With the multitude of music based games released in the last few years, especially ones focused on a single band, it comes as little surprise that arguably one of the best rock groups of all time should receive their own game. "The Beatles: Rock Band," developed by Harmonix and published by MTV Games allows players to jump into the skin of John, Paul, George and Ringo to experience the career of how the legends came to be.
While game play remains mostly unchanged compared to previous versions of "Rock Band," there are some unique new additions to give the game some Beatles flavor. Instead of the traditional career mode, players will take a trip through the expansive history of the band in various chapters and see many iterations of the group in between. Venues include places such as "The Ed Sullivan Show," where the band was first introduced to American audiences, Shea Stadium, the first ever show of its kind, The Budokan in Tokyo, and even the Apple rooftop concert which was the band’s last live show.
However, because the Beatles produced many more hits in the Abbey Road Studios, the rest of the songs are played in "Dreamscapes." These are visual representations of certain songs relative to the lyrics or subject matter. For example, "Octopus’s Garden" takes place under the sea and "I am the Walrus," has the group in walrus masks. Roughly half of the songs take place in the dreamscapes and the rest at the different locales, with 45 songs in total. This number may seem a bit low compared to the band’s comprehensive catalogue, but Beatles fans and newcomers alike should find something they enjoy and perhaps discover some new favorites. To remedy the problem somewhat, downloadable content of different albums will be released in the future, starting with the rest of "Abbey Road" and "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band."
One of the biggest new additions to the game is the three part vocal harmonies that the Beatles are famous for. Players can use up to three microphones on one controller as well as play drums, bass, and guitar, effectively allowing a six person band. Singing specific pitches are not required though, as the main vocal track can be used. Also new is "Beatlemania" mode, which is similar to the "Overdrive" mode of past Rock Band games. There are also new controllers for the game modeled after the Rickenbacker 325 and Gretsch Duo Jet guitars, the Höfner 500/1 bass, and Ludwig drums, although no new functionality is added.
Overall the game looks and sounds amazing and is made even better by the little unlockable pieces of band memorabilia. Rare photos, album covers, and even radio chatter sessions are a nice addition for fans or players looking to learn a bit more about the stars. The game may not be as challenging to more experienced players due to the Beatles style, but the music is about having a good time. Anyone looking to play the classics, learn more about the Beatles, or just enjoy the music should definitely pick this game up and jam "Eight Days a Week."