After all is said and done, The Beatles are ultimately the most influential band in the history of music. Literally every musician is influenced by them in some small way, so it’s only fitting that they receive their own edition of Rock Band. The popular music game franchise that introduced drum and singing elements to the already successful Guitar Hero formula has added a new installment based on the career and music of The Fab Four.
I love Rock Band, and I love The Beatles. Predictably I got ahold of the game as soon as I possibly could. I’ve been basking in Beatles glory for about nine days now and trust me it is amazing.
Most gamers are familiar with the Rock Band gameplay elements used in the first two releases, but for those of you who aren’t, I’ll give a quick rundown. Players can choose from 3 types of instruments; guitar/bass, drums, or vocals. Players who choose guitar or drums will have to use instrument controllers to press buttons simulating the notes being played in a song. Singers will have to match pitch with the vocals using a microphone peripheral. If you miss too many notes or phrases while singing, you will fail the song.
The Rock Band formula has already been tested and proven as a fun game for lone wolves, and an even better value for those who play in groups often. The more people you can convince to be in your band, the better. The Beatles: Rock Band takes it one step further, boosting the max number of players from four to six by implementing three-piece harmonies for vocalists. This requires that you have three separate microphones but if you already have them on hand it’s well worth trying.
Aside from the inclusion of three-piece harmonies the game leaves previous gameplay elements relatively unchanged. Drum fill sections have been removed, and using the whammy bar no longer alters the pitch of sustained notes (although it can still be used to obtain more Overdrive).
The song selection in The Beatles: Rock Band is not surprisingly comprised entirely of Beatles songs. The catalog spans their entire career, starting with their early radio hits to their psychedelic songs about walruses and such. The disc includes 45 songs, but also includes support for downloadable content. Content used in Rock Band and Rock Band 2 is not compatible with The Beatles: Rock Band. Three full album downloads are already available.
If you’re a hardcore Rock Band/Guitar Hero fan who loves shredding solos and ungodly riff action, you might be slightly left out by the generally laid back tone of this game. The Beatles were incredible musicians, but no one ever said that their music was difficult. Songs are for the most part very simple, but at the same time fun. Most songs provide a healthy challenge for casual fans, however.
Game modes are pretty standard. You have a quickplay mode (where you can play 44 of the 45 tracks right from the start), a career mode (following the career of the band from 1962-1969), and competitive play. A good array of unlockables are also present, including photos, extra instrument icons, and an unreleased Beatles Christmas album. There’s a lot of good content here, and just about what you would expect from a Rock Band title.
For the price tag ($59.99) 45 songs can seem like a bit of a rip off. Similarly priced games like Guitar Hero 5 include over 80 songs. On paper that seems about right, but when you think about the fact that almost every single song is a masterpiece in its own right the numbers don’t seem to matter so much.
Technically speaking, the game’s graphics are nothing to scoff at. The art style is absolutely perfect for the music and the digital recreations of the members of the group are spot on. Small details such as the somewhat sad look of Ringo Starr and the expressionism of Paul McCartney’s eyebrows are particularly impressive.
The music sounds utterly amazing, thanks to contributions from George Martin (producer of nearly every major Beatles album) and his son. Together they managed to obtain master tracks for Harmonix and prep them for use in a Rock Band game. Sound quality is unbelievably authentic thanks to the use of actual studio conversations and real crowd recordings from live Beatles performances.
The sheer amount of detail and simplistic fun factor that is packed into The Beatles: Rock Band comes once in a great while. The songs are amazing, the gameplay fun, and the message simple. The Beatles: Rock Band is a must have for any Beatles fan, or anyone who loves Rock Band.
- Amazing song list
- Excruciating detail
- Wonderfully fun gameplay
- Three-piece harmony adds to group fun
- Somewhat easy for veteran players
- Smaller song list than other rhythm titles
Score: 9.1/10 (Outstanding)
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10