Review – The Beatles: Rock Band–The Fab Four Invade Your Living Room!

The first impressions given off at E3 about The Beatles: Rock Band were fantastic. The game was designed with Paul, Ringo, Yoko, Olivia, and Dhani Harrison. How could it not be good? Is the game good?

Actually, it’s better than good; it’s great! It is Rock Band.

It’s just not the same as Rock Band 2. Let’s start with the gameplay. You all know the basics. Notes come down on a “highway” of sorts and you try to hit them at the right time with your plastic instruments. There are 3 main forms of gameplay: Story, Quickplay, and Head to Head.

Quickplay lets you jump into any song with your friends, while Head To Head let’s you compete in other multiplayer modes, such as Tug Of War, and Score Duel. There are some minor differences, though. There are no Big Rock Endings in this, along with no Drum Fills. I presumed that Apple Corps wanted the music to be played exactly as it is heard on the albums.

Story mode is the main from of gameplay. This lets you explore the Beatles career, from The Cavern Club to the rooftop concert. Despite the fact that there is no World Tour mode like in previous Rock Band games, it is surprisingly deep. Every song you complete gives you special photos of The Fab Four, some being never-before-seen. And after you complete a section in Story mode, you unlock a Challenge, which requires you to play every song in the previous section in a row. When you unlock enough photos, you receive special prizes, consisting of videos of The Beatles, which are actually very interesting. They’re there mainly for hardcore Beatles fans, who will take great delight in seeing the Beatles play around on a train in front of the press, while on their first US tour.

The song selection is absolutely fantastic, with classics like Helter Skelter, Revolution, Get Back, andI Saw Her Standing There. Despite there only being about half as many songs as Rock Band 2, the songs that are on the disc are very good, plus the downloadable content, which is set to include all of Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road. The songs themselves are very fun to play. I never imagined that I Am The Walrus could be so engaging.

The visuals are absolutely beautiful. While they are a little cartoony, it is, after all, a video game. The recreation of places like The Cavern Club and The Ed Sullivan Show is spot-on. It’s amazing to see the amount of detail put into this game. However, I especially enjoyed the Dreamscapes. The producers of the game put this in because they figured that since the Beatles spent most of the time on the studio, it’d be pretty boring to just see the guys perform the songs in the studio. So, they created Dreamscapes, which are landscapes that The Beatles perform in, and are influenced by the meaning of the song, and the general feel of the song. They are absolute eye candy, and are very engaging to watch, even on the Wii's lower graphics.

The Beatles: Rock Band is a fantastic game, and sets the bar for band-based video games. It not only provides engaging gameplay, but a whole new way to experience the music of The Beatles. Highly recommended! A Mac Edition Radio Holiday Gift Pick!

Thomas Fogel, Posted 11/27/2009

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