Let’s start off by saying, it’s good… it’s really good. If that’s all the justification you needed to buy it, then off to the store you go, but if you want to know why, then read on.
The game doesn’t do anything groundbreaking new in terms of gameplay, and it doesn’t try to stretch the bounds of your imagination, or even change the way you look at music games, but it does try to give you a very honest and honorable feel for who the Beatles were and what they meant to music. It plays more like an interactive museum at times as it takes you back in time to relive some of their greatest moments. Some of you might be thinking “I don’t like the Beatles, so I don’t care.” Well, you’re wrong. I don’t care about your background, where you came from, or if you’re deaf — you like the Beatles.
If you’ve played a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game before then you know how this works; the only new development is that you can use up to three mics at once, so you and two shitfaced Japanese business men can belt out horribly off-key three-part harmonies together (suck on that, karaoke bar!) In fact, trying to actually pull off those harmonies is by far the hardest part of this game; other than that, I wouldn’t say the overall difficulty is terribly high, which is good, ’cause if you’re old enough to remember when these songs came out, you’re probably also old enough that you’ll suck at the game.
The Beatles: Rock Band starts with the Beatles touring, taking you from playing at the Cavern in ’63 to the Ed Sullivan show to Shea Stadium and finally ending with Budokan. During this period, the game acts very similar to other rock band games, as you witness the band playing in the background and fans screaming their heads off (especially with realism turned on).
But when the Beatles bunk up in Abbey Road, that’s when the game really hits its stride. The songs begin with the fab four gathered around in the studio, but that all changes as each song progresses. You’re treated to some of the most amazing, creative and beautiful visuals I’ve seen to go with the unforgettable music, each song with its own custom and painstakingly well-crafted background dreamscape to accompany it. Seriously, these alone had me staying up to the early hours just to see what the next song had in store.
Playing through the amazing songs conjures up old memories and enough nostalgia to fill the block, it also helps to wash away whatever foul taste was still left behind from that awful Across the Universe movie. Whether you’re new to the music or a loyal fan, you will be impressed with the careful consideration and respect Harmonix and company used to create this game.
There are a few downsides. The Beatles: Rock Band is a standalone game, meaning while Rock Band and its sequel allow you to combine its songs, The Beatles: Rock Band does not. I understand this — it would be odd to see someone as talented as Sir Paul playing one of the horrible Coheed and Cambria songs; hell, I’m not talented and even I was questioning what the hell that girl was crying about — but it still would have been amazing to bring the songs back into Rock Band 2. I also secretly wish I they had the mythical keyboard guitar so I could rock the hell out of the amazing piano solo in “Revolution.” All in all, however, I love the game and feel that Harmonix should be commended for a job well done.
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