The Beatles: Rock Band Review

By on September 21, 2009

All Together Now.


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First Impressions
My reaction is

“I want you to listen to something son. This is some of the greatest music ever written and something I want you to listen to and experience just like I did. They’re called The Beatles.”

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With that, my father slapped on Abbey Road, my ears were exposed to “Come Together”, and I became a Beatles fan. Why do I bring this up? Because your love of the Fab Four will factor heavily into your enjoyment of The Beatles: Rock Band, and even if you are only slightly familiar with them, the game can still entertain and bring everyone together.

The Beatles: Rock Band doesn’t break any molds that Rock Band proper has created since its inception. Note gems still fall down the board and you must match them using your appropriate instrument or sing in tune with the music. What The Beatles: Rock Band does do though, is refine, add, and expand on the concept of Rock Band, while providing music that bridges the gap between all age groups.

New to this addition is the ability to sing in harmonies. The Beatles never had a true lead singer, and only a few songs feature one of them singing. To bring this effect into the game, up to three people can sing together on certain tunes. This works by connecting up to three microphones or using headsets that connect into the respective instruments. The game then treats these as one “player”, displaying a blue line for the lead and a orange/brown line for the other two parts. Only the lead must sing to avoid failing the song, but if the other two players join in, extra points are given, leading to “Double Fab” or “Triple Fab” score bonuses. This feature brings the familiar feeling of co-op play into a new space, producing a fun and magical feeling when you and two other buddies belt our the chorus to “Yellow Submarine” together. It brings the “band” nature of Rock Band to life in new ways.

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Rock Band has also put on a show behind your musical tracks as your virtual avatars danced and performed for the audience. Since The Beatles only performed four times in front of a crowd, it’s difficult to produce this same effect. What Harmonix has done instead is construct Dreamscapes for the songs. These trippy and beautiful scenes accompany the music in interesting and enlightening ways, such as the group traveling in a yellow submarine or a chaotic scene during “Helter Skelter”. The scenes always start in Abbey Road Studio 2, then slowly evolve until you are surrounded by both them and the music. They communicate The Beatles extremely well and are just amazing to watch for players and bystanders.

The game also refines the Rock Band experience. No Fail Mode and Lefty Mode is turned on with a push of a button at the instrument screen instead of having to tread through menus and the difficulty is displayed for each instrument so players can have an idea of how intense their part is. Menus have been cleaned but and combined, making for a smoother experience that makes it easy for new players to get into and a breeze to navigate at parties.

Harmonix could have stopped there, but they have compiled a digital museum of extras and hidden content for Beatlemaniacs the world over. Photos, rare recordings, and videos are all packed in with the 45+ song playlist. Every time you 3 or 5 star a song, you get photos which show The Beatles recording, press photos, album covers, or just them goofing around. These photos then unlock rare video clips and recordings such as them getting ready for their Shea Stadium concert, interviews, or the Christmas album they sent out to fan club members. It’s a wonderful insight into the band and a virtual treasure trove for hardcore fans.

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In The End, The Beatles: Rock Band is a truly amazing game, visually and content wise. The Dreamscapes that accompany the songs are marvels that go well with the music and are amazing to watch on their own. The extras will satisfy every Beatle fan out there, while helping newcomers to their music a better understanding of them and hopefully draw them in more. It’s a digital love letter to one of the greatest bands to ever exist and a very fun music game.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
8.5
The Rock Band formula doesn't change here, but is still just as fun.
GRAPHICS
9
The character models and Dreamscapes are beautifully rendered.
SOUND
10
The music is crisp and sounds brand new.
VALUE
8.5
There is a lot of extra content and challenges to complete, but is dependent on your love of the music.
FUN FACTOR
9
Singing harmonies together brings a whole new element to Rock Band that is plain fun.
OVERALL
9
A truly great music game for Beatles fans

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