Wii

North America

The Beatles: Rock Band

by Chuck Jose - September 21, 2009, 2:33 pm PDT
Total comments: 11

9

The best of both worlds combined into one fabulous package.

To even begin to describe the Beatles phenomenon would require much more space than this review will take. The Beatles will forever go down as one of the greatest and most influential bands of all time. For me, The Beatles were one of the first bands I ever heard. Even though their music was before my time I grew up listening to all their songs. For Harmonix to go and create The Beatles: Rock Band, instead of just adding their songs as DLC, shows the importance The Beatles had and the impact they left on all of us. This game truly is a labor of love and Harmonix has done The Beatles video game right.

First and foremost, this is a Beatles video game featuring only Beatles music. You won't be seeing songs from other bands like Guitar Hero Aerosmith or Metallica. Instead all you get is Beatles and Beatles alone. Unless you enjoy their music this game might not be for you, but even for someone who's never heard of The Beatles before can fall in love with their music after just several plays. There are, after all, 45 songs on the disc, ranging all throughout their entire recording career, so there's bound to be a song for everyone. The Beatles: Rock Band is also a standalone game that unfortunately can't interact with the other iterations of Rock Band. That basically means that the content in this game and the upcoming downloadable content won't work with Rock Band 1 or 2 and visa versa.

For players that just want to jump right in, there's both an online and offline Quickplay mode that allow for cooperative or competitive play with the entire track list unlocked (minus the last song). The competitive multiplayer is just the typical modes found in Rock Band such as Tug of War and Score Duel. The slick, stylized interface brings players to the gameplay easily. Just like the normal Rock Band interface, players just choose their instruments, their song and difficulty and begin playing, making the whole process nice and simple. There's even an option in the instrument selection to turn on "no-fail" mode removing the inconvenience of having to navigate through the options menu.

While a majority of most people's time will be with Quickplay, the main focus is with the Story mode. This mode takes you throughout The Beatles' career, starting with their beginnings at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England all the way to their final performance on top of Apple Corps. There's no accumulation of stars or fans to progress. All you have to do is beat several songs specific to the venue and time and you move on. You only have to play each song once, rather than the typical Rock Band formula of playing songs over and over. This allows players to fully enjoy each song without growing tired due to repetitive playing.

Each venue is stringed nicely with stylish cutscenes and prepares you for your next location. They provide images of the era The Beatles were experiencing. Apple Corps also provided additional images straight from the Apple Corps vault that can be unlocked throughout the Story mode. These photos chronicle The Beatles' history with each having a little blurb about itself. Not to mention, there's also six short videos to unlock. It's nice being able to hear the entire Beatles Christmas album in one of the videos which was only made available to members of the fan club. Also just about every song is included with audio before and after straight out of clips from announcers or studio recordings. There's nothing more exciting than hearing Paul count in before a song starts or for George to mess around on the guitar after a songs over.

All the songs have their own specific video accompanied with it that reflect the type of performance they would give at the time. Earlier songs such as "Eight Days a Week" and "Paperback Writer" feature a cheery tune with joyous Beatles and tons of screaming fans. The game even goes out to have the screaming drown out the music at times mimicking what would normally happen at a concert. The hud itself also adds to the whimsicalness with brightly colored notes and flowers flying everywhere. The mesh of music and art is unseen in any other game creating a very relaxing experience. You will actually notice the animations in the background more often than usual.

Halfway through their career The Beatles decided to stop touring and concentrate more on making albums at Abbey Road Studios. Watching visuals for songs performed in a studio would get tiresome so Harmonix created dreamscapes for each of these songs. These environments are custom-tailored for each song. Players are transported from the studio to a world filled with imagination. Being able to watching the Fab Four perform "Here Comes the Sun" on top of a hill with sun shining everywhere fully encapsulates the feeling one gets when listening to The Beatles. For "Yellow Submarine," the group performs underwater and for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Band," the band performs in a gazebo with flowers everywhere. These are just some of the amazing creative ideas that Harmonix had.

The gameplay is very similar to that seen in Rock Band 2. The drums, guitar, and bass all remain unchanged. One difference is the inability to create drum fills to activate the drum's star power. The fills are pre-determined this time around using the song's actual fills. This removes some of the creative freedom forcing you to play how The Beatles do. The biggest addition is the inclusion of vocal harmonies. Harmonix made an effort to include this feature due to the fact that The Beatles were well known for all their harmonies in a majority of their songs. Three players can each choose their own separate icon and up to three different lines can be displayed at any one point. You don't have to stick to one color allowing players to jump between parts. As long as each line is being sung players will still rack up points.

