Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Not Quite Numb – Linkin Park Mix Pack Review

Well, this is strange. While there’s no denying the band’s popularity, I admit I’ve fallen a bit off of the Linkin Park bandwagon. I was there for Hybrid Theory, as was everyone else and loved it, and Meteora was groovy. Their fusion of alternative, industrial, rap and rock has always been an easy pill to swallow, and I still believe that no one can do it quite the way they do and have it sound great, with crossover appeal that extends into the ‘tough to crack’ urban community. That having been said, after Meteora, I fell off. I really liked Collision Course though it was an album of mashups, but my complete knowledge of Minutes to Midnight begins and ends with What I’ve Done, and I’ve barely listened to A Thousand Suns. In fact, prior to this pack’s release, I found myself questioning their relevancy to date, and was surprised they were even still making music. Embarassing? Hardly. But their album release this year (and relative popularity spike) likely prompted this pack, arriving casually and unexpectedly in my DJ Hero. With a hint of trepidation,I started to download. But I still found myself asking: “Is this even going to be remotely cool?”

“Who really asked for three Linkin Park remixes?..”

Fortunately, I’ve heard the songs featured in this pack. Should be interesting..

DJ Hero 2 "Linkin Park Mix Pack" (Downloadable Content)
For: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii (Songs sold as individual tracks)
Publisher: Activision/Freestyle Games
Price: 480 Microsoft Points, $5.99 PSN, 300 Wii Points (per track)
Release: 12/21/2010

Reviewed on Expert difficulty

When They Come For Me (Remix by Diplo)

A very cool remix with a middle eastern twang to it, it’s an easy, surprisingly bumpin track that’s as much fun to play as it is to rap using vocals…Really, why can’t more of the hip-hoppish songs flow like this one in vocals? The song has an undeniable rhythm to it, and its one that’s easy to get into and stay in the rhythm of once the song begins. Now, everyone may not like this new, almost reggaeton sounding like mix of the song, but I enjoyed it a great deal, and it really fits in with the style of the game a lot more than it would have in its original direction. It’s a tad on the easy side, but that isn’t an issue with this reviewer. Making it more difficult may have made it more hectic as a mix, and I think the nice mixture of taps (on cue with the drums!), lengthy freestyle sections, and generous crossfades are just tricky enough to keep even vets from turning their brain off for too long.


Pts.OF.Athrty (Remix by FSG)

An oldie, but goodie. Oddly, it’s very similar to the original remix (produced much later), but with a DJ Hero twist in terms of a variety of turntable effects to break up the action. Honestly, the song was already sick. Featuring Mike Shinoda’s commanding lyrical cadence on one end, and Chester belting out the hooks in a way that makes you stand up and take notice in another, it already felt like a hard hitting song to begin with. Now that the track has been augmented with a ton of on-point, rhythmic scratches and long stretches of bass and electric distortion, it has a sound that escalates and elevates above the original. It isn’t even the meatiest song in the world, but FSG took the multiple choruses within and made them so much fun to play, you don’t even notice. Bonus points for bringing me back to Hybrid Theory though, this track literally reminded me why I started liking the band in the first place. Jeez.

Rating: 5/5

The Catalyst (Does It Offend You, Yeah? Remix)

Overly preachy “lol anarchy” lyrics aside, this is The Catalyst with an Electro/DnB twist. Somehow, this makes it sound more like a Daft Punk song than is reasonably comfortable, but it’s still a fun listen, and as far as challenge goes, it’s the most difficult of the three, but that’s hardly a negative. It has a difficulty curve that’s spread evenly and nicely, with long note sustains and strange scratches thrown about, and the low tempo keeps things from being overwhelming until a nutty conclusion that sees fit to have you alternating between tapping and scratching while holding other buttons on the platter. Overall a pretty good mix, but in my opinion, it’s overshadowed by the first two tracks, likely because the tone of the song keeps it from being as fun as the first two, at least in my opinion.

Rating: 3/5

Man, was this pack a wake up call. Not just because it’s Linkin Park on display here, reminding me why I did like them a TON at one point, but because they did it without taking the easy way out and mixing One Step Closer or Numb. Linkin Park was so far off my radar that even a personal recommendation would’ve been met with trepidation, but I took the plunge here and walked away not only surprisingly unscathed, but without a shred of disappointment as well. Really, what took so long for their music to be featured here? Not only did it fit like a glove, but like the Jay-Z vs. Eminem pack before it, it took several tracks thought untouchable and made them work in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I mean, really. This pack singlehandedly made the band relevant to me again! There should've been an achievement for that along with this content, if you ask me.

Score: 8.5

I don’t know what’s coming next, but with 2010 as a reasonable gauge for expectations*, let’s hope the mixes keep on coming, and with even more variety and creativity than what’s already out.

Easy request to fufill, huh?

*Sure, the Old Skool Pack disappointed, but it was still bumpin’..

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