The Beatles: Rock Band - Cheat Happens Game Review
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The Beatles: Rock Band
Playstation 3, XBox 360, Wii

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Developer:
Harmonix Music Systems
Publisher: MTV Games
Rated: "T" for Teen



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     

When I was a kid, my family used to go out for ice cream and watch the planes take off at the airport. I still remember one trip where my dad turned to me as the opening notes of Hey Jude began to play and told me to pay attention. “This is the best band in the world,” he told me. Thus began my lifelong obsession with The Beatles.

Whether you think The Beatles: Rock Band is a masterpiece or a bit lacking will likely depend on if you yourself have some form of emotional connection with the four lads from Liverpool or if you think they’re just another band.  Playing more like an interactive documentary than a video game, it lacks a good portion of the features and depth that most games of the genre have, but it makes up for that in pure blissful fan-service.

You’ll spend most of your time in Beatles: Rock Band in the game’s story mode. Unlike the previous two Rock Band games, you won’t be forming a band and touring in a piece of junk bus; you’ll be reliving some of The Beatles’ biggest moments, and thus some of the biggest moments in history. It’s all here, from the group’s humble beginnings playing in Liverpool’s Cavern Club to the Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium and the famous Abbey Road Studio. These environments and characters are recreated with such loving detail that at times it was hard to focus on playing the music in the game. You appreciate some of the game’s art a bit more when you take into account that this is the first time many people are seeing certain environments like The Ed Sullivan Theatre in full color rather than their famous black and white imagery.

"These are some of the most recognizable figures in modern music..."

 
   

It must be noted that the game doesn’t have quite the robust set of features that earlier Rock Band games have. You won’t be able to create your own character or customize John Lennon’s look to be more “punk.” Notice I didn’t say that the game lacked these elements as they simply wouldn’t fit in the universe Harmonix has created. These are some of the most recognizable figures in modern music, and to tinker with their image wouldn’t work.

Truly my favorite part of the game’s story mode (along with a few other parts of the game) is the audio clips with each segment. You’ll hear the famous intro from The Ed Sullivan Show or the actual audio from the Shea Stadium concert.  The best part though is when you get to the later years in the band’s career, you’ll actually hear never before heard banter between the band members. It’s fascinating to hear this cornerstone of pop culture in ways we’ve never heard before.

Then again, that time period I talked about above, where the band stopped touring and focused on recording poises a bit of a problem with the Rock Band franchises’ core structure. The game is built on recreating the feeling of performing in front of an audience. Harmonix has managed to turn what could have been a major weak point in the game into a major highlight. When you get to the Abbey Road section of the game, each song starts in the studio but you’re soon transported into an elaborate dream (or is it drug?) sequence inspired by the song and the band’s imagery during that time period. It’s an incredible set of visual effects – though they sometimes do distract from the core gameplay.

"...luckily each song is a blast to play."

 
   

But – what would a game like Rock Band be without the music? At roughly 45 songs, the game’s set list is shorter than most Rock Band or Guitar Hero games, but luckily each song is a blast to play. It would have been easy for the developers to make the game a greatest hits collection for The Beatles, but there are a few major songs here missing in favor of a few that aren’t as well known but translate really well into the game’s mechanics. For instance you won’t find the song “Help!” But you will find heartfelt songs like “I’m looking through you” and “I me mine.” Luckily, Harmonix plans to release each Beatles album as downloadable content in the coming months, so the short track list can only grow.

Playing through The Beatles: Rock Band, you’ll earn photos of the band, most of which will be old hat to seasoned Beatle fans, but it’s a nice touch; what I really dug was unlocking the game’s “prizes.” These prizes include rare video clips of the band and hard to find audio tracks like the Beatles’ Christmas album, sent only to fan club members. Unless you’re a die-hard with a ton of money, or happen to know someone who managed to hold on to a copy from their original release, these gems will be new to many Beatles fans – and are an incredibly entertaining aspect of the game.

We’ve seen band specific music games before; but Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Metallica didn’t feel like this –The Beatles: Rock Band feels like a love letter in video game from. It’s a blast to play and Beatles’ fans will swoon over the nostalgia. If you’re a fan or the band or music games in general, this one is a no brainer. 

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Unlock Photos

As of this writing, there’s only one known cheat code available for The Beatles: Rock Band and it’s to unlock more photos.  Like I said earlier in the review, most of these photos are widely available, but there are a few gems here and there. Admittedly, I’m a fan of the band and I’m scoring the cheat factor a bit higher because of it. I love collecting the little pieces of nostalgia sprinkled throughout the game.

Really though, what other cheats could there be? All but one of the songs is accessible right out of the box, so you can’t unlock all songs. It’s best to experience The Beatles: Rock Band journey as it was meant to – as a love-letter to the band and their journey.

 

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