Vocal harmonies can be quite difficult so within the practice mode is a section to help players out. Alongside the vocal training is a drum trainer with beats to master entitled Beatle Beats. All 80 are straight from Ringo Starr's classic rhythms and are surprisingly difficult to master.

With the inclusion of harmonies, this allows for six people to play simultaneously. When gathering six people to play with though, there is a very noticeable drop in the framerate for the background video. Granted that so much is going on at once it would've been nice to see the same smoothness when playing with only one instrument. The graphics however are amazing and much better than that seen in Rock Band 2. Minus some lack of anti-aliasing it practically parallels the Xbox 360 and PS3 version. The use of the art style and pre-rendered videos paid off making the Wii version just as good as the rest.

Many fans have been longing to play the Beatles in Guitar Hero or Rock Band for quite some time now and Harmonix was able to deliver the right stuff. Granted that any game featuring The Beatles would automatically be a hit, Harmonix still went out to create an experience that belongs in the same vein as the band. The pure genius comes with the inclusion of vocal harmonies that create an even more authentic band experience. The artstyle and presentation also complement The Beatles greatly. At 59.99 it may be quite an investment (especially for a Wii game) but it most certainly is an investment well spent. Plus with the never ending list of potential Beatles songs to download, you'll be constantly coming back to play more. The Beatles are back and here to influence a whole new generation of people.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
9 10 8.5 9 8.5 9
Graphics
9

They are beautiful and simply amazing. The character models look as close as they can be to being the real Beatles and the dreamscapes give a very visceral experience.

Sound
10

There's a reason why The Beatles have lasted for a very long time. Their music is revolutionary and every note is heard in the game. To be able to hear screaming fans drown out your gameplay mimics exactly what it was like for The Beatles.

Control
8.5

The pickup of vocals can be shoddy when playing with more players but the other instruments play solidly.

Gameplay
9

It's the same Rock Band gameplay we've all grown to love. If you're an expert though, there's not much difficulty with these songs. The inclusion of vocal harmonies gives a nice, new challenge though.

Lastability
8.5

With only 45 songs, you'll find yourself playing through all of them faster than you'll think. The inclusion of DLC will make this game go a long way.

Final
9

Harmonix has gone above and beyond to create the ultimate Beatles video game. There's been a great attention to detail making sure that the game provides an experience that matches the magic of The Beatles. While there's not too much added beyond vocal harmonies, being able to play Beatles songs in Rock Band is finally here.

Summary

Pros
  • Perfectly blends art style with music
  • Six players can play at once
  • The Beatles have a huge amount of great songs
  • Vocal Harmonies
Cons
  • Framerate issues with large numbers of players
  • Lots of classic Beatles songs aren't on the default track list
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

SteleSeptember 21, 2009

6 players? Wow.  Not that I really want to buy more mics right now, but that's interesting.

Just waiting for the price drop, as I did with previous GH/RB games.  I love them, but I can stand waiting a couple months to get them for half price.  Still got lots of songs in RB2 to play.

thatguySeptember 22, 2009

This disgusts me.


He's not NWR_Skeeter8887?

EasyCureSeptember 23, 2009

Quote from: thatguy

This disgusts me.


He's not NWR_Skeeter8887?

You disgust me. I'm tired of your derailing of topics. I try not to let it bother me if its in the funhouse but christ, this is a talkback thread and your post was useless. In turn you're making my turn useless because I'm fed up of coming to this part of the forum to read other peoples insight on topics that might interest me and get nothing but stupid dribble that doesn't relate in ANY WAY to the topic at hand. Isn't derailing a thread against forum rules anyway? All it takes is ONE nonsense post to start a chain and before long we're talking about oranges when we should be discussing apples. Any other part of the forum and it wouldn't be such a big deal but c'mon man... this is what most visitors see first when it comes to our forum. They see stupid discussion like this in a news thread and they never bother signing up or checking out the rest of the forum to see we actually know our shit. Its shit like this thats killing the site because no new members join, and the few that do get scared away as soon as they do. WTF.

ANNNyway....

