Monday, September 7, 2009

'Beatles Rock Band' hits right note


The Beatles Rock Band
Developed by Harmonix
Published by MTV Games
Rated T
Available on the Xbox 360, PS3 and the Wii on 09-09-09

Let’s face it, folks. The Rock Band/Guitar Hero video game genre is like a familiar pop tune. You’ve heard it before and it’s starting to get old. You know the drill - you play the game - you hit the right notes, you earn achievements or trophies and have fun. Of course, throw Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison into the mix and Apple Corps direction for Harmonix and you have something that’s more than a video game.

I could put you to sleep with the features The Beatles Rock Band has. I could tell you that Harmonix has done an excellent job on redoing the guitar/drum/mic interface for the Beatles Rock Band and how great the animations, the venues and the rabid fan animations look. I could go on and on about how you can move the crowd with Beatlemania. But I won’t do that at this time.

What makes this game rock is the experience. From the first concert you take part in at the Cavern Club, to Abbey Road and all points between, you are one of the Beatles. Never before has a video game let you be in the middle of Beatlemania. It doesn’t matter if you choose the microphone, the drums or the guitar (what’s really cool for Rock Band and Rock Band 2 owners - you can use your instruments with Beatles Rock Band), you are a member of the band. Call yourself the 5th Beatle - I felt like the final member with their songs stuck in my head and in my dreams.

When you start the game, let the intro play. You won’t be disappointed.

After the intro, you have a few options - training, local or online story mode. There’s also the Quickplay mode for gamers who want to get in fast and play with the Beatles. I definitely recommend the training mode.

For new and nongamers who are Beatlemanics, Harmonix also offers a nice carrot for you as well - a no-fail mode. This mode, which is available in Quickplay too, makes it impossible for newbies to fail. Having an off night? No problem. You can still play and not worry about competing.

The songs and sounds of the teens screaming really make you feel like you are there with the band. From Sir Paul’s quick “1,2,3,4!” to the way cool voice of Ed Sullivan introing the band, the live sound of the game is impressive.

New to Beatles Rock Band is Vocal Harmonies. Up to three singers can sing three different parts in songs. Each singer will have their own part, and they all share the same controller - so others can drum, play bass while get your singing on. Need some help? Get your online buddies to be part of your band. Up to 5 of your friends on your console or online can bring the noise.


Visually, you will be stimulated by the Beatles Rock Band. On the Ed Sullivan Show, the yellowish tint is vividly recreated - the animated fans mimic their real-life counterparts. At the Cavern Club, the cramped spaces looks and feels like a janitor’s closet.

However, the main draw are the songs. Apple Corps allowed Harmonix to use original master recordings for the game, with more downloadable songs coming soon. There are 45 songs on the disc, and you can train on all of them from the start of the game.

Some of the songs include:
A Hard Day’s Night
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Can’t buy me love
Day Tripper
Eight Days a Week
Here Comes the Sun
I feel fine
I want to hold your hand
Ticket to Ride
Twist and Shout
Yellow Submarine

Don’t feel like playing with story mode to play a song? Want to get the hang of the song before *performing?* Head to the studio, select your tune and loop the song. Ringo does the voice over in the training sessions, which is a nice touch.

There’s so much more I could talk about with the Beatles Rock Band, but I will address a few drawbacks. Harmonix admits taking some “minor liberties” with some promo videos in the game. Apple Corps., Sir Paul and a few others allowed the video game developer to show the group in a harmonious light. I don’t have a problem with that, but diehard fans may notice a few things from Beatle history may not be accurate. Plus, if you own Rock Band and Rock Band 2, you can use your instruments, but you can’t import songs or export or download Beatles songs. This game is a standalone Rock Band game.

In the end, it’s still an awesome game that is fitting for the best entertainers out of Liverpool. From the unlockable videos featuring the members-only Beatles Christmas .45, to the candid shots of John, George, Paul and Ringo in the ring with Cassius Clay, it’s a video game experience that should ignite some serious Beatlemania this holiday season.

The verdict? 4.5 out of 5 stars. This game thrives with its narrow focus on the iconic band. While the game shows the band in an alternate reality of sorts, it’s still a fun ride. Diehard fans won’t be disappointed, the replay value is solid. Visuals are stimulating and engaging, and the sounds are impressive.

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