james debate
james debate

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Developed by Harmonix
Genre Rhythm
Platform Xbox360, PS3, Wii
Release date(s) Out Now

The greatest band of all time get their own dedicated guitar game.

beatles rock band

Beatlemania has officially returned. This year, not only do the fab four get their own video game, but a remake of Yellow Submarine the movie has recently been announced.

Apple Corps has finally begun to relinquish it's vice like grip on all things Beatles and allow the people to enjoy their brilliance across all forms of media. As soon as this possibility was announced, there ensued a heated bidding war for the licensing rights between the waning Guitar Hero and Rockband. Rockband won, and in retrospect it looks like it may be a match made in heaven.

At it's core, this game is a love letter to the fans. The entire career of the Beatles is painstakingly recreated from their early days in Liverpool to Shea Stadium, Ed Sullivan, and eventually the roof of Apple Corps studio. Each band member's likeness is recreated and lovingly animated, and even their instruments are authentic.

Story mode sees you play through their career, including a massive stretch of songs inside the Apple Corps studio. Now clearly half the story mode being played in the same setting would be boring, so in a stroke of genius, Harmonix came up with the idea of 'dreamscapes'. Now when you start playing a song in the studio, the set starts to melt away into one of these 'dreamscapes', wonderful fantasies that are custom designed for each song and feature really stunning and imaginative imagery unlike anything you've ever seen in a music game, or games from most other genres for that matter. Examples include a beautiful sunny hill top in 'Here comes the Sun', an under the sea dreamland in 'Octopus Garden' and the band in their Magical Mystery Tour animal forms (one of the trippiest things I've ever seen).

Each set begins with an introductory cutscene featuring real audio from the actual event, and each song begins with real audio recordings of the Beatles members warming up and chatting beforehand. It's all incredibly authentic and thoroughly detailed. On top of this, gamers can unlock photos and videos of the fab four back in their heyday. It's all pretty awesome if you're a Beatles fan.

There is also a challenge mode, which involves playing through a set list, getting 5 stars on every song without a break between songs, which adds extra depth to the game. Beating this on a lower difficulty is pretty easy and unlocks more photos for you, but try it on expert and weep.

That being said, the game never gets as difficult as Guitar Hero on the hardest difficulties, or even much of Rockband 2. Staying true to form, Harmonix don't try to 'manufacture' difficulty by making songs more difficult than they actually are, something Guitar Hero might like to try some day. As a result, the songs will be easier, but far more accurate.

A second now to talk about the instruments. The Paul McCartney Bass that comes with full bundle is by far the sweetest plastic guitar ever made. Sadly it plays mostly like crap, as do the rest of the instruments. Rockband may be a better game than Guitar Hero, but when it comes to instruments, Harmonix are sadly lacking.

Lastly, the DLC. Right now one can download All you Need is Love from the online store, with more albums on the way. Supposedly we will be able to play most of the Beatles catalogue in this game eventually, presumably aside from certain songs with very little guitar, like Hey Jude.

At the end of the day your decision is simple. If you don't like the Beatles then don't bother with this. If you do, then brilliant you're going to love this. Ultimately this is the most complete Beatles experience there is, and what you get is a package that is simply oozing with 60s style Beatlemania and love.

The Music
Loving attention to detail
Tons of extra Beatles goodies

Waiting for more DLC
Annoying instruments
The first unlockables seem to be the best ones

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