6 players huh? Thats pretty sweet. I'd probably never get 5 other people to jam with but then again, I wouldn't need 5. The friends I have that are really into these games are already playing guitar/bass parts and vocals anyway, and I do as well, so 6 players doing individual band duties isn't needed. Good thing too, my rooms cramped enough with all these little plastic instruments, finding room for 2 extra people to play them will be a nightmare :P

I really want this game but I also really don't want to pay full price for it. Too bad we'll (probably) never see any Beatles DLC that can be used with standard RB games. Dangit!

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterSeptember 23, 2009

One question: Can you play any of the instruments AND sing in harmony as well?

SteleSeptember 24, 2009

Well the Wii only supports 4 Wiimotes. So I guess you only have to have one for all 3 mics?  ???

The microphones are wired via USB, so they only take up one Wii Remote slot. (You need a Remote to make menu selections, but it can be shared among multiple microphones.)

And yes, you can play an instrument and sing at the same time. Whether you should is a different question... Obviously, a headset or microphone stand helps a lot. I got to try this recently and found it to be quite doable on the more familiar Beatles songs. You might want to knock down the guitar/bass/drum difficulty one notch below what you usually play at.

EasyCureOctober 01, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

The microphones are wired via USB, so they only take up one Wii Remote slot. (You need a Remote to make menu selections, but it can be shared among multiple microphones.)

And yes, you can play an instrument and sing at the same time. Whether you should is a different question... Obviously, a headset or microphone stand helps a lot. I got to try this recently and found it to be quite doable on the more familiar Beatles songs. You might want to knock down the guitar/bass/drum difficulty one notch below what you usually play at.

ONLY IF YOU SUCK!

Nah just kidding, thtas actually good advice if playing and singing isn't something you're used to. Only in recent years have I been able to do both using an actual guitar/bass and thought trying it out in guitar hero wouldn't be too different, but it is. Obviously having to keep your eyes open for the note chart is more difficult since most people don't have GH notes memorized like actual guitar chords. Along with Jonny's tip, be sure that if you're gonna attempt this, and dont want to fail horribly, you know the lyrics and melody of the song, so you can concentrate on hitting guitar/bass/drum notes properly instead of switching between the two.

Oh, and don't put your mic in your shirt pocket like the guest jazz pianist in my high school music class did once, cuz then you just look like a tool ;) Use a long lamp as a mic stand if you have to :P Luckily for me, I had a mic stand laying around so i'm set.

MorariOctober 04, 2009

This game is a rip-off. I love the Beatles, always have. I also generally enjoyed Rock Band 2, so I picked this up the other day. I beat the entire "Story Mode" in under three hours. There are barely fifty songs on the disc. If you want more than that, you have to purchase DLC that was released immediately afterward. Of course, having already paid an absorbent $60 for the game itself, being nickel and dimed by the developers for content that was deliberately left out is not an appealing concept. Hell, the Story Mode didn't even encompass anything more than playing the songs. The animated intro and outro to the mode was nice, but that was it. There was no story however. This game disappoints on many fronts, value only being the main factor. I would honestly have a hard time even recommending this to people who go ape-shit over anything Beatlemania related. This game is a poor cash-in. A more fully realized Story Mode might have made me feel differently, but as it stands, the lack of content and high price destroys any long-term fun to be had.

On the plus side however, the three-part harmonizing works pretty well and the Abbey Road "dreamscapes" show some good creativity on occasion.

EasyCureOctober 05, 2009

Thats actually really dissapointing to hear. I hoped the story mode would, you know, encompass the Beatles story from inception to break up somehow. Do they at least have those little fun-facts during loading screens to fill in that rather large gap?

MorariOctober 05, 2009

Unfortunately the Story Mode is ridiculously sterile. Having little factoids during loading screens certainly would have been nice. The most you get is unlockable photos between songs, tha tyou have to exit all the way back out to the main menu to even view. The mode is essentially worthless, especially given that exploring the Beatles' rich history is kind of the draw of the game for most people.

EasyCureOctober 05, 2009

Quote from: Morari

Unfortunately the Story Mode is ridiculously sterile. Having little factoids during loading screens certainly would have been nice. The most you get is unlockable photos between songs, tha tyou have to exit all the way back out to the main menu to even view. The mode is essentially worthless, especially given that exploring the Beatles' rich history is kind of the draw of the game for most people.

That was the biggest draw for me actually. It seems like a waste to me... Guess I'll be right to hold off on getting this.

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Genre Rhythm
Developer Harmonix
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: The Beatles: Rock Band
Release Sep 09, 2009
PublisherMTV Games
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