- LATIN AMERICA
- MIDDLE EAST
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- iHaveNet.com: Video Games
What's Hot: Excellent slate of songs; Graphics nearly perfect; Later songs a true challenge
What's Not: It's very Beatles Lite; Needs more history; Some too-difficult Achievements
Crispy Gamer Says: Buy
"Shoot me. Shoot me. Shoot me."
-- "Come Together," The Beatles; John Lennon, vocals
Number 9. Number 9. Number 9. I get it. Release day, 9/9/09, is a reference to "Revolution 9," the noisy, avant-garde, chaos-filled Beatles song on "The White Album." At eight minutes, it's the longest John, Paul, George and Ringo song ever published (the longest unreleased song is "Carnival of Light"). You have to be a fan to know that.
In life, you're either a Rolling Stones person or a Beatles person. I'm proudly the latter, a semicomplete fan of The Beatles from way back; jealous when I heard my music editor saw them in Toronto as a kid, sometimes dreaming of them after I'd read the latest biography in the cottage industry that is Fab Four tomes. I'm one of the minions who was utterly devastated when sports analyst Howard Cosell, on
So I wasn't sure The Beatles were the best fit for a music game. Would "The Beatles: Rock Band" sully the name of the most iconic of rock groups? How on earth could Harmonix do it right? Is it sacrilege that the Beatles: Rock Band commercial is everywhere -- that
And who will buy it? A recent
As of the end of August, "The Beatles: Rock Band" wasn't in the top 20 preorders at
Yet I don't think the majority of gamers or Beatles fans really care about the marketing of the game, or how it was made. Dan Radosh, the journalist-turned-"Daily Show" writer who penned the thoughtful, 8,000-word
"The Beatles: Rock Band" is spread out on my Iranian rug like the big present on
I put the game through every kind of test I can think of. You're supposed to be able to play the game with almost any peripheral. From the back of the closet, I find and hook up a "High School Musical" game microphone, and it works fine. I add a Gibson guitar from probably the first "Guitar Hero." Again, it performs well, even though the Gibson has one set of fret buttons. (The Hofner bass guitar has two complete sets of fret boards, and it's somewhat easier to play.)
I have four people over for my Beatles fest, two of whom have never indulged in a music-based game. They get it. We have rollicking fun. We laugh as we play, just as we marvel at some of the more stunning videos Harmonix attached to the music, like that for "I Am the Walrus." One of my bugaboos about games in general is that designers never get the human articulatory phonetics right. Here, the lips and mouths move exactly as they would in real life, a small miracle.
Still, there's no new music from the archives. I mean, there must be more unreleased demos in that dusty vault. More, this is unrepentantly Beatles Lite -- a Disneyesque, sanitized version of Beatles history that never pretends to be, say,
I'm not saying that everyone has to delve into the intricacies of John's youthful statement that the band was more popular than Jesus Christ, or indulge in the tabloidlike exploits of The Beatles as lovers and drug experimenters. But when you play "My Guitar Gently Weeps" and George Harrison is playing guitar in the Beatles: Rock Band video, there should be a footnote that says the guitar solo on the "White Album" version of the song is really a fine collaboration with Eric Clapton. (Don't believe it? Clapton and Harrison recorded a live version of the song in 1992.) What you do get are photos with anecdotal, almost banal blurbs in Story mode, the first of which is about the candy the Beatles preferred. It should have been about why they chose the name "The Beatles," don't you think?
So there does need to be more honest, informative history here -- in words. But the videogame industry, which I love, rarely cares enough about words or, for that matter, intellectual depth. That has to change at least a little in the future, or the industry will never be taken seriously by smart, maturing gamers and by those who create other popular art in movies, music and books. Why couldn't
All of this is not to say I believe that "The Beatles: Rock Band" isn't one generally terrific piece of musical escapism and entertainment. It's the most alluring rhythm-oriented music game ever made, and only a Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd music game would rival it (inside word is that there will be an announcement soon, regarding one of these other bands). Of this, there's no doubt: "The Beatles: Rock Band" takes you on a magical mystery tour. Forget playing at the
But it's not, as the erudite yet overly enthusiastic critic said in The
If "The Beatles: Rock Band" sells as predicted (a big "if," since sales of music-based games are down 46-percent this year, according to the
This review is based on a Limited Edition retail version of the Xbox 360 provided by the publisher.
Article: Copyright © iHaveNet
Video Games: The Beatles: Rock Band - Xbox 360
Article: Copyright © Tribune Media Services