I met The Beatles: Rock Band on my doorstep with mixed feelings. My mind raced as first date trepidation filled my head; I was excited but nervous. This would be a blind date for me. While I’m not completely ignorant of The Beatles, I’m as close to a blank slate as one can get. Luckily, this allows us to give a fresh perspective with our review. As EA and Harmonix have made clear, this game is all about the music.
The Beatles: Rock Band takes a retro route, returning its roots with a Guitar Hero-esque story mode following The Beatles’ rise to stardom. Instead of creating a band, traveling to various venues, and completing world tour in any order, The Beatles takes a linear route that fits well with the game’s focus. The story is divided into segments representing different parts of The Beatles’ career. Players begin with The Beatles’ early days with simple pop music, but as the game progresses and The Beatles’ music matures, more rhythmically challenging tunes become the focus. Each time a segment is completed, players view a short cutscene showing the elapse of time between the previous and next career segments.
One of the main gameplay changes with this iteration of Rock Band is the ability to sing harmonies. It’s a nice feature, as it expands the max players to six and adds another level of challenge for mastered vocalists. But as a whole, gameplay innovations take a back seat to atmosphere. Each venue keeps a unique Beatles feel, though the studio tracks really stand out. Each studio track has individually tailored backgrounds that compliment the songs. For example, during Octopus’ Garden, players travel beneath the sea for a unique and fun experience. Players also unlock Beatles images and other collectables as they progress – another nice touch.
My biggest concern was that one band would not hold my attention for a full game. However, the maturity and progression in The Beatles’ music makes it seem as if there are multiple bands in the game. Harmonix clearly put a large amount of time into the game, and it shows. While the game isn’t exactly revolutionary (So you say you want a revolution? -ED), it’s a labor of love for fans of The Beatles. Players interested in rhythm games and the Beatles can’t pass this by. However, those that don’t enjoy The Beatles should let it be.