Review: The Beatles: Rock Band

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Tech

In my opinion, the recent development of popular music-oriented games, such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, is due to the social aspects of said games. The first time I tried playing Guitar Hero was in the basement of my house by myself. I didn’t get it: a color came on the screen and I pressed the corresponding button on the guitar controller. Boring. This was a video game — where were the exploding alien heads and magic swords? I was not enthused and somewhat disillusioned about the game.

The next time I tried to play was at college with an apartment full of people. The experience was quite different. Instead of playing “Suck My Kiss” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers alone in my basement, I was singing along with a dozen other people as Steve Perry told me that I should never stop believing. People like playing Rock Band for the same reason they like singing karaoke: It’s a social experience. You and three of your friends get to jam along to some of your favorite tunes. For this reason, I’ve found that the most fun songs to play in such games are the more well-known songs that everyone can sing along to, such as Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” or Bon Jovi’s “Living On A Prayer.” So it seems like a no brainer that a Rock Band game based solely on the songs of 1960s supergroup the Beatles would make for a great party game.

The Beatles: Rock Band allows you and your friends to sing along to some of the band’s most well known (and some lesser known) tunes. The game’s story mode allows you to play at some of the Beatles most famous events, including their famous 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan show and their legendary final concert on the roof of the Apple building in London. The visuals in the game are very impressive. Depending on the era of the song you are playing, the band’s appearance changes to fit the time period. For the songs from the “studio years,” the game’s visuals fit the more psychedelic style of the songs with trippy images of the band inside a yellow submarine or in their infamous Sgt. Pepper’s outfits.

One of the games downfalls is its low level of difficulty. More experienced Rock Band players will find most of the songs to be fairly easy, even on expert level. The song list is also one of the strengths and weaknesses of the game. While its great to play some of the Beatles’ classic songs with your friends, there are some glaring emmisions from the song list: “Help!,” “Yesterday,” “Let It Be,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and more of their best songs aren’t included.

The game does feature downloadable content — the rest of the Abbey Road album will soon be available for download at a price of $16, soon to be followed by the rest of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Rubber Soul. Also, the song “All You Need Is Love” is currently available for download in the Xbox 360 marketplace; However, this is angering for PS3 and Wii owners, who aren’t able to purchase the song because it is unavailable on their platform. The game does work on all existing Rock Band controllers but, if you have the money to spend, the special Beatles controllers look awesome and will most definitely impress.

All in all, the game is a blast to play. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a room full of people singing along to “Twist And Shout” as Rhombus Magazine’s illustrious editor does his best Ferris Bueller impression. I give the game 4 out of 5 Yellow Submarines.

Ben Wagner is a tech correspondent for Rhombus. He also plays a mean fake guitar. You can follow him on Twitter @ben_wagner.

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