BUY IT FROM AMAZON: RIGHT HERE!
PLATFORM: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC
ESRB RATING: T (Seriously, for “mild lyrics”!)
DEVELOPER:
Harmonix
PUBLISHER: EA

There
are two kinds of people in this world- those who love The Beatles, and
those whose parents just didn’t raise them right. There have also been
reports of individuals out there who simply don’t like the band, but
clearly any “person” with such a lack of taste could hardly be
considered human.

Likewise, there are people who have realized the beauty of Rock Band
and the fun of playing the game with a group, and there are those who
stay away from it because of their own bizarre prejudices and
misconceptions. The game’s simply the best party game around. Might it
be glorified karaoke? Possibly, but in this day of ipods what could be
bad about a game that gets people together to enjoy music?

The Beatles: Rock Band
ends up being everything you could ever want in a Beatles game. It’s
got stuff for everyone from the most casual of Beatles fans to the most
hardcore Rock Band enthusiasts. And it just so happens to be a loving, beautiful note to one of the greatest bands of all time.
 
THE PITCH
 
Ever since music games started getting popular in the States thanks to Harmonix and Guitar Hero (Frequency and Amplitude,
while incredible, weren’t exactly system sellers), The Beatles was the
white whale. The folks at Harmonix met up with Dhani Harrison (George’s
son) one day and found out that he was a huge fan of their games, and
started talking about putting The Beatles in one. Through a lot of
talks eventually they convinced all the partners in Apple Corps to get
in on it, and were granted unfounded access to The Beatles. We’re
talking master tapes, photos and video that no one’s ever seen before.


CHUDTIP- No, they still haven’t lived this down.


The
game takes you through the Beatles’ entire career, culling songs from
all of their albums and letting you play through famous locations in
their history.  

THE PLAY
 
If
you’ve ever played a music game before you exactly how this works.
Colored rectangles fly from the top of the screen and you have to hit
the corresponding guitar fret or drum pad to play it.

Course,
there are a few differences. The two and three part harmonies add a ton to the singing
experience. Sometimes it’s hard to get people singing in Rock Band,
but this game’s got two big things going for it. First of all it’s The
Beatles, so you should know all the lyrics to every song. (If you
don’t, I hope someone takes away your ears, because you’re obviously
mistreating them.) Secondly, with three people on deck singing isn’t
such a daunting task for the more shy people out there. If you’re going
for a big score in the game you’ll all have to sing different harmonies
but the game doesn’t punish you for all singing the same part, or
switching which harmony you sing over the course of the song. As long
as you’re getting them you’ll be fine!


CHUDTIP-
Singing the harmonies is tricky work. By itself it sounds completely
out of place, but do it with another singer doing the main part and it will click immediately.


Sadly this also means that three mics are a
necessity for the game, but they will be well worth it. There’s nothing
more fun than hearing three of your friends try to hit the high and low
notes of a harmony and completely mangle it. Well actually, there is-
going into the vocal trainer and learning which notes to hit, plotting
it out with your friends, and then taking another crack at the song.
Which is way more fun than it has any right to be.

One thing
that Harmonix has always had over the other companies is the best charting in the world. They simply know how to make you feel like
you’re playing the song and keep things fun and playable no matter
what. The band works so well for this game because the Beatles weren’t
a group to simply play a riff over and over. Each has little changes
that will catch you off guard if you get too comfortable.

Some
people have been disappointed that you don’t pick lead or rhythm guitar
and are instead just given one guitar track that’s a combination of
both, but as you play you’ll realize that it was for the best. Playing
just one would encourage too much repetition, and changing back and
forth allows you to really experience the best of both worlds.



CHUDTIP-
Those gold stars? You’ll only see them playing in expert, and doing
incredibly well. It’s easiest to earn them with at least one more player.

 
Also, if you never knew what a great bass player McCartney is,
now’s the time to learn. While usually bass seems reserved for the less
skilled players of the group, this time all the bass lines are just as fun
(if not more so!) than the guitars. Just listen to Hey Bulldog for an example of an amazing bass line that keeps changing up and never gets old, flying up and down the fret.

The
drums are similarly exciting. Like the other instruments they’re never
terribly difficult but Ringo’s fills are a ton of fun to play. Which is
good because unlike in Rock Band
you don’t have blank sections to play your own fills. Instead you’ll
activate Star Power (dubbed Beatlemania this time around) by hitting a
highlighted green note.

