On September 9th 2009 a second coming will be happening, a second British Invasion if you will, The Beatles Rock Band will be officially released. I of course was one of the lucky ones to get a copy early for Xbox360 thanks to the gang at Harmonix. I’m very grateful to them for sending it over to me of course, and I had quite a lot of fun playing it for many hours to completion. I’m here to tell you that The Beatles Rock Band is all that and then some, it’s the best of the Rock Band series by far. I wasn’t too impressed by the last Rock Band game, kind of got boring actually, but The Beatles is totally different. The visuals are stunning and truly capture the spirit of The Beatles, and the track list includes many, many popular favorites and many more that are a little lesser known, at least those that don’t get much airplay these days.
Up on the review block tonight I’ve got one of the most anticipated games of 2009, The Beatles Rock band for the Xbox360. The Rock Band series has been well received overall but with this special version I believe they’ve taken the Rock Band experience to a whole new level.
I might be a bit biased here, I’m a Beatles fan myself, but I had a lot of fun playing this game, I found myself singing right along as I was playing on the guitar. I was eight years old when John Lennon was shot, and yes I remember it, it’s a shame the world lost a great musician that day. Personally I truly like the fact that this version of Rock Band was done, it’s going to introduce a whole new generation to some fabulous music in a way that I’m sure was never dreamt of by John or any of The Beatles.
We’ll start this off with box shots. Included with the game is some promo material including a coupon for a free Beatles T-Shirt for your Avatar..
Sadly I’m not allowed to actually take any screens from the game of my own for you to see, but of course I’ve got a bunch that they sent me over. The following shots are all from separate songs.
While you’re playing The Beatles Rock Band you will almost feel as though you’re there. The game takes place in many of the popular venues that the Beatles played like Shea Stadium, Ed Sullivan Show, Cavern Club and Budokan. Since a lot of The Beatles music was done in studio, Harmonix wasn’t just going to let you star at studio walls while you’re playing. The art team did a spectacular job at reproducing the feeling of the music, and creating backgrounds and scenery that match the songs you’re playing. The game alone is worth playing just to see the amazing visuals that they’ve produced for this game. One of favorites has to be Yellow Submarine which features of course a Yellow Submarine and scenes with the band playing beneath the ocean. The art team over there certainly deserves and award for their truly wonderful work on this game, I was truly amazed, at times I found myself missing notes while playing because I was captivated by the background.
The artwork isn’t just during the songs either, between each level or venue you’ve got sort of a historical cut scene as well that gives you a look at the goings on, on the way for The Beatles. It’s all nicely done overall, I can’t stress enough how wonderfully perfect it all looks, and just how well it captures the spirit of The Beatles.
Playing the game though is similar to the other RB titles, but The Beatles adds a special part to the game, three part harmony, which of course requires the use of three microphones. The Beatles were and still are very much well known for their harmony, now you and your friends can recreate that experience for yourself. It does take a bit of practice though, but thankfully included is a trainer to help you train your voice actually to better sing the parts of the songs.
If you’re a drummer then you’ll very much appreciate the ‘Beatle Beats’ Training Mode where you can actually practice the drum beats that made Ringo one of the most famous drummers of his time.
Playing the game through story mode is fun really, a bit short but still very much a lot of fun. Story mode takes you on tour with The Beatles playing at their four most popular venues, then it takes you into the studio, but not really, as I mentioned Harmonix isn’t going to let you just stare at studio walls. The section in the studio is called Abbey Dreamscapes, and as I mentioned it’s just amazing the works that was done in terms of art. The last place you’ll play is the last place The Beatles played, the roof of the studio.
The first four venues are basically concerts complete with screaming, adoring fans, that was handled very nicely. As you’re playing you’ll see The Beatles on stage in what are half-decent renderings, all of the characters in the game are comical looking or almost resemble the Xbox avatar style, but when you see them there’s no mistaking who they are on stage.
As you’re playing and completing the stages you’ll unlock challenge modes that you can go back to and play from the menu. The challenge modes are simply re-visiting the venue and playing all the songs again, but without a break between them. The idea is to play your best of course.
