I’ve been excited about The Beatles: Rock Band since it was announced. To be fair, there is probably no one this game is more designed for than me. The Beatles have been my favorite band since childhood, and I think the record will show that I love Rock Band. Today, I finally got a chance to see it in action, as well as getting to play it myself.
Before my actual hands-on time, Coop and I were present at a demo of the game in which Harmonix developers and PR formed a band and played three songs from the game. They showed off the addition of having multiple singers at once (up to three), and the way the harmonies work together. Watching others play, I got a chance to get a good look at what else was happening onscreen during each song. As was previously made clear, historical venues at which the Beatles played have been recreated with fantastic attention to detail. However, in the case of downloadable content (particularly Abbey Road, one of my favorite albums ever, which will be the first full album download for the game), some of the more psychedelic songs didn’t fit in with any specific venue. For DLC, backgrounds have been created to match the song—under the sea for “Octopus’s Garden”, for example. It just goes to show that Harmonix really did create an entire interactive Beatles experience with this game, and I’m excited to play through their entire career.
One thing I do find a bit disheartening is the fact that there are only 45 songs in the game. Considering Rock Band 2 has 80, it just seems like there should be more. However, considering that unlike any music game previously released, I will already love every single song on the disc, maybe it’s not such a bad deal. Harmonix also made clear that they are trying to appeal to both hardcore fans and Beatles fans who have never played a music game. No Fail mode from Rock Band 2 returns, and setting someone’s difficulty to “easy” automatically puts that player in No Fail, so an inexperienced player jumping into a song won’t ruin everyone else’s fun.
After the presentation, I made my way to the nearest playable group of instruments and quickly forced my way onstage, picking up the replica Gretsh Duo Jet guitar made famous by George Harrison. The new guitars look and feel fantastic. I don’t know if they’re enough to make me buy Rock Band instruments all over again, but it is really tempting right now. The new instruments work with Rock Band and Rock Band 2, though DLC will not be compatible. It's worth mentioning that I found myself playing the Wii version, which still maintains the pleasant visual aesthetic of the 360 and PS3 versions.
There were ten songs on the demo we played, and the singer chose “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to start. That song just makes me ridiculously happy, and as soon as I started playing, I didn’t care about the number of songs or the cost of instruments or DLC. I was just having so much fun. That’s what this game is: sheer enjoyment for Beatles fans, especially Beatles fans who also happen to be Rock Band fans. Was there ever a chance I wouldn’t love this game? Not really.
I ended up staying onstage for another song, “I Saw Her Standing There”. When I hear that song, I can’t help myself—I just start dancing around and singing. The song is infectious. When I finally did get offstage, someone from Harmonix saw how much fun I was having and told me I should come back tomorrow. If I have any free moments in the next two days, you know where you can find me.
The Beatles: Rock Band will be out on 09.09.09 for the 360, PS3, and Wii, and you better believe I’ll be picking it up on day one.