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Rock Band: The Beatles

Submitted by AyaJJ on September 21, 2009 - 3:01pm. Exclusive Game Impressions

I'm not a child of the 60's, but I'm a Beatles fan. I've been one for as long as I can remember. The first album I bought was an original copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The first song I learned to play on the guitar was "Here, There and Everywhere." I have them loaded on my Ipod. So you can imagine how happy I was when I learned Rock Band: The Beatles was coming out...

I'm also no stranger to the Rock Band franchise. I love that you can be the rock star you've always wanted to be without actually having to learn how to play music. I love the feeling of pulling off that amazing guitar riff or killer drum solo without knowing the difference between a kick drum and a high hat. It's one of the most self-indulgent, guilty pleasures out there. So as much as I was excited about Rock Band: The Beatles coming out, I was a bit apprehensive. What if it sucks? What if the peripherals aren't all that? What if the animation is goofy looking? What if it ruins my memories of singing in the back of my dad's station wagon?

I shouldn't have been concerned. Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ringo Starr, as well as the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison were extremely involved in the creation of this game. They wanted it done right, not only to respect the history they were recreating, but to respect the fans, who were just as invested in this emotionally as they were. How did they do?


Rock Band: The Beatles takes you from the Cavern, where they started out though their famous appearances all over the world (including the Budokan in Japan) to the rooftop in London where the world saw the end of an era in music history. The animation is fab. The artists captured their images without making them scary-realistic or anime-corny (like the old cartoon). The psychedelic era is presented with all the colors and lava lamp patterns without being acid-trip scary. It can be a little distracting, especially when you realize the tabs you're supposed to play are coming out of the neon orange cloud hovering around George. But all in all, the animation is awesome.

Game play is great. My sister, who is a Beatles fan, but not a video game player, was able to pick up a guitar and play without getting frustrated. The harmony feature can get tricky, mostly because most music doesn't use harmonies like the Beatles did. When my sister and I would try to harmonize in game, she ended up singing the same notes I was. Which didn't surprise me; we tried to harmonize singing Beatles songs all the time growing up, with limited success; most of the time I'd be yelling "You're John! I'm Paul!".

As for music... Come on, it's the Beatles. The music is outstanding. I was surprised with song choices, since a few songs I absolutely expected to be there, like Yesterday and All You Need Is Love, weren't listed while lesser known ones, like Dig a Pony, were playable. Harmonix plans on releasing more songs, so I'm not worried.

My sister, my younger brother, my nephews and I all played this game for hours on end. My nephews, whose first exposure to the Beatles came from commercials, were impressed by the complexity of the music. "It sounds easy, but I didn't realize it was that it was going to be that hard to play," said my younger nephew, who normally plays everything on expert the first time through. He ended up lowering the difficulty for the first few playthroughs. And after we decided we should hang it up for the day, my nephews started asking me for my Beatles albums to put onto their Ipods.

The special edition issue includes the trademark replicas of the Hofner Bass controller and Ludwig drum set. This is my only grump about the game. I really don't need another drum set. But I want the bass. I've wanted the bass since I saw Paul McCartney playing it. I tried to buy a Hofner bass when I was growing up, but it was about $800 (a fortune for a 5th grader on a fifty-cents-a-week allowance.) Now, they're about $3000 new. The Rickenbacher and the Gretsch styled controllers are sold separately for $99 each, but the Hofner only comes with the set. I wish they sold ALL the peripherals separately, since I also want the Gretsch. In any case, $350 for the set and one extra peripheral is better than $5000 for the real stuff (a real Gretsch runs about $1500). And I can try to trade in my original, boring Rock Band drums.

Overall, I highly recommend this game. Like the other Rock Band titles, it's got great replay value and is straight-up, a quality game. For fans, it lets you play along to the music you love. For others, it introduces one of the greatest bands in music history to a new generation of fans.

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