The Beatles Rock Band is pure fan service wrapped around the most solid rhythm/music game ever made. The core Rock Band formula stays intact. Up to 4 players grab plastics instruments & rock out to their favorite songs, in this case Beatles songs. The biggest addition you’ll find with this game, which was later added to Rock Band 3, is vocal harmonies. Along with the Lead vocalist you are able to add an extra microphone or two, depending on the song, to sing the corresponding harmonies that The Beatles’ music is known for. This does add to Rock Band’s main draw, the illusion of being in a real rock band, & this does work to great effect. While this feature works perfect, it can be awkward for another player playing guitar or bass to keep track & match the notes while still keeping up with what they’re supposed to be playing. It also seems to hurt your score if the additional vocalists miss, which affects your overall star total & can discourage hi-score seeking players from adopting the feature. On the other side, it can get rather boring for someone who just wants to sing along. As these harmonies can be short & far between; depending on the song.
The tracks are a mix match from all parts of The Beatles’ career & features songs from every album. Many of these are chosen to show off the diverse range of musical styles as well as each member’s contributions to the band by having a fair share of Ringo/George written songs or songs they did lead vocals for. While the 45 song track list is great, I couldn’t help but wish a few more of their more popular songs were included on the disk. I can understand though why “Michelle”, “Hey Jude”, or “Eleanor Rigby” are not on here due to them lacking the proper parts to make for fun gameplay. The development team over at Harmonix did a wonderful job with adding as much source material as they did to the game, even having in studio banter between the band during loading screens & the credits. They even added some of that pre-recording banter to the beginning of “The End”. However it is apparent that they couldn’t take too much liberty with adjusting the music to better fit the game. This isn’t too noticeable or even a complaint. The only thing this really affects is the exclusion of drum fills. They do offer 3 of the band’s LP’s as expansions on the marketplace. Adding the remaining tracks from either “Abby Road”, “Rubber Soul”, or “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to your Beatles Rock Band library. I don’t have a problem with the music not being exportable to other Rock Band titles as the songs would lose their impact due to the loss of the corresponding animations & dreamscape scenes. Keeping these songs separate is necessary to preserve the iconic image of The Beatles.
Going through the story you will visit many iconic places from Beatles history & play sets appropriate for each venue. The art style is where this game shines. Each song has been specifically crafted for the location & many of the more “trippier” songs from their non-touring days at Abby Road Studios feature fantastic dreamscapes. The underwater scenes from “Yellow Submarine” & “Octopus’s Garden” to the sunny landscapes of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” & “Here Comes the Sun” really capture the emotional pull of the track through these masterfully produced visual interpretations. As you progress through the story you will be earning photos of The Beatles throughout their career, accompanied by a bit of trivia. Earn enough of these photos & you’ll be rewarded with an additional Beatles “prize”. These include the sound file of the first Beatles’ fan club Christmas 7’ inch, outtakes from their first trip to America, & several others. These are amazing additions for any Beatles fan.
The game is not extremely difficult, as a player of any difficulty level can blow through the story in one sitting. The songs do not get more difficult as you progress either, due to them being ordered by time period rather than difficulty tiers. The challenge & re-playability of the game for hardcore gamers comes from unlocking all the extras & achievements, which can get really difficult even for expert players. Personally I am looking forward to going through the extra challenge mode & 5 staring every song for a third time to get that final prize & remaining photos, as well as cleaning up a few of those more difficult achievements.
The Beatles: Rock Band is an amazing game. It’s the perfect fit for a Beatles fan, as well as a newcomer who may not be familiar with their music & wants to see what all the buzz is about. Aside from being a great game, this shows how rhythm/music games, such as Rock Band, can be a great way to introduce younger crowds to great music.
Games are reviewed on a solid 5 star scale.