There are many unlocks in the game, including several dozen actual photos related to The Beatles, some of which were previously not shown to the public. You’ll also get to hear actual in-studio talking between The Beatles that has never been released before, you’ll get to hear them, not just singing, but being themselves. So there’s a big piece of history and nostalgia that you’ll experience while playing the game.
Of course there are Achievements as well, and some are fairly easy to get, while others are harder. I would say to go and check out my gamertag on Xboxlive, but apparently they’re hidden as of now. I just checked Xboxlive.com and while it says I have them, they’re not detailed. One special one is Daytripper that you can get for competing the game within 24 hours of starting it, of course I got that one… The easy ones are like just play a song at each venue and earn 10pts for each one, you can get 2opts for getting 1,000,000 points for Guitar Career, you can get 5pts just for calibrating your guitar, 10pts for getting your first photo, a hard one might be 30 pts for five starring every song and there’s a lot more as well as one might expect. One of the interesting things about the achievements is that you can access them from the game menu and see where you stand in accomplishing each one.
If you’re accustomed to playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band games then this game will come as quite a change of pace for you. It’s slow, and the songs are rather short really, at least most of them are, but that’s how they were, back then you didn’t normally have five and six minute songs, so this will be very different from playing the songs of today. You’re not going to be mashing buttons frantically even on expert mode, the songs just aren’t like that, you will get a challenge yes, but not like you’ve experienced before. Playing it on easy is a cake walk, the pace of the notes if slow, and even on medium it is as well, and even on expert really it is slow as well, it’s just more notes to play. I’ve played most of the other games out there and it took me a few songs to get adjusted to the slow place of these ones, I found myself missing notes only because the pace was slow and not something I was accustomed to. The Beatles aren’t about that, if you know The Beatles then you know that they’re quite laid back, and that’s very much shown here in the gameplay style.
I could not get into the online aspect of the game as it wasn’t ready yet, so I can’t comment on that, but seeing the game as is you can expect only good things from it.
For the Specifications section below, normally for our review we’ve just got the basics listed, but for this one I’ve got everything for you about the game including most of the track listing.
Dreamscapes– Highlighting the years in Studio Two at Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles revolutionized modern recording and created amazing masterpieces are inspired artistic visual expressions known as Dreamscapes. These imaginative environments capture the essence of The Beatles’ genre-busting musical and fashion transformations during their later years.
Story Mode – Experience The Beatles career as you progress through five historic venues from The Cavern Club, to Abbey Road Studios and on to their final performance on the rooftop of Apple’s headquarters.
Rewards System – As you progress through story mode unlock iconic images, audio and video of the Beatles– some that have never been released – and experience chapter challenges, which allow you to master the songs from a single chapter in the career of The Beatles with special rules.
In-Studio Audio Chatter – Listen to never before released audio clips featuring conversations from The Beatles’ recording sessions.
Three-Part Harmony & Vocal Training Mode – In an industry first, challenge your voice to master the three-part vocal harmonies perfected by The Beatles.
Beatle Beats – Practice actual drumbeats made famous by Ringo Starr.
Online Play – Play with up to five other people from across the globe in online Story Mode and Quickplay. (Internet connection required)
The Music That Rocked The World – For the first time ever, play along with 45 legendary Beatles songs on the game-disc.
Experiential Journey – Take an interactive journey through the legacy and evolution of The Beatles’ legendary career from the renowned venues to the clothing and instruments made famous by The Fab Four.
Downloadable Songs and Albums – Keep the amazing experience alive with more music from The Beatles epic catalogue available as downloadable content from full albums to single tracks.
Venues – Progress through five seminal venues in which The Beatles performed during their careers including: The Cavern Club, the set of the Ed Sullivan Show, Budokan, Shea Stadium and the rooftop of Apple Records.
Dreamscapes and Abbey Road – Highlighting the years in Studio Two at Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles revolutionized modern recording and created amazing masterpieces are inspired artistic visual expressions known as Dreamscapes. These imaginative environments capture the essence of The Beatles’ genre-busting musical and fashion transformations during their later years.
Never Before Released In-Studio Audio Chatter – Audio clips featuring conversations from The Beatles’ recording sessions, some of which have never before been heard, bookend the game play experience.
Cut Scenes – Get whisked away through history as a montage of photos, audio and iconic Beatles moments transport you from historical venue to historical venue though the rapidly evolving look and sound of The Fab Four.
