By now you are likely to know what to expect from a Rock Band game, and I am sure you know if you are a fan of The Beatles or not. You could say that Harmonix and EA took a chance in releasing a band-specific game to compete with Guitar Hero 5, but when that band is one of the most successful and acclaimed bands in history, the pool of casual and hardcore (music) fans out there is pretty large.
It goes without saying, but the older you are, the more you will get out of The Beatles: Rock Band. Maybe this is the game to finally get you into the music/rhythm genre?
While The Beatles: Rock Band does sport a nice upgrade to the core Rock Band 2 interface, the aural and visual embellishments of this game stand apart from the plethora of other options on the market. Presented in chronological order (mostly), from The Cavern Club in 1963, to the Apple Corps Rooftop in 1969, you are treated to 45 tracks from The Beatles amazing career - no filler here. The selection of tracks in the game are pretty good, but I can think of three off the top of my head that should be included: "Hey Jude," "Let it Be," and "Yesterday."
Three chapters of the game are set in the Abbey Road Studio, and include "Dreamscapes" that represent the figurative and literal meanings of the songs. Dreamscapes were a means to an end for the game, and they nailed it. After all, how do you represent a bulk of the catalog after The Beatles stopped touring? The end result is sublime, psychedelic, and everything in between. Each starts out with the Fab Four in the Abbey Road Studio, then quickly transform into a music video of sorts that truly captures each song, from an octopus’s garden in "Octopus’s Garden" to those crazy animal suits from the Magical Mystery Tour album for "I Am The Walrus." They look great and add much to the experience of The Beatles, which is what this game is, more than anything.
The game's interface features a lot of small tweaks, such as allowing you to turn on Lefty Flip or No Fail Mode on the fly, without having to dig into an options menu. The biggest graphical change comes in the muted color palette of the note gems, it is a nice touch that feels right for the game. The only issue this color change presents is when Overdrive is activated, it is easy to miss Green and Yellow notes as the colors blend into the Note Highway, which turns yellow when you use Overdrive. It means you may have to pay more attention to the notes falling than in prior games, but I still miss Green notes once in a while because the shades of color are so close together.
Rounding out the new gameplay features is the game's vocals, as songs have two or three harmonies. This means in one song you can have a three-part harmony, something The Beatles were known for, and it is pulled off well. Technically, it is an achievement for the game, and singing them is no small miracle either. Each singer has their own indicator on screen, with harmony vocals showing up above the scrolling track. This will of course require three microphones. It is a good thing those Lips mics are now compatible, because unlike previous Rock Band games, an Xbox 360 headset does not register as a mic. It seems clear this was a move to sell more microphones, and leaves you without a hands-free option to play an instrument and sing at the same time.