The Beatles, really what can you say about an iconic band that has produced music that transcends across generations. So it was with extreme enthusiasm that I got to grab my little plastic guitar and make it weep. Even if I wish there was a sitar controller available. The Rock Band series has broken away from its typical formula and introduced a game that is completely engrossing and visually captivating, so much so that you’ll think you are tripping along with John and Paul when playing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
When the game first opens there is no Paul in a car driving and Ringo on the top of it screaming at the top of his lungs while beating the drums like previous versions of the game (with different characters obviously), no it’s the most beautiful video trailer to a game I have seen in a very long time. You are introduced to the Beatles though their meager beginnings performing in Liverpool to Beatlemania to the trippy late 60’s which eventually lead to the end at Abbey Road. You see the band pass by older and younger versions of themselves along with screaming fans chasing after them. The finale of the intro is the most beautifully high on LSD visual experience to watch without being physically high. Elephants, penguins, and other whimsical characters dancing and walking along as the Beatles look down upon it. Welcome to Beatles Rock Band.[nggallery id=184]
I didn’t get a chance to review the game with the special addition Beatles Rickenbacker 325 and Gretsch Duo Jet guitars, but honestly you don’t need them, unless you want to really complete the time warp. This version of Rock Band is different just from pushing the Start button. You are introduced to fluid menu screens with rich graphics that would give Guitar Hero a run for its money. No visual detail was spared. You can enjoy a Quickplay or Story Mode. I opted for Story Mode. Once you get started it asks you to calibrate your instruments and TV because some may experience a delay if not calibrated correctly. Once you get passed that, you are taken to a loading screen of the Cavern club where it all began. Fans screaming – the Beatles looking as innocent as ever. I was hoping for some black leather duds, but no just clean-cut suits. You start out with 4 songs: Twist and Shout, Boys, Do You Want to Know a Secret, and I Saw Her Standing There. The one thing you will notice in these earlier years of the Beatles is just like their songs – the notes are simple to play as well. The notes are bigger too – thank god! No eye strain here. The Beatles also like their chord notes. Not too much time passes by without having to hold down on average two buttons at a time and then quickly switching to press down another chord combo.
The Beatles themselves look like caricatures of themselves but done in a respectful way. Paul still has that baby face look, Ringo is well Ringo, George looks the most realistic, and then John. Yes, John, my most favorite Beatle and lead singer and guitarist on the majority of the Beatles catalog, and yet I didn’t feel like I saw enough of him. No – who did I see more? George! Yes George – he gets an extreme amount of screen time that he didn’t get in real life and I wonder if that’s because his son Dhani modeled for his likeness in the game. Even Paul and his big cheeks didn’t get as much upfront camera time as George. I Love George too, but in my opinion it was a little too much. All the Beatles sing their respective songs and harmonize when necessary. If you are a true Beatle fan you will appreciate the fine details of the imagery used when certain songs play as they borrow directly from various Beatles movies like Yellow Submarine and Magical Mystery Tour.
There are 45 songs to play through and depending on how well you do – 5 stars will unlock pictures and awards to other goodies buried in the game. Once you are finished up at the Cavern Club you have hit it big time and on your way to Ed Sullivan, Shea Staduim, Budokan, Abbey Road (three sets are played here), Rooftop Concert and then finally an Encore. The song list is extensive but personally my fave years are at Abbey Road during there high as a kites days. The guitar riffs become much more enjoyable to play and the keys are broken up and not incessant chord combos repeating. You almost don’t want to play so that you can soak in the beautifully done video sequences as the song is played. As a matter of fact, it becomes especially distracting on certain songs like “I’m the Walrus” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” but I guess that is the point. You can’t really fail while playing this game since there is a “No Fail Mode,” But even so you just don’t want to. You sing along and tap your feet and for a few hours you are a Beatle.
Of course the crux of the game is the three part harmony which playing as a group is probably harder than playing all the instruments together as a whole. You don’t realize till then, how John’s voice and even George’s chained so frequently as the years have gone on and some of those notes are just impossible to hit without enduring a sore throat. But we tried as we might and even if it made my dog and rabbits cover their ears as we hit the notes hard, and did we hit them hard.
You will not be disappointed with Rock Band Beatles, in fact you will be encouraged to keep on playing even after you beat all 45 songs in a day. With more content to come and features that can only be unlocked if you get a crew together to play it, because you need the massive points, it will only encourage your friends and family to Come Together. The Beatles: Rock Band retails for $59.99. If you want the Beatlesesque instruments I suggest just getting The Beatles: Rock Band Limited Edition which retails for $249.99 which is basically all you will need to become a full fledged Beatle.
The Good: Excellent graphics, re-mastered songs, never before seen unlocked goodies and you get to be a Beatle for several hours – What more could you want?
The Bad: Less George, more John. The background imagery can actually be a bit distracting during some songs.