Three-Part Harmony – For the first time ever, master the amazing three-part vocal harmonies perfected by The Beatles.
Imagine All The People – Play with up to six bandmates… three mics for vocal harmonies, guitar, bass and drums! Plus, it is easier than ever to jump in and play as no-fail mode is automatically activated for players who select the “Easy” difficulty option.
Connect Online – Play together in your living room or across the world! The Beatles Rock Band offers deep online functionality allowing you to connect and play together no matter where you are. (Internet connection required)
Quickplay – Jump right into the game and experience the fabulous music of The Beatles as all songs will be unlocked in this easy to access mode. Quickplay also features familiar competitive Rock Band modes Tug of War and Score Duel!
Story Mode – Set out on an experiential progression through The Beatles’ legendary career from The Cavern Club to Abbey Road Studios!
Chapter Challenges – Master all of the songs from a single Chapter in the career of The Beatles with special challenges!
Training Modes – Go beyond the basics and perfect your sound with training modes that includes Beatle Beats, Vocal Practice mode and more!
Beatle Beats – Take on the stylings of Ringo Starr with this training mode that lets you practice actual drum beats from a selection of The Beatles catalogue
Vocal Practice Mode – Train your ear and voice to master three part harmony! Use the guide pitch to help you sing hard to decipher parts perfectly in-tune!
The Beatles: Rock Band will feature 45 spectacular songs on-disc pulled from The Beatles’ epic catalogue. Below is a list of the on-disc tracks that have been announced to date:
I Saw Her Standing There
Twist and Shout
Do You Want to Know a Secret
Ed Sullivan Theater:
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Can’t Buy Me Love
A Hard Day’s Night
I Wanna Be Your Man
I Feel Fine
I’m Looking Through You
Eight Days a Week
If I Needed Someone
Ticket to Ride
Drive My Car
And Your Bird Can Sing
Abbey Road Dreamscapes:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help from My Friends
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows
I Am The Walrus
Back in the USSR
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Here Comes the Sun
Dig a Pony
Don’t Let Me Down
I’ve Got a Feeling
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
I Me Mine
Additional music from The Beatles’ catalogue will be made available for download through The Beatles: Rock Band Music Store.
Downloadable content announced to date:
Abbey Road (1969) album
Release Date: October 20, 2009
$16.98 (or 1360 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360) for album
$1.99 (or 160 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360) for individual tracks
“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”
“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”
“Here Comes The Sun”
“You Never Give Me Your Money”
“Mean Mr. Mustard”
“She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”
“Carry That Weight”
Purchasers of the full album download of Abbey Road will have the option to play the famous 16 minute B-side medley as a single continuous track
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) album
Release Date: November 2009
Pricing: To be announced
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
“With A Little Help From My Friends”
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
“Fixing A Hole”
“She’s Leaving Home”
“Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite”
“Within You Without You
“When I’m Sixty Four”
“Good Morning Good Morning”
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”
“A Day In The Life”
Rubber Soul (1965) album
Release Date: December 2009
Pricing: To be announced
“Drive My Car”
“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”
“You Won’t See Me”
“Think For Yourself”
“What Goes On”
“I’m Looking Through You”
“In My Life”
“If I Needed Someone”
“Run For Your Life”
“All You Need Is Love”
Release Date: September 9, 2009
Pricing: $1.99 (or 160 Microsoft Points for Xbox 360)
Track will be available exclusively on Xbox LIVE for a limited time
All proceeds from Apple Corps., MTV Games, Harmonix and Microsoft will benefit Doctors Without Borders
The Beatles: Rock Band will be compatible with all Rock Band instrument controllers, as well as most Guitar Hero® and other third party music video game peripherals and microphones. In addition, the game will also feature a new line of limited edition instrument controllers licensed and designed to replicate the instruments made famous by The Beatles.
Höfner Violin Bass – This large-scale replica is modeled after the bass made famous by Sir Paul McCartney.
Rickenbacker 325 Guitar – This guitar controller replica is hailed as one of the signature guitars famously used by John Lennon.
Gretsch Duo Jet Guitar – This guitar controller replica is modeled after one of the most beloved guitars played by George Harrison during his career.
