J JamesGames.com The Beatles Rock Band

The Beatles Rock Band

(Originally Posted 10/2009)
By: James Oppenheim | Created: 2012-05-22 13:31:26 | (Updated: 0000-00-00 00:00:00)
The Beatles RockBand (Harmonix $59.99, $249 with instruments) Get a piece of paper. At the top write Holiday Family Shopping List 2009. Put a #1 at the top of the page. Now write “The Beatles RockBand” next to it. That’s it. You’re done.

There is a perfect convergence of the best aspects of gaming here: skill, fun, creativity. The Beatles builds on the solid foundation of cooperative, musical play from last year’s RockBand and takes it to a higher level through new additions to game play, and (of course) fantastic music.

The amazing opening animated history of the Beatles is itself worthy of an award; in some ways they outdo the trippiest sections of Yellow Submarine; they both build on and explain the history of the Beatles.

Last year’s RockBand broke new ground in gaming, finding depth and breadth in the somewhat shallow plastic Guitar Hero experience. For the casual gamer, Karaoke modes meant you could join in even if you had never held a game controller. At the other end of the spectrum, others who didn’t mind putting in practice time, could learn to play a real drum set. The gaming experience could be experienced single player or as a fantastic social experience

The Beatles Rock Band improves on the model: Now to the mix of guitars, bass, and drums are added solo and backing vocals. Songs can be played by multiple players in the same room or over the internet. The nearly universal acceptance of the Beatles music across generations make it the natural party game, not just for boomers, but for the entire family. The game seems easier and more forgiving than the original RockBand, and that too, is appropriate to the “all you need is love” spirit of the music and game.

I tested the game on an Xbox 360, though it is available for all three of the major consoles.

The simultaneous release of this software and the complete, remastered mono and stereo CD sets has resulted in some negative press pushing back against the price. The fact is, if you already own Rock Band or Guitar Hero instruments you only need to get the software and perhaps a mike or two, making this game relatively reasonable. The game comes with over thirty songs, most of them genuine hits – though there are a few (like “Boys”), that felt like fill. Other songs will be release as downloadable content at an additional cost.

Graphics and music converge to create an experience that breaths with a nostalgically accurate verisimilitude. The drum patterns, in particular, feel just right; the way I practiced them over the decades playing on my “air” trap set. Getting a bunch of friends together to sing harmonies to these familiar, wonderful songs is the perfect gateway to the holiday season.

The Beatles RockBand is Number One with a Bullet!
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