Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let It Beatles!

I was and am not a huge Beatles fan despite knowing quite a few of them. Growing up, I'd hear the songs on the radio or sung around the house and they did nothing because they, in my mind, lacked the flair of Michael Jackson or Van Halen. In college, a classmate was shocked that I didn't like them and made me two mixtapes of their work which got me more into them and introduced me to one of my few favorite Beatles songs ("Don't Let Me Down"). Then I heard about The Beatles: Rock Band. I thought it was cool and interesting idea. Then I played the game...

Long story short, this game is nothing short of amazing. The details, the imagery, the difficulty, and the Apple rooftop add to one of the best experiences you'll ever have playing Rock Band. If you're a fan of The Beatles, this is the perfect gift for you. If you are not, there's plenty for you to enjoy and will probably become one in the process.

The game follows the timeline of the band from 1962-70 in which they become a local sensation, deafen American households with the sounds of screaming teenage girls, play stadiums, become a studio band, grow facial hair and rock rooftops. It is during this time, you have 45 songs to perform all of varying degree of difficulty with the earlier material being challenging on bass and the later material just being hard overall especially on drums, vocals and bass. All of which are really fun to play.

There are two new features that transform this game from the regular Rock Band to well, this. One is the addition of vocal harmonies which is something that Rock Band has needed since the first edition ("Gimme Shelter," "Pinball Wizard," "Go Your Own Way") and if any game were to have it, this is it. Since most of the songs have 2-3 vocal harmonies, any one of the vocalists can take the lead while the other two provide harmonies. This is a feature that will hopefully find its way into future editions of the Rock Band series

Since The Beatles stopped touring and became a studio band, you get dreamscapes to serve as the performance representations of the band during that period. Each of the dreamscapes are beautifully created and offer some of the most creative and interesting visuals on a Rock Band game. Each visual is based on an element to the song, whether it's the lyrics or a promotional video of the song. The songs will begin in Abbey Road only to magically transport the band to other places and/or backdrops to supplement the recordings. If "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" ever show up as downloadable content, the dreamscape for these tracks, provided they have them, are probably going to be incredible. Also, points to you if you're not freaking out while playing "I Am The Walrus."

Essentially, this is a game made by fans of The Beatles as a tribute to one of the most influential bands in the history of music and yes, on the surface, it would appeal more the band's fans. The game, however, will appeal to their fans, Rock Band fans and anyone who wants a very enjoyable gaming experience with some memorable songs to enjoy while you play. If there is one gripe I have with the game, it's the length of the game. As of now, there are only 45 songs and you could breeze through the story in a few hours but given the challenge of unlocking all the videos and pictures, you'll be playing this game for awhile. Soon, there will be full albums and singles for download soon starting with "All you Need Is Love" and will continue with the full album releases of Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Rubber Soul which will keep the game within arm's reach for awhile. The Beatles: Rock Band is a great way to introduce newer generations to the band and their material and is fun way to spend the day. Besides, would you rather sing "Paperback Writer" along with the radio or would you rather grab 3-5 friends and perform it at Budokan?

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