The DLC in Rock Band has been both one of my most and least favorite features. While I find the continued inclusion of the occasional cover (rather than the original master track) as well as the pricing for said covers to be irrational and irritating, Harmonix has generally done a pretty smart job of releasing a good variety of songs, and it’s unafraid to explore some odd musical fringes. Perhaps as much as the whole bandaoke thing, Rock Band’s commitment to DLC is key in differentiating it from Guitar Hero.
That said, actually buying songs for Rock Band has been more of an ass-pain than it ought be, and it’s only gotten worse as more songs have been introduced. The Xbox Live Marketplace is good for a lot of things, but it’s terrible for getting much at-a-glance info about the various downloads. This inevitably means that, once you’ve selected a song (or worse yet, a song pack) that you’re interested in, you have to sit and wait for all of the ESRB and legal info to scroll through the tiny text window before you can even find out simple artist info. That it’s more than possible to re-buy individual songs that you’ve already bought in a song pack is infuriating, and kinda shady. I won’t even get into the fact that you have to leave the game entirely to make these purchases.
But all that changes with today’s Rock Band patch, which introduces a new in-game music store that alleviates nearly all of these issues. You can now easily view new releases, individual songs, song packs, and at some point in the hopefully near-future, full albums. By default, it sorts everything by band, though you can also sort by song, song difficulty, genre, or year of release. When you buy a track pack, the individual tracks appear as being purchased as well! Whodathunk! On a personal note, I’m a bit of a maniac when it comes to album art in iTunes, so it does my soul good to see that stuff in here as well.
I feel kind of like a bit of a fool for praising Harmonix for patching in features that probably should’ve been there when I bought the game back in November, and Frownie Frannie that I am, I still have some beef with the implementation. The inability to queue up downloads means that when you’re downloading a sizable song pack (or in the future, downloading full albums) you just have to sit and stare at the progress bar, rather than perusing the other songs on offer, and I feel like the (COMING SOON) next to the full albums menu option is just there to mock me.
Still, this is all good news for Rock Band owners. Now Harmonix can get to work on a patch that allows for an online band world tour, and makes it possible for my drummer to play other instruments! I mean, if Phil Collins and Don Henley can do it, why can’t I?