The Beatles: Rock Band Review

  • Posted September 8th, 2009 at 10:00 EDT by Adam Dolge

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The Beatles: Rock Band

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The Beatles: Rock Band is everything a Beatles fan has been waiting for. A compelling and mesmerizing experience.

We like

  • The visually stunning dreamscapes
  • The tremendous setlist of classic Beatles tracks
  • How the game pulled us back to the 1960s so effortlessly

We dislike

  • How story mode loses its appeal towards the end
  • The lack of any real new concept

See PSU's review on Metacritic & GameRankings

There’s little doubt that the members of The Beatles were idealists. From heartfelt ballads explaining to the world that “all you need is love,” to protest songs calling for a revolution, the band seemed poised and compelled to change the world. When they pressed past the early years of pop, with easy dance numbers like Twist and Shout and I Want to Hold Your Hand, and stumbled into psychedelic mind trips featuring submarines and bulldogs, their progression showed that bands could evolve. In fact, they should evolve. Now, some 45 years since the band formed, with two surviving members, a worldwide allegiance of fans, and a spot in music history as the greatest band of all time, Harmonix has taken the task of immortalizing John, Paul, George and Ringo in videogame history in The Beatles: Rock Band.

Before this review goes any further, it should be clear that if you don’t like The Beatles, you will most likely not care for this game. In that case, we feel bad for you and suggest you take the plunge and give it a shot out regardless – you may be pleasantly surprised. As you’d expect, The Beatles: Rock Band is functionally the same experience as you’ll find in any other Rock Band or Guitar Hero title. You will not find any major changes to the gameplay and there are no new bells or whistles that are interesting enough to make this game stand out above its predecessors. What it does have is an immaculate presentation filled with a repertoire of some of the most sought after tracks in all of music videogames.

The Beatles: Rock Band is an absolute feast for your eyes and ears. We’ll start with what the game does best -- present the Fab Four in brilliantly crafted levels that take you from the band’s first concerts in the Cavern Club to the trippy Abby Road sessions. Playing in front of the small crowds in the Cavern or thousands of screaming fans in Shea Stadium certainly makes you feel the band’s natural yet almost exponential growth and success. As the years pass and the band’s touring days come to a close, the game’s settings turn to recording studios and magical fields and oceans. Yes, the band’s psychedelic years are well represented through what Harmonix describes as ‘dreamscapes,’ essentially visual representations of the songs. Since many of the band’s tunes were never performed live, Harmonix decided to create what feels like mini movies or music videos instead of planting the gracefully aging Beatles into unfaithful venues. It’s that faithfulness to the band’s history and progression that makes the experience addicting.

As you advance through the levels, the recreated Beatles members start to age. Their attire changes as the music advances. We felt completely engrossed in the Sergeant Pepper years, with the band mates sporting their classic kooky uniforms. The hippie side of the band certainly comes out during songs like Here Comes the Sun, and we couldn’t help but feel almost shocked and afraid during I Am the Walrus and Octopus’s Garden.

Not only is The Beatles: Rock Band a joy to play, it's also worth watching, too. Of course, that’s a hard statement for many games to stand up to. After all, not many of us like sitting back and watching someone else play a videogame, but with the visual representations in The Beatles: Rock Band, you can find yourself getting lost just watching the TV as lush colors fill your eyes and leave your brain happily awaiting more.

Of course if you have to sit out a round, you won’t have to just watch. Since the game is all things Beatles, you’ll have an incredible set of songs to fill your ears. Yes, the music sounds good, even if you are not a Beatles fanatic. Casual fans will enjoy the many classics that grace the Blu-ray disc. The true diehard fans will go crazy for the wonderful set list; however, with 45 tracks, we would have liked to see a lot more songs on the disc. We know that means there’s plenty for us to download, and Harmonix was smart to leave out some highly in-demand tracks.

We ... (continued on next page)

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