/Pull Off (HO/PO) work in the song.

Song / Artist: TWANG / George Strait
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 3 Stars || Drum: 1 Star || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 2 Stars
Song Impressions: Typical country feel, swingish beat, but not terrible. Wouldn’t mind playing it, but wouldn’t pick unless asked. 5/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Repetitive triple swing snare with a bass kick 4th. Fair song. (Gold starred)
Hard Guitar Impressions: 2 good solos with good finger movement along the fretboard. Fun.

Song / Artist: Man Of Me / Gary Allan
Difficulty: Band: 1 Star || Guitar: 3 Stars || Drum: 1 Star || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: Fun, good song. Has a good, driving beat with good chorus. Big Rock Ending. Would play again. 8/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Good basic beat with some simple drum rolls. (100%, Gold Starred)
Expert Guitar Impressions: Some HO/PO, not too difficult, fun playthrough

Song / Artist: Party for Two (with Billy Currington) / Shania Twain
Difficulty: Band: 1 Star || Guitar: 1 Star || Drum: 1 Star || Vocals: 5 Stars || Bass: 0 Stars
Song Impressions: There’s better Shania Twain songs; this one is OK. Wouldn’t mind playing it, but not unless asked. 4/10.
Expert Drum Impressions: Basic, decent with no surprises (100%, Gold Starred)
Hard Guitar Impressions: Walkie guitar part with chords thrown in, decent variety between the two

Song / Artist: Kiss A Girl / Keith Urban
Difficulty: Band: 1 Star || Guitar: 2 Stars || Drum: 1 Star || Vocals: 4 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: One of the two songs non-country folks may recognize, decent song. Would play again. 7/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Some good variety on the bass pedal kicks, and a relatively fun drum song.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Pretty easy, the solo is OK. Relatively simple finger movements throughout.

Song / Artist: Backwoods / Justin Moore
Difficulty: Band: 1 Star || Guitar: 1 Star || Drum: 2 Stars || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 3 Stars
Song Impressions: Funky and fun, with a Big Rock Ending. Head-bobbin’ kind of beat. Would play again. 7/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Basic beats, no surprises. (Gold Starred)
Hard Guitar Impressions: Basic riffs with a fun solo thrown in.

Song / Artist: Sideways / Dierks Bentley
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 3 Stars || Drum: 2 Stars || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: Great song, one of the nice surprises in the pack. Would actively pick this song. 9/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Excellent variety, and a lot of fun to play. You’ll be into it. (Gold Starred)
Hard Guitar Impressions: Fun song with a good solo. Not too tough, so you can enjoy the song.

Song / Artist: Settlin’ / Sugarland
Difficulty: Band: 1 Star || Guitar: 1 Star || Drum: 2 Stars || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: Fun, good song. Rock/country feel. Would play again. 7/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Great kicks and hand movement – fun to play. (Gold Starred)
Hard Guitar Impressions: Mostly chords with almost no HO/PO. Includes a solo, but is kind of slow overall.

Song / Artist: That’s How Country Boys Roll / Billy Currington
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 3 Stars || Drum: 2 Stars || Vocals: 2 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: Typical country feel, it is a decent tune, if not a little basic. Would play it again, if asked. 6/10.
Expert Drum Impressions: Fun chart with a basic beat and some minor drum rolls (Gold Starred)
Hard Guitar Impressions: Good chart with a good solo and good hand movement.

Song / Artist: Crazy Town / Jason Aldean
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 3 Stars || Drum: 2 Stars || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: Good fun, with a great country twang feel. Another head-bobber. Would play again. 7/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Lots of double-bass kicks, but pretty basic otherwise. (100%, Gold Starred)
Hard Guitar Impressions: It’s fun, with a good solo, and not too tough.

Song / Artist: Mama Tried / Merle Haggard
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 4 Stars || Drum: 2 Stars || Vocals: 2 Stars || Bass: 0 Stars
Song Impressions: Short, with a decent sound, but mostly forgettable. Wouldn’t actively seek to play the song again. 5/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Has a tricky two-step feel that will throw you off at first. Once figured out, the song is fun and simple.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Lots of HO/PO, good hand movement around the guitar.

Song / Artist: Giddy On Up / Laura Bell Bundy
Difficulty: Band: 3 Stars || Guitar: 5 Stars || Drum: 2 Stars || Vocals: 4 Stars || Bass: 2 Stars
Song Impressions: Bouncy song, with a decent chorus. Would play again if asked. 6/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Standard beat with a few interesting beats mixed in from time to time.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Moves around the fretboard, and you end up playing a few different instruments (Fiddle, banjo, lead guitar). Lots of note picking, not many chords. Easier than expected.

Song / Artist: Intentional Heartache / Dwight Yoakam
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 4 Stars || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 2 Stars || Bass: 0 Stars
Song Impressions: Your traditional country, honky-tonk style song. Good Stage Kit lights at the end. Big Rock Ending. Would play again if asked. 6/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Quarter kick notes, it’s OK, but gets fun at the end.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Fun run, with a lot of finger work.

Song / Artist: The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia / Reba McEntire
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 1 Star || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 4 Stars
Song Impressions: Country ballad, it’s slow, plodding, and just.. ok. Wouldn’t seek it out to play again. 4/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Varied beats, it’s not a bad play. You’ll be riding the blue pad a lot.
Expert Guitar Impressions: Lots of HO/PO – but otherwise a pretty basic song.

