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I am going to be completely honest and come out and say that when I first heard that Harmonix (developer of Guitar Hero 1 and 2 as well as Rock Band 1 and 2) was going to develop a band-specific game I was kind of upset. The reason being Activision (who has developed all the Guitar Heros from Guitar Hero 3 on) has put out two full band games as of now and neither did the bands justice. So hearing that The Beatles were getting their own game was kind of off putting. My mind was changed after I saw a few trailers and started listening to The Beatles more.
The first thing that attracted me to The Beatles Rock Band was the setlist, which consists of 45 songs spanning The Beatles illustrious career. Starting with their debut album Please,Please Me, and ending with Let It Be. Harmonix also announced that Abbey Road , Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Rubber Soul will all be available as downloads for The Beatles Rock Band. The songs on disc and all of the downloadable content will only be playable on The Beatles Rock Band and not on Rock Band 1 and 2 like the other downloadable content Harmonix has released thus far. I have to admit that it was a bummer that I could not export the songs to the main series but I completely understand why they did not do that.
World Tour mode is taken out of The Beatles Rock Band in favor for a career progression following The Beatles from their first concert at the Cavern Club in Liverpool to their last concert atop the Apple Corps Rooftop venue. The majority of the career progression is not spent in venues, but in the famous Abbey Road Studio where The Beatles spent the latter half of their career recoding music. You may be wondering “the majority of the game takes place in a boring studio?”. Harmonix realized that sitting in Abbey Road Studio (as iconic as it is) would be pretty boring to look at. So they created some thing called a “dreamscape” for each song. A “dreamscape” is a video that plays in the background during a song. “Dreamscapes” have sometimes have something to do with a song and sometimes illiteratethe mood The Beatles were in while writing and recoding the song. My only gripe with the “dreamscapes” is that they are so good looking that it sometimes distracts me from the song.
Now on to the gameplay. If you have ever played Rock Band or Guitar Hero the gameplay is pretty much exactly the same. You hit notes as they scroll down the screen, and if you do so well you will rack up multipliers that will make each note you hit worth more points. Guitar and Bass are untouched ,gameplay wise, from Rock Band 2. Drum have a slight change which is that there are no more free form drum fills for activating overdrive (in The Beatles Rock Band called Beatlemania). Instead Beatlemania is activated by a single hit of the green pad. The biggest and most important change in gameplay comes with the addition with two and three part vocal harmonies. The addition of harmonies goes farther to replicate the experience of being apart of The Beatles. The majority of the songs that have harmonies (yes some songs do not have harmonies but only a handful) are three part harmonies, but some songs also have two part harmonies. My only problem with harmonies is that all parts have to be done on the same console, meaning that your friend from California can not sing harmonies with you who lives in New York. It kind of bums me out but its a minor inconvenience
I touched on graphics a little bit while I was talking about “dreamscapes”, but I feel I should go a little bit more in depth. The graphics in The Beatles Rock Band are astounding. First starting with The Beatles themselves The replication and animation of the on screen representation of The Fab Four is astonishing When you spend your time in Abbey Road Studio 2 the “dreamscapes” are all varied from song to song so it is not like you are seeing the same thing over and over.
If you are a fan of the Lads from Liverpool or a fan of music games in general you should pick this up right now. Also if you are new to music games (or you want to get your parents and grandparents involved) this is a great beginner. The songs are not up to par with the difficulty of the other music games on the market, but the quality and fun factor of playing the songs make up for the lack of difficulty. Overall this is a wonderful game and a breath of fresh air from the less then stellar band-specific of the past.