So, The Beatles: Rock Band is here, and I can happily report that it’s just as awesome as I hoped for. I fired it up the story mode last night, and within three hours I’d finished the whole thing, mostly on guitar/bass, but with a chunk of singing in the middle as well. At it’s core, it’s what you’d expect — Rock Band with Beatles songs — but what sets it apart from the earlier Rock Band games is the incredible amount of care and attention that’s gone in to it. It’s an amazing game to look at, from the song visuals themselves through to the photo-collage videos that bridge between the game’s different venues and eras.
All of the modeled venues look great, but the really impressive stuff is in the “dreamscape” sequences, which are used for the songs performed at the Abbey Road studios. Most of these start with the band in the studio, but then transition in to idealised performances in surreal, and sometimes very trippy, settings, and each of the songs set in Abbey Road (nearly half the game) has its own dedicated sequence. There’s also a tonne of unlockable Beatles memorabilia to check out, such as photos and videos.
There’s one genuinely new feature in this game over previous Rock Band games, and that’s the vocal harmony system, which lets you have up to three vocalists singing at once. Harmonix has been very clever with this — anyone can sing to any vocal line at any time, so all three vocalists can just sing the lead if they want, but if you do choose to harmonise and you pull it off, you get bonus points. It also supports the Lips mics on the 360 (and the Singstar mics on the PS3), so I already have three mics ready to go.
So, as both a love-letter to The Beatles and a super-fun party game, The Beatles: Rock Band definitely delivers. The only thing that could improve it is a greater selection of songs, but with the amount of work that’s gone in to each of the game’s 45 songs, I think it’s good value out-of-the-box. Besides, DLC is coming — all of Abbey Road will be downloadable for a fee on October 20, with Sgt Pepper’s following in November and Rubber Soul in December.