Song / Artist: Alright / Darius Rucker
Difficulty: Band: 1 Star || Guitar: 1 Star || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 2 Stars || Bass: 2 Stars
Song Impressions: Slower song, but good beat and overall good tune. Fun to play. Would play again. 7/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Lots of lag or delay beats (off notes). It’s fun, but you’ll need to apply the brain.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Fun song, with some HO/PO. Good chord progression feels natural when playing.

Song / Artist: Perfect Day / Lady Antebellum
Difficulty: Band: 3 Stars || Guitar: 5 Stars || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 2 Stars || Bass: 3 Stars
Song Impressions: Fun, light song with a good rhythm. You will enjoy it. Would actively play it again. 9/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Very fun chart, with a challenging chorus (I got lucky and caught the beat right away, but looking back, it will probably trip folks up).
Hard Guitar Impressions: Good song, with lots of HO/PO. Fast and fun.

Song / Artist: Rain Is a Good Thing / Luke Bryan
Difficulty: Band: 3 Stars || Guitar: 4 Stars || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: If I had a lot to drink, and was with a lot of other people who were also drunk, this song might be fun. Absurd lyrics makes this your typical country fare (Rain makes corn / Corn makes Whiskey / Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky). Wouldn’t play it again (unless with previously mentioned drunk friends). 3/10.
Expert Drum Impressions: Some tricky triple beats early on. Get through the intro and you should be home free.
Hard Guitar Impressions: The guitar part salvages what is an otherwise awful song. Fun to play.

Song / Artist: Summer Nights / Rascal Flatts
Difficulty: Band: 2 Stars || Guitar: 3 Stars || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 5 Stars || Bass: 4 Stars
Song Impressions: Fun, upbeat song with a good chorus. Good rock-country. Would actively play again. 8/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Good basic beat, with some double snare hits mixed in, and varied kicks. Fun.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Great solos, good rhythm, and not too tough.

Song / Artist: Ride / Trace Adkins
Difficulty: Band: 3 Stars || Guitar: 3 Stars || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 4 Stars || Bass: 3 Stars
Song Impressions: Some rockin’ country! It’s a fun song, even if the chorus and song overall is fair. Would play again. 7/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Tough beats and rolls, this was the first song I felt challenged on. Ending is tough, and your right hand will WORK!
Hard Guitar Impressions: Good solos, this song is fast and fun on guitar.
Hard Bass Impressions: Achievement song, it has good movement, and isn’t too terribly tough.

Song / Artist: Awful Beautiful Life / Darryl Worley
Difficulty: Band: 3 Stars || Guitar: 4 Stars || Drum: 3 Stars || Vocals: 3 Stars || Bass: 1 Star
Song Impressions: Not a bad song, heavy on the twang. A decent romp. Would play again if asked. 6/10
Expert Drum Impressions: Tricky right hand beats, with a steady quarter note kick that will help you keep time. Several beat changes in the song.
Hard Guitar Impressions: Ending solo is tough. Otherwise there’s good variety in the song, with good, tricky rhythms.

Song / Artist: Ring Of Fire / Johnny Cash
Difficulty: Band: 3 Stars || Guitar: 1 Star || Drum: 4 Stars || Vocals: 2 Stars || Bass: 0 Stars
Song Impressions: Easily the most recognizable song in the pack. You know going in whether you love or hate it. Would actively play it again. 9/10
Expert Drum Impressions: I’ll be honest, I never did get the rhythm down. You have what I call a bracket beat (pattern looks like a ]), and I only got through by ignoring some of the yellow hits, and sticking with a basic quarter rock beat for most of the song. Kicks are a mix between quarters and triples. It’s probably not as difficult as I made it, but on a sight-read, it was tricky.
Expert Guitar Impressions: You’ll end up playing the horns sections for parts of this song. Otherwise it’s a repetitive walkie song. You’re playing this for the vocals, right?
Expert Vocal Impressions: REALLY listen to this vocal track before singing it, there are variances that will trip you up if you try to go on what you remember this song as being.

vttym’s take: Is 21 songs worth your $30?  I was very impressed with the selection and, with the exception of a few duds, this track pack would make a good addition to anyone’s playlist. The selection was clearly designed to attract players of all tastes, so you have a series of fun songs that are easy to approach, and just the right length (no song ever felt like it was dragging on; I’d be surprised if any song was over 4:30).  I did not expect to have this much fun playing country, and am glad to have these songs in my playlist.  Just make sure you don’t plan on playing the game off the disc; export it (for free with a code included with the game) to your preferred Rock Band experience and enjoy gettin’ yer country on!

+ Good balance of female and male vocal parts
+ Excellent song selection for country and non-country fans alike
+ Songs are a good length; not too long, not too short
+/- Songs aren’t too difficult which makes it easily approachable, but might turn off hardcores looking for challenges
– Playing off the disc means playing on the Rock Band 1 Engine

Final Score: 8/10


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  • Best review ever read, thoughtful and open mined. That’s the way it should be. I am a 37 yr black guy who likes rock music, and on occaacion will listen to country music. I was on the fense with this title until I ran into this review. Ever song critiqued and analyzed for it individual content, and not just country music as a whole. I will goout and by, and thank you for a thought full and fair review.

    Matthias Talley
    SB, CA

  • Matthias – thanks for the kind words; glad it helped you out, and I hope you enjoy it.