When I heard the announcement of The Beatles Rock Band, needless to say I was quite excited. Whether you like them or not, The Beatles changed the music world. I happen to be a fan, so my excitement was only checked by one lingering doubt: Would this iteration of the series simply be a re-designed version of the older Rock Band games?
The answer, for those of you who have probably read any review or had a hands-on with the game, is a resounding "no." Even at the most basic level, the 60's-inspired visuals and photographs do more than just make the game look pretty. These, in combination with the timeline of Story Mode, really do transport you back to another era. Seeing the appearances of each band member change over time gives the player a new lens in which to view the band's career--a view previously only observed by those old enough to have personally experienced the phenomena known as "Beatlesmania."
The art direction in this game is truly exceptional. Especially noticeable (as Nick Chester mentioned in his review) in the "dreamscape" levels, where the songs will start in Abbey Road recording studio and transport the player into a psychedelic kaleidoscope or an undersea land. My personal favorite would have to be Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends. The amount of work put into these environments is incredible, and the collaborative effort of Apple Corps and Harmonix in recreating the feeling of The Beatles as a visual aspect of the game is beyond words. The whimsical, surreal, and just plain beautiful worlds encompassed in the songs of The Beatles are well represented.
To be perfectly honest, playing The Beatles Rock Band could only be compared to my experience in The Beatles Museum in Liverpool. I felt as if I was looking through a window of time, seeing the faces of young boys becoming men; moving, growing, traveling, and changing as people. The main difference is that at the museum, I felt as if I was haunted by the faces and voices of happy ghosts; boys never knowing how the future would pull them apart. While playing The Beatles Rock Band, I felt as if I was experiencing the good times with them, carefree and ready to embrace the future. Both the Story Mode and unlockable content help in maintaining this feeling of actually existing in the time period.
I think what is truly unique about this game is that it really is more than a game: it's a full experience that draws you into the careers and lives of The Beatles. I don't by any means think this is a perfect game; in fact "hardcore" gamers might even complain about the title's lack of technical difficulty (outside of the new and challenging vocal harmony mode).
If you are a Beatles fan, a music fan, or a history fan, this is a serious must buy. This isn't just Rock Band. This is a music revival in the form of a living, breathing chapter of musical and pop culture history.
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