It’s been done with with some great live bands such as AC/DC, Metallica and Aerosmith, but The Beatles Rock Band is like a dream come true for fans around the world. Harmonix has done an amazing job of bringing the music of the Beatles to life in an interactive setting, giving fans the chance to step into the shoes of any one of the Fab Four and play through their career.
From the time I popped in the game to when I had to force myself to turn it off, I was in Beatles heaven. The re-mastered audio tracks of the game sound amazing and the graphics are visually pleasing. Stages of the game are played in digital representations of the same venues the Beatles played in, such as the Ed Sullivan Show and Shea Stadium. The only stage that differs from the others is the Abbey Road recordings. Rather than show repeated scenes of the historic recording space, Harmonix created imaginative dreamscapes to represent the lyrics and tones of the music being played.
Some of the animation of John, Paul, George and Ringo is so wonderfully done that I find myself getting distracted watching The Beatles playing and singing. I’ve even forgotten to start playing the game when the notes begin scrolling because I’m so taken in by the quality of the animation. It really is like being able to see The Beatles together again.
Also, the intro and outro animations to the entire game are truly stunning. They really take you into a different world and I’m sure that John Lennon in particular would have loved these animations.
The number one change from the normal Rock Band 2 to The Beatles Rock Band is the addition of harmonies in the vocals. The Beatles are famous for their beautifully constructed, lush harmonies in many of their songs. With that in mind, Harmonix decided to divide the regular vocal track of Rock Band into three parts giving players the chance to nail all three parts to gain extra points. Of course you need three Rock Band microphones to be able to do this, but I would say it’s definitely worth the extra cash as this is one of the best additions to the game. I’ve found it very hard to concentrate on singing harmony and playing an instrument as the guitar track goes flying by and harder still to sing with the drum track flying by.
On the downside, at least on the Playstation 3 version, the sound quality from the microphones is terrible. The sound is tinny and thin which does diminish the enjoyment of the singing. I don’t know why Harmonix can’t seem to fix this problem. When Rock Band originally came out the microphones sounded full and warm with excellent quality. They then issued a software patch that destroyed the sound quality of the microphone. I wish they could resolve this problem.
If you’re a die hard Beatles fan, the option is available for you to buy exact replicas of the Beatles instruments in guitar, bass and drum controller form. Although it is pretty cool to walk into my gaming room and see the full replica set sitting against the wall, I wouldn’t recommend the large expense to everyone. The game works just as well with the old Rock Band 1& 2 controllers and buying just the game instead of the full box set cuts the cost down from a few hundred to around $50. But if you feel the need to get the extra replica instruments, I will say playing on them rather than the normal Rock Band instruments definitely raises the fun level for me.
Another fun thing about The Beatles Rock Band is the loading screens. While you’re waiting for your set to start, audio snippets of dialogue, tunings, and other audio gathered from the Beatles between takes recordings are played. These recordings have never been released before and are fun to listen to. Strong performances also unlock old photos, videos and other extras from the band’s career. Some of these bonus materials are a real treasure. I especially enjoyed unlocking the first Fan Club Christmas Flexi-Disc that The Beatles recorded. It’s really fun and funny to listen to John, Paul, George and Ringo goofing around doing this Christmas gift to the fans.
Overall I am very impressed with The Beatles Rock Band. It does an admirable job of showcasing the music of the Beatles, delivering a brand new way for long time fans to appreciate it, and undoubtedly drawing new fans into the fold.
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