We are a mere three months away from what could possibly be the best thing to come out in the rhythm genre since Harmonix first introduced unveiled the full-band rhythm game. Taking a page from Guitar Hero’s book, Rock Band will have its first true band-centric expansion, with The Beatles: Rock Band. The Beatles: Rock Band is exactly what it sounds like…a Rock Band game focusing entirely on the world’s greatest band, The Beatles. As if that wasn’t enough, there are many other things to make this game noteworthy.
While Rock Band technically already has a band-centric installment, Rock Band AC/DC Live Track Pack…that didn’t really count. It was just a track pack. For the first time ever, The Beatles: Rock Band brings you a new, customized Rock Band experience in the same niche as Guitar Hero Aerosmith and Guitar Hero Metallica. In The Beatles, you will take up guitar, bass, drums or a mic and play the part of one of The Beatles’ Fab Four; George, Paul, John or Ringo. Like the band-centric Guitar Hero titles, The Beatles has you play through the band’s actual career, unlocking songs based on chronology, rather than difficulty. You’ll follow them through time and visit all their most iconic venues- Abbey Road, the Ed Sullivan Show and even the famous rooftop concert. Along with the career mode, it will also contain all the standard modes you would expect like quick play, online band playing and practice mode. While the gameplay remains almost identical to any other full-band title thus far, there is one important addition…multiple singers. If you’ve ever listened to a Beatles song, odds are you heard some serious blending of harmony and melody. The Beatles: Rock Band looks to replicate this by allowing up to three singers to grab a microphone and sing along. The on-screen representation for this is similar to the “vocal paths” found in Rock Band 2. But unlike Rock Band 2, The Beatles shows multiple paths, with different colors for each singer, simultaneously scrolling down the track.
As with Rock Band 1 and 2, The Beatles: Rock Band will be available in both bundle and in solo form. Four custom instruments have been made for the game, including Sir Paul McCartney’s trademark Höfner bass, Ringo Starr’s drums with classic black oyster pearl finish and Ludwig-branded Beatles kick drum head, George Harrison’s Gretsch Duo Jet and John Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325. The “Special Edition” bundle will come with the bass, drums, microphone and a microphone stand. Unfortunately, both guitars are sold separately. As with Rock Band 2, Harmonix put a great deal of effort, and takes a great deal of pride in the fact that The Beatles will be compatible with all instrument peripherals currently on the market. If you’re like me, though, you’re counting the days until the new guitars come out (I’m seriously in love with that Gretsch).
While all this sounds great, there is one particularly notable omission. We all remember the generous stroke of genius that was the ability to load the entire Rock Band 1 soundtrack into Rock Band 2, and the subsequent ability to do so with the disk-based Track Packs available at retail. Unfortunately for established Rock Band players, this feature is not available in The Beatles. Even worse, this exclusivity also carries over into the downloadable tracks. While some wonderful DLC is slated for the game (full albums, the entirety of Abbey Road and many others) your Beatles songs are forever locked away in The Beatles: Rock Band, forever separated from your modest mice, your killers and your pearl jamming. As a random note, I personally hope they release Sir George Martin’s version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the “Love” Cirque du Soleil.
The Beatles: Rock Band ships September 9 and will be available for XBox 360, PS3 and Wii. You can buy the disk alone for $60 (that includes the Wii version, too), or buy the bundle for $250. The Rickenbacker and Gretsch guitars will retail alone for $100. No word on DLC costs, but they are likely to keep the standard $2 per song, with a discount for buying packs. Stick with MyGamer for future updates as they come.