Get six people together in a room and you’ll realize immediately what a success this is. These are some of the best note charts Harmonix has produced to date, incredibly replayable and fun.
 
THE PRESENTATION

This is where the game shines. While I loved Guitar Hero: Metallica for the music included, the game didn’t feel
like a Metallica game. There won’t be any question of what band this
game is based on. Everything, from the menus to the note charts, are
styled after the imagery associated with the band. Their presence is
everywhere here.

Then there are the backgrounds during gameplay. Normally in Rock Band
you won’t pay much attention to what’s going on in the back- who cares,
really? It’s some silly band you created on stage, and it’s amusing for
one or two plays before everyone ignores what’s going on back there and
just concentrates on the notes. But you’ll actually want to see the
backgrounds here.




CHUDTIP- You
can play the game with the note charts hidden to enjoy the visuals but
that’s insane unless you’re just singing. It’s too bad you can’t just
listen to the music…


While there’s a good section of “chapters” that represent the
touring years of the band (Ed Sullivan show, Shea Stadium, etc.) most
of the music we know and love was never performed live. To combat this
Harmonix wisely decided to stick you in Abbey Roads Studio 2 and see
the band recording their songs. This might seem boring but the songs are transported into “Dreamscapes” and the song is presented in music video form.
This means that for Yellow Submarine you’ll see John screaming his
lyrics from the titular sub, and in Hello Goodbye they’ll be dancing
around the stage in their silly outfits. Hey Bulldog’s pretty close to
the incredible promo video that they shot, but all the rest take you to
new places. Just check out what Sgt. Peppers’ looks like to see what I mean.

While
it’s all choreographed to the song and the band member’s motions are
all the same, the camera angles change each playthrough to keep things interesting. During the loading screen before each song you’ll also hear
song-specific outtakes from the band. Even restarting a song will
prompt an audio clip from the group- someone in the group shouting to
start it again! Again, real clips, most of which have never been heard
before outside of Apple Corps. It’s just another example of how much
access Harmonix was given to The Beatles, and how well they
incorporated it all.
 
THE REPLAY
 
The absolute biggest problem with this game is that there aren’t enough tracks.

When
you’re used to getting 80+ tracks in a music game 45 just doesn’t cut
it. Especially since you’ll likely blast through them in one
playthrough which will take you around 3 to 4 hours. Yes, there is DLC
on the way, and yes, we will buy it, but it’s still sad that they
couldn’t have had more out of the box. Course, it is
the Beatles, and ‘All You Need Is Love’ has already shown us that
they’re taking the same kind of care with the DLC that they did with
the tracks in the game (yes, it has visuals unique and choreographed to
the song).


Hardcore Rock Band
fans who are wary that the difficulty won’t be up to snuff, well,
you’re partially right. While it does seem like more of a challenge to
get 5 stars on each song this time (and 5 gold stars) none of the songs
are fast and insane like some of the Rock Band tracks. Of course the feeling of playing the songs is just so amazing that you won’t care but to help you, the Rock Band
nut, they’ve included achievements  that will truly test your mettle.
There are achievements for 100%-ing songs, for going through Challenges
and getting five stars on each song. There are even a ton of
song-specific achievements, such as hitting every hammer-on and
pull-off on Dear Prudence, or getting 100% on the drum solo in The End.
Both will likely drive you insane.

 



CHUDTIP-
Besides this rare Christmas record you also get footage of them before
Shea, a clip of them doing a rehearsal for Ed Sullivan, and some other
surprises…

 
Then of course there’s the pictures, video and songs that you
unlock by getting five stars on every song. I haven’t even mentioned
the difficult drum training modes or the online multiplayer and career
modes. So there’s plenty of replay value for those playing by
themselves at home, let alone when you have friends over. I spent my
whole weekend playing this game, and know I won’t be stopping anytime
soon.

 

THE VERDICT

Listening
to The Beatles is one thing, but “playing” their songs and seeing all
the little touches that went into their music will do nothing but
increase your appreciation of the band.

While Rock Band
is (and will continue to be) the best deal in town for the music game
junkie, there is no denying how special this game is. This is a
pitch-perfect tribute to one of the greatest bands in the world. It has
ruined us for future games to come because it’s doubtful that any can
match the amount of work and sheer love that went into this game.
 

9.8 out of 10