* Awarded 'Best Music/Party Game' 2009
If you’re like us, a little cautious to jump on The Beatles: Rock Band bandwagon, you need to let down your guard and pick up this ticket to the Magical Mystery Tour. Harmonix and MTV Games has done a service to all music lovers by translating the music from one of the worlds greatest musical acts into game form. So hand me your ticket, plug in those guitars, and get ready to rock with the fab four.
Harmonix and MTV Games has hooked up the deal of the century by penning the rights to make a Beatles videogame. Using the Rock Band formula, The Beatles: Rock Band is born, and for anyone who has ever sung along with a Beatles song in the past, you will love what they have created. The Beatles are one of the world’s greatest musical acts, so it’s no surprise that the game has received so much attention, however along side the greatness of the Beatles music is an excellent gaming tribute that does the band justice.
A Little Help From My Friends
The Rock Band series might be playing catch up to the Guitar Hero band specific games, but they have done so with a splash. Not only did Harmonix create a moody and interesting look into its feature band, it’s the freaking Beatles! Better yet, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr along with input from George Harrison’s Son and son of long time producer George Martin has given their stamp of approval to Harmonix and helped them with more than inspiration. With their help a number of the Beatles songs where taken from high-quality versions that provide the best audio-samples of the Beatles you’re going to hear. In terms of quality, the music in the Beatles: Rock Band sounds outstanding, and as good, as or better than I have ever heard.
Harmonix does Harmonies
This tribute to the Beatles was built ground up and even though it plays like a Rock Band game its not identical. The main difference from the normal Rock Band game and this version is the added function of vocal harmony. Since harmony played a big part in the Beatles music, this had to be recreated within the game, so now you can hook up three microphones and try and hit the magic sweet spot that is the Beatles trademark harmonies. The best part about recreating the harmonies is that you don’t have to set up microphone stands and do it exactly like the Beatles. Playing some of the songs can be hard enough, and then you have singing! Up to six instruments can be added letting someone else take care of the vocals while another group rips down the music. Even though some might call it cheating, The Beatles: Rock Band is a great game for parties and having six controllers’ helps brings more people into the action.
Looking the Part
There are two versions of The Beatles: Rock Band, the normal one and the one that ships with new “Beatles” inspired peripherals. The instruments are modeled after the ones the Beatles favoured in over the years including a Rickenbacker guitar, Hofner bass and a Beatles skinned drum kit. This “Limited Edition” bundle plays the same the normal instruments, so it’s not a necessity. Having the instruments only makes you feel a little more like the Beatles, and for those interested you can pick up the instruments separately. Like previous Rock Band games you can also use the Guitar Hero set of peripherals if you wish.
From the White Album to Help, 45 songs can be mastered and jammed along with. This is only a small slice of the Beatles music considering they have more than 300 recorded songs. The 45 that have been picked represent some of their biggest hits like “A Hard Day’s Night”, “Come Together”, “Twist and Shout” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, then you have some lesser known songs to the average non-Beatle fanatic like “Dig a Pony”, “Boys”, “I Me Mine”, and “Hey Bulldog”. The selection might be a little weak given the amount of songs in other music games. The Beatles: Rock Band seems a little skimpy and some of their other hits like “Let it be”, “Yesterday”, “Lady Madonna” are not included.
Cause, I'm The Taxman
Even though the Beatles rock and this could be the best band specific music game ever made, and the line-up of songs is fairly solid, Harmonix puts a little bit of a downer on the concept by not having the two games, Rock Band and The Beatles: Rock Band be compatible. Unfortunately you won’t be able to rock out with these songs on your normal version of Rock Band 2 which is a little disappointing. What else is disappointing is that that the new DLC that is out for the game, and still planned to be released has to be purchased. In a personal grip with state of downloadable content; I believe it should be free for gamers who already own the Beatles: Rock Band, and not free for owners of the normal game. Since the game isn’t cross-compatible with Rock Band 2 it would be easy to separate the two. Now that would be some fan service.
The Long and Winding Road
The main mode you’ll want to jump right into is the games “Story” mode which follows the Beatles career in linear fashion through the Beatles history. This takes you across a number of venues that the Beatles have performed in from the Cavern Club all the way up the last performance in concert during the Rooftop Concert filmed as the documentary “Let It Be” (1970). This shows the musical rise to fame along with the versatility of their music and how it evolved over the years. In a musical sense the Beatles really grew over the years and if you haven’t been a huge Beatles fan until you played the game you might just find more respect for their musical ability.
Here Comes The Sun
Through the story and each location you’ll be treated some impressive visuals that match up perfectly with the audio. The animation is well done and the colours can really be vibrant and interesting. The psychedelic period is visually intense to watch and worth putting the controller down and letting someone take a crack at the songs so you can enjoy this visual treat. During the story you can also unlock photos for your performance in every song. These pictures no only give you a deeper look into the bands history with photos they also share facts about the photos like how they made a part of a song in a frequency that only dogs can hear. The Beatles are more than three chords and pretty vocals, there is some depth in their music and unlocking all the extra photos and footage will help you see this.
Don't Let Me Down
Aside from the story mode you can also go into the game through a single player perspective or co-op in its Quickplay option or play two-on-two in the competitive mode “Tug of War” and “Score Duel” both of these modes are fun and nothing beats some friendly competition. There is also a training mode for gamers to get used to the harmonies in the game called “Beatle Beats”.
Do You Want to Know a Secret
After you wiz through the entire career mode the achievements/trophies will likely keep you busy for a lot longer. Interesting enough their is even a reward for finishing the game in under 24hrs. The other achievements include easier ones like “A Little Help From My Friends” – Start a story with a four player band, or “Doing the Best that You can” – Complete all the Drum Lessons; to harder ones like “Are You Gonna Be in my Dreams?” – Hit 10% of the notes in the solo for “The End” on Expert Drums, or “Won’t You Come out and Play” – Playing Dear Prudence on Expert Guitar without strumming... that means a whole lotta hammer-ons and pull-offs. Harmonix did a good job balancing the game in this area making it challenging enough for the more experienced gamer, or the beginner.
The Beatles: Rock Band is a must have game for Beatles fans. Harmonix has done an excellent job putting together a fun package that highlights the career of one of the most successful bands in our history. Unlike the normal Rock Band series, The Beatles focuses on vocal harmonies while providing a backdrop that everyone knows, and most people like. This makes The Beatles: Rock Band a great game to have included in those Rock Band parties, and additionally one of those games that can be revisited over-and-over. The only downside to The Beatles game is the lack of music that is showcased. Since the Beatles have such a huge library, 45 songs seems a little low, plus the DLC that is available, is only available for a price. If you don’t mind shelling out a few more bucks then your Beatles library will certainly expand. Minor grip aside, you can’t really go wrong here, and the Beatles: Rock Band is one of the outstanding music games of the year.
Gameplay:9.5, Graphics:9.0, Sound:10, Innovation:8.0, Mojo:9.5 Final: 9.2 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.02.09