Sgt Pepper’s was an important LP, a defining albums of the sixties and my personal favorite from the Beatles’ catalog. It serves as a primer, a masterclass of sorts, of pop music in the second half of that decade, initially taking the listener through the saccharine basslines of "A Little Help From My Friends" before moving onto strains of the psychedelic (Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds), vaudeville (When I’m Sixty-Four) and oriental (Within You Without You). All of these styles were gaining traction in the period, mainly because the Fab Four brought them into mainstream pop. With the Sgt. Pepper’s DLC pack, your 1080 Microsoft points net you eight of the album’s eleven tracks, restoring everything left off of the Beatles: Rock Band disk. Simply having the songs is an achievement in itself–mainly because of the band’s disdain for digital formats–but that doesn’t necessarily make them fun to play.
While Sgt. Pepper’s may have just been an excuse to have The Beatles jig around in their wonderfully garish uniforms, it offers an audible shift in the context of the game that doesn’t always work. As experimental and progressive as the songs are, most of them are just too simple to play regardless of which difficulty you select. Sure, Harmonix could have added in needless complications to challenge frequent rhythm gamers, but I think that they’ve taken the right approach by emulating the band’s original note charts. Unfortunately, assembling my own Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band brought out the faults inherent to authenticity. At worst, it felt like a painful shoehorning of exemplary music into the Rock Band format. "Within You Without You" is where our group fell apart, as the track’s delicate, metered pace won’t fit everyone’s tastes. It got so bad that our guitarist made us promise to play "Livin’ On a Prayer" afterwords to cleanse the palette.
The poppier songs, unsurprisingly, proved to be the most endearing for the group. "When I’m Sixty-Four" stood out as the highlight, and "Lovely Rita" went down especially well. In terms of design, the note patterns are about as good as can be within the restraints of the music: little audio flourishes here and there are deftly weaved into the required inputs. Harmonix’s use of the kaleidoscope filter in their dreamscapes all feel very suitable during these tracks, an improvement over Abbey Road but not exemplary in any way.
In the end, you’ll appreciate Sgt. Pepper’s far more for its music than you ever would for its gameplay, but I would still recommend it to all Beatles: Rock Band owners.
|Our Rating for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band DLC|
An incredible experience despite its flaws