Back to the gameplay: the nuts and bolts of the game are based on the Rock Band formula. There are a few minor improvements, such as improvements to hammer on/pull off chords, that have also been patched into Rock Band 2. For the most part, though, the actual gameplay is the same, albeit with a shiny new coat of paint. This is not a bad thing by any means, but I'd like to have seen some of the more co-op friendly features of Guitar Hero 5 included in this game. There is one stellar new addition, a major innovation, and it easily makes up for any of The Beatles Rock Band's shortcomings in this area.
The innovation I'm referring to is three part harmony on vocals. These harmonies are one of the Beatles' trademarks. If you have three microphones, up to three players can sing these different vocal parts. The Beatles Rock Band supports the wireless mics from Lips, so we were able to play around with this a bit. Harmonies are represented by different colored lines on the vocal track. Each singer is given their own scoring information at the end of a song. Obviously, this adds greatly to the feeling of co-op. Strumming plastic instruments at the right time with a buddy is one thing, but actually harmonizing your own voice with to friends' is entirely another. Best of all, harmony parts allow for six people to play the game at one time. This is a major plus for parties where everyone wants to play, but there are only so many instruments to go around. Before the game was released, I didn't think this feature would make too much difference in my enjoyment of the game, but I changed my mind after hands on experience.
While this review has been glowing so far, there are a few negatives that prevent The Beatles Rock Band from being all roses and sunshine. Foremost among these is the lack of compatibility with other Rock Band games. You cannot export these songs to your hard drive and add them to your Rock Band 2 collection. This is true of DLC for The Beatles Rock Band as well. There are technical reasons for this, due to the harmonies, but I can't help but wonder if licensing was the biggest factor in this decision. Another issue with the game is the length. There are a mere 45 songs on the disc, which is quite short compared to similar games. It's more of a quality vs. quantity issue, though, and there are few if any bad songs in the entire list. I was genuinely surprised that some of my favorites weren't included; they were likely saved back for inevitable future DLC. We did not obtain any of the new instruments for review, but they do seem expensive, given the fact that they have nothing new to offer save cosmetic differences.
Really, though, these are very minor complaints. In the area of gameplay, The Beatles Rock Band is a major innovator, with the harmony mechanic. That alone makes it an amazing game. But when you add in the production values, historical significance, and all the unlockable content, The Beatles Rock Band becomes more than just a great game; it's an unequalled overall experience. I don't see how any future band-centric games can hope to compare to it. It may not have the long term, wide ranging appeal of Rock Band 2, but The Beatles Rock Band is the best new music game this year.
The Co-Op Experience: Put your wigs on, and strap those guitars up high. The Fab Four invade your living room!Additional instruments include Harmony vocals. Up to three mics can be used at once.BackgroundThe Beatles arrive on the music video games scene. What more needs to be said? Track List Cavern Club I Saw Her Standing There Twist and Shout Do You Want to Know a Secret Boys Ed Sullivan Theater: I Want To Hold Your Hand Can't Buy Me Love A Hard Day's Night I Wanna Be Your Man Shea Stadium: I Feel Fine I'm Looking Through You Eight Days a Week If I Needed Someone Ticket to Ride Budokan: Drive My Car Day Tripper Paperback Writer Taxman And Your Bird Can Sing Abbey Road Dreamscapes: Yellow Submarine Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help from My Friends Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds Getting Better Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows Good Morning I Am The Walrus Hello, Goodbye Hey Bulldog Back in the USSR Dear Prudence While My Guitar Gently Weeps Helter Skelter Revolution Birthday Octopus's Garden Something Come Together Here Comes the Sun Rooftop Concert Dig a Pony Get Back Don't Let Me Down I've Got a Feeling I Want You (She's So Heavy) I Me Mine Encore The End
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.