The Beatles: Rock Band.

Friday, September 11th 09 at 2:45 pm Leave a comment

Guitar Hero was the first of the real music, plastic instruments. And since it first came out in 2005, they have wasted no time in churning out follow-up after follow-up. Guitar Hero 2 was a great improvement from the first; even some of the songs were the original versions. Since then, we have had: 80’s Encore (which was GH2 painted with some neon colours and spandex and included mostly songs from the 80’s best left in that decade), GH3: Legends of Rock (now featuring Slash! Tom Morello! And “boss fights”), World Tour (like Rock Band only not as cool because Rock Band did it first), Aerosmith (featuring some of this awesome band’s huge catalogue, but not near what it should have had. Bonus of poorly rendered bad members!), Metallica (which I have not played so I have nothing to say about it. LikeAerosmith, but with more metal.), and finally, Smash Hits (which was, what the hell, a bunch of songs from all the previous versions). Longest run-on sentence ever.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that the Guitar Hero franchise has been around for four years and instead of waiting patiently to give it’s devotees really quality musical entertainment, they’ve pretty much just saturated the market with versions that deserved a bit more attention and time than they were given.

The first Rock Band was released in late 2007 and reinvented the genre by adding drums, microphones and a bass guitar. Now all the geeks of the world could play together and pretend they were super bad ass rock stars, yes! Not to mention the fact that the graphics were insane and the song selection was huge and mostly originals. When it came to their first single band disc, the folks at EA really did the entire world a favour by locking down the greatest band in the world. The Beatles. Don’t get me wrong; I love Aerosmith, I like Metallica. But… it’s THE BEATLES. Well, “Beatles Day” (as I have dubbed 09.09.09) finally came and I was so excited, I gave myself a headache.

beatles-running

The Beatles Rock Band hosts a 45 song selection from the giant catalogue available (with lots of downloadable content to come), contains about 100 unlockable photos of the band throughout their career as well as audio clips and a rare Christmas album.

The game starts in the Cavern Club when they were all just babies and the “b” on Ringo’s drum had antenna. The songs are fast, poppy and fun – songs like Twist and Shout and Do You Want to Know a Secret. It is here, at this venue, the first level of the game – that the amount of cuteness that radiates from Paul McCartney’s young, precious (albeit digital) face as he shakes his head during his “oooh’s” is unbearable and completely distracting. It’s so cute that it makes my teeth hurt.

From Liverpool, the next stop is the Ed Sullivan show, where the set list includes Can’t Buy Me Love and I Want to Hold Your Hand. The recreation of the Sullivan set is spot on and it’s an added bonus to hear the actual sound bit of Ed introducing them, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles!” And the girls go wild. The next two venues are Shea Stadium and Budokan where we go from Eight Days a Week to  Paperback Writer to I Feel Fine to Taxman. The detail of the venues in insane, right down to huge fan signs clear at the back. Every girl we see screaming and giggling looks different from the last, but is an accurate representation of how girls dressed and wore their hair in the 60’s.

After Budokan, we enter the Abbey Road sessions, which covers the next four chapters and features some of the best selections of music in the game. But the best part of it, is the new dreamscapes that are the environment for each song. Each song starts and ends with the band performing in the Abbey Road studio – but in the middle, everything morphs into a psychedelic and beautiful worlds relevant to the song. For Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends we start in a field of flowers and people and as the song shifts, the stage lifts and turns into a hot air balloon and floats among the clouds. Here Comes the Sun, While my Guitar Gently Weeps and Something feature beautiful landscapes with hills, trees and flowers – and it seems on these George’s voice is especially sweet. I Am the Walrus gives us the band in the Magical Mystery Tour costumes, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a neon trip. The best moment of it is when John floats to the middle of the screen and stares right out at you as he sings. It almost seems like he’s right there because in those brief seconds he looks so real that he’s alive again. It’s beautiful.

Sgt. PeppersSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Octopus' gardenRingo takes the band underwater with Yellow Submarine and Octopus’s Garden.

revolutionRevolution

My favourite part of the game was the final chapter, the rooftop concert at Apple Corps in 1969. Like the earlier chapters of the game, it’s just like a live show with the band playing in a stunning recreation of the actual event. Dig a Pony and I Me Mine sound beautiful and playing I Want You (She’s So Heavy) gave me a new appreciation for how delicate and amazing it is. What I loved most though, was Don’t Let Me Down. Which is a such a simple song but so huge and soaring. It makes me feel infinite and full inside in such a beautiful way.

The game closes out, unlocking The End, with a stunning continuation and finale of the opening cinematic; with it’s cartoon style and vibrant colours. It’s gorgeous and perfect.

Unfortunately for me, I don’t have any real life geek friends to play with so I didn’t get to sing or have a Paul, I was only able to play the guitar/bass. I can only imagine how much more fun and awesome the game is with a full four piece ensemble, but as a solo guitar game, it’s great. The songs are just hard enough to keep it challenging and even though it’s a single band game, there’s so much variety in their sound that it doesn’t get boring. Of course, there’s lots of other songs I would have liked to have seen on it. But I guess that’s what DLC is for. The Beatles: Rock Band did not disappoint in the slightest. There’s lots of little details that are sure to make a die hard Beatles fan happy, and it’s a perfect mix of some of their best music to educate and satisfy the casual or new fan.

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Hands. Grandmother.

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