Game Review – The Beatles: Rock Band

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Harmonix, EA, and MTV Games decided to skip an annual iteration of their Rock Band franchise this year, instead concentrating on a game focused on the most successful band in history.

Is this just a song pack for Rock Band 2, or maybe something more…

Find out after the break.

When I first heard the announcement for The Beatles: Rock Band, I was more than a little worried.

I thought it could potentially be a grab for some quick cash, another release of Rock Band with a thin coat of Beatles paint.

From the opening cinematic on, I was constantly surprised and pleased with the amount of detail, care, and vision that was afforded the license.

Harmonix are obviously Beatles fans, and it shows in every frame of the title.

Rather than recreating a few famous venues, using canned animations for each performance, and calling it a day, the developers took the time to create individual animations for each song.

This creates a landscape of ‘music videos’ from start to finish that is BY ITSELF worth the price of the game.

If they wanted to make some extra money, I know I’d buy a Bluray with all the animations from every song, with the game interface removed… just sayin’.

The gameplay itself isn’t that far removed from other rhythm titles, but there have been some notable additions.

Three-part vocal harmonies are available on many songs, more of them have two part vocals, and only a handful have a single vocal track. This means you can connect up to three microphones to your console, and using a single controller, each player can take a different vocal harmony.

Compare this with Guitar Hero 5’s multiple mic setup, which requires not only a mic for each player, but a separate controller, and each player singing identical melodies… it can’t come close to matching the depth of play available for singers in TB:RB.

This setup also allows for up to 6 players on a song.

Very nice indeed.

Three-Part Vocal Harmonies In Action

Another addition to standard RB play is the Trophy/Achievement system. Many Trophies and Achievements come from accomplishing goals across multiple (but specific) songs. From within the game, you can check your progress at any time.

One thing I noticed while playing: the difficulty curve for this title is VERY gentle. Rarely are any of the songs painfully difficult, even on the Expert setting, and most songs are just plain FUN on any difficulty… especially if you play guitar and sing at the same time.

Bottom Line: If you’re used to playing ‘Through The Fire And Flames’ as a warmup, these songs aren’t going to challenge you.

Ultimately, the measure of any rhythm game is it’s song list, and The Beatles: Rock Band delivers easily. I mean, seriously… it’s the friggin’ BEATLES. Everyone likes The Beatles, or is at least reasonably familiar with their music. Spanning the entire career of the group, songs are spread equally from their days at The Cavern, all the way to their final rooftop performance atop the Apple Corps building.

As you progress through the game, photos, videos, and trivia are unlocked. This is a Beatles fan’s wet dream.

beatlesratingBy the time I finished Story Mode, I found myself wanting more. There are so many great tracks from this band, that a complete game would be enormous. I realize they had to draw the line somewhere. A full play through of Story Mode will only take about 4.5 hours, but the game is extremely replayable, and the announced list of downloadable content is impressive.

The Beatles: Rock Band is less a rhythm game, and more of an experience.

Fans of the band will want to pick it up, even if they don’t normally play video games. They can put that Wii that’s gathering dust on the shelf to some good use.

If you’re a casual rhythm game player, mostly at parties… you’re going to want to buy it as well. With up to six simultaneous players, and a track list that EVERYONE is familiar with, it makes for a great social game.

In fact, I think the only group of gamers that might NOT want to pick up the game are uber-hardcore rhythm game junkies that also despise The Beatles… and fun… and puppies.

Seriously, if they don’t like The Beatles, there’s no helping them.

Buy The Beatles: Rock Band (Available 9-9-09)


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1 thought on “Game Review – The Beatles: Rock Band

  1. How can anyone not like their music? Their songs will be played 500 years from now. It is almost impossible to write songs like they did and the amount of them…. I just saw the video the other day for Penny Lane. Sgt. Pepper is my favorite album.

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