Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beatles Rock Band Impressions

It arrived around lunchtime today. Once I got around to putting it in (I did have some work to do, after all) I did so with the intention of playing just a venue or two. A few hours later and I’d played the story mode from beginning to end without stopping. I just couldn’t help myself; it’s that good.

Historically, I’m not nearly the Beatles fan Bill is, but the lead-up to this game put me on the road and the game has finished the job. There is just so much love in the design of this game and it shines through at every possible opportunity. What a great way to be indoctrinated into Beatles music and lore. Over the next couple weeks I expect to dive head first into every nook and cranny this game has to offer.

In terms of gameplay, yes, you could boil it down to being generic Rock Band with a Beatles skin. The actual gameplay is pretty standard Rock Band fair, but the presentation, the direction, the mise en scene (if you will allow) is just so utterly wonderful. Seriously, it is. It’s wonderful. Even forgetting about the bands involved this puts Activision’s “efforts” with GH Aerosmith and GH Metallica to shame. Speaking of which, if you’re one of those that can’t see the difference between how Lennon and Harrison are treated in this game compared to Activision’s handling of Cobain, all I can I can say is there aren’t words to describe how out of whack that notion is. I submit into evidence Beatles Rock Band’s final venue, a concert atop the Abbey Road studio (see the pic above). If I ever track down a video of it, I’ll embed it here. It’s just amazing.

Anyway, some early picks for favorite tracks in the game:

5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps

4. Revolution

3. Octopus’s Garden

2. Here Comes the Sun

1. Paperback Writer

That’ll probably change quite a bit as I expose myself to this some more, but off the cuff that’s the list. (It’s also influenced by the fact that the one Beatles album I have listened to quite a bit –all this summer- is Abbey Road.)

A couple notes about the special edition hardware before I wrap this up. My old stuff consisted of wired RB1 drums and guitar and a GH3 guitar. The Beatles SE offers a mic (and stand), wireless bass and drums. The mic stand seems nice enough. I mean it’s a mic stand, right? The mic appears to be a standard wired Rock Band mic. The drums are clearly nicer than the RB1 drums. I haven’t played with them yet, but I can tell they’re quieter and they seem better made in general. They’re probably really no different in construction from the RB2 drums. The Hofner Bass is just lovely. It’s just an attractive piece. It’s got a longer neck than my RB1 axe, but that didn’t both me at all. The strummer is much stiffer, which I like a lot. I have a much better time hitting repetitive sequences with this strummer than with my old one. The fret buttons are still mushy crap; they’re my only complaint. You’d think they could do better after all this time.

Is the set worth a cool $250? No. It’s really not. Fortunately, my Amazon credits knocked a $100 off the price and my Gameshark freelancing the past two months covered the rest. Given that and the fact that I needed a hardware refresh, I’m still glad I got the special edition. I would love to get one of those $100 lead guitars, but even if I had the cash it would be hard to justify any more expense at this point.

To sum up, my initial verdict: A+++. This is how you do a band themed music/rhythm game right!