Ludwig Pearl Finish Rock Band Drum Set – The Ringo Starr inspired and Ludwig-branded Rock Band 2 drums, with a classic pearl finish and vintage replica Beatles kick drum head.
Limited Edition Premium Bundle for Xbox 360/PS3/Wii: US MSRP $249.99, continental Europe MSRP €199.00, UK MSRP £179.00
Includes: The Beatles: Rock Band software, Höfner Bass controller: Large scale replica of the Bass famously used by Sir Paul McCartney, Beatles-inspired and Ludwig-branded Rock Band 2 drums with classic pearl finish and vintage replica Beatles kick drum head, Microphone, Microphone Stand, Additional special content
Rickenbacker 325 Standalone Guitar for Xbox 360/PS3/Wii: US MSRP $99.99, continental Europe MSRP €99.99, UK MSRP £89.99
Gretsch Duo Jet Standalone Guitar for Xbox 360/PS3/Wii: US MSRP $99.99, continental Europe MSRP €99.99, UK MSRP £89.99
The Beatles: Rock Band Software for Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3: US MSRP $59.99, continental Europe MSRP €69.99, UK MSRP £49.99
The Beatles: Rock Band Software for Wii: US MSRP $59.99, continental Europe MSRP €49.99, UK MSRP £39.99
Publisher: MTV Games
Distributor: Electronic Arts
Category: Music/Rhythm Game
One major complaint I could have about this game is the fact that there’s only 45 songs, you’re going to have to spend money to buy more if you want them. The songs that are included are popular, and some that aren’t so, which overall is not a bad thing. There are notable popular songs missing though, one such song is Rocky Raccoon, that’s one I was looking forward to playing. Looking at the upcoming track list I don’t see it there, but then they’ve promised to release more, so hopefully it will be there.
Another small complaint would be that you’re going to be spending some money with this game, not just for the songs, but if you want to purchase the band kit, and the additional accessories. The Beatles Rock Band, I think is the most expensive ones to date, and the one with the most additional accessories. First off you’re going to have to go and buy more microphones if you want to take part in the three part harmony feature, unless of course those who want to play the game with you have their own. Then if you want the special edition guitars and Bass. The Hofner bass is only available in the premium bundle which runs $250, then the other two guitars run $100 each, so that’s a nice chunk of change to spend on a video game really…
The final complaint would be that story mode is too short, at least it seemed that way to me, it might have taken me about 10 hours to complete, maybe less, because I wasn’t playing non-stop. The main reason it’s short is of course because there is only 45 songs to play, but there are the challenge modes as well, but those are just re-playing the same songs you just played.
The replay value is more for the multiplayer aspect of it all, either online or in your living room you can play with friends, which is part of the whole music game phenomenon.
I’ve played Rock Band2, and several of the Guitar Hero games, including GH5, and they all pale in comparison to this game. Honestly I wasn’t very impressed with GH5 at all, but that’s for another day. This game is what a music game should be, it captures the spirit and essence of the music, and especially that of The Beatles.
The Beatles Rock Band is the epitome of perfection when it comes to the music genre of gaming, this game is one that will amaze and astound you truly.
Harmonix has done good with this game, there’s not much I can think of in terms of improving it really, maybe more songs, but other than that it’s a perfect tribute to one of the greatest musical bands of all time, and it’s a great game as well.
This is music gaming done right, plain and simple. It’s more than just a collection of songs to play, it’s a piece of history that you can be a part of, and learn about really. The Beatles were a musical force that took the world by storm, and I think this game will have a very similar effect as well.
If you purchase any music game, get this one, even if you aren’t a Beatles fan get it anyway, you’ll very much enjoy it. Of course if you are a Beatles fan then this is must-have game for you, I love The Beatles and always will, and this game truly shows and let’s you feel just what they were all about.
This game isn’t without minor faults though, but the good still very much overshadows the bad. I don’t hand out the Editor’s Choice Award lightly, but The Beatles Rock Band truly deserves it.
+Truly captures the spirit of The Beatles
+Fun to play by yourself or with many others
+Three part harmony
+Includes exclusive video, audio and pictures
+Quickplay all songs unlocked
+Lots of great songs included
+Training mode is actually rather fun
-Limited number of songs
-You’re going to be spending money to complete The Beatles collection