RockBand: The Beatles Review

Sep
12

When I heard they were putting out a RockBand edition for the Beatles, I must admit I wasn't terribly excited. Afterall, the early rumours (that turned out to be true) were that it was a stand-alone game that could not be mixed and matched with other music from the game.  The one thing that RockBand had previously done better than the Guitar Hero franchise, in my opinion, was give you a very solid platform by which to play with the music - and then get lots of new music into that solid platform.

However, as I found out more about the game I became more insterested and decided when it came out to give it a try.

I think I can sum the game up if you've ever played RockBand or Guitar hero by saying that the game is somewhat of a "Lite" version of the earlier franchises, with The Beatles. Gone is having to worry about unlocking songs, getting fans, etc. You can literally pop in the disc and start playing any songs on the disc without having to unlock them.

The thing that struck me the most playing the game is just how diverse and deep the Beatles catalogue goes - I realize this sounds kind of dumb because you're thinking "of course it is!" but the game really immerses you into that and lets you explore their music chronologically so you experience the songs as the band matures.

Your reward for playing the game well is that you get to unlock pictures and videos of the band - and I suspect many of them are things that only the most hard-core of fans have ever seen before. The first video you unlock is their 1964 Christmas album they sent to their official fan club members. It really highlighted to me the fact that these young men were suddenly catapulted into stardome and were still, in many ways, not much more than goofy teenagers. I also learned to appreciate a new term - "that's so GEAR!"

As far as the game play mechanism goes if you've played Guitar Hero World Tour or Rock Band previously, it's about the same. The only new element they've added to the game is that you can have up to 3 singers [attempting] to sing a song. First of all, this gives you a potential of 6 players on the game. Many of the songs have harmonies and each singer can take a part to do. I only discovered recently that even if there is one melody all 3 mics can attempt to sing and the game scores the best pitch amongst all three - I could see this being a real advantage for the high parts that I can't hit - Kate could theoretically chime in when her Expert guitar rifts aren't keeping her too busy :) The potential also exists to have all 6 parts (3 singers, 3 instruments) by 3 players if you could manage to put together 3 mic stands.

I have a few complaints about the game - I don't like the interface as much. I should preface this by saying I have always thought the RockBand 2 interface to be exceptional. The most annoying thing I find is that the markers that light up which buttons you are pressing do not really look much different than the non-lit version. For newbies to the Hard level like me, that can be disastrous as you can't tell if you're botching a note because of timing or the fact your fingers are in the wrong place.

I did not like the colour mechanisms for the game when I first started playing but I'm used to them now, so they're not as distracting as they once were.

Interestingly enough - there's not much room to adlib in the game. The Beatles vocal track is always on - even if you "fail out" (meaning you're effectively removed from the song) - in other Guitar Hero/RockBand Games if the singers out - there's no singing! I read that this was to protect the songs from being used for karaoke. There also appear to be no "drum fills" - meaning you can't bang away on the drums however you want at certain parts of the song like in RockBand.

I'm of mixed opinion on the track selection. There are a lot of GREAT tracks. There are some "Meh" tracks, and there are some tracks I've never heard before. I think they could have included a few more hits on the disc that you buy at the store. On the upside, all the songs are thoroughly enjoyed by my children so this is definably a game you can put on loud while they are awake and they'll happily dance along with you while you play :)

My final conclusion is that RockBand 2 is a MUCH more surperior rhythm game play experience as far as interface, diversity of game play, and re-playability. If you want to play a lot of great songs, and have a lot of fun along the way, pick up RockBand 2.

However, if you're at all a fan of the Beatles or have already played RockBand 2 to death then this is a great-add on to any collection. Beatles fans will find a tonne of new stuff in the way of pictures, videos, and other new exciting ways to interface with the band's archives. The harmonies are a nice touch, and I'm hoping they bring along the multi-mic game play element into future Rock Band games.

Twist and Shout!