The Beatles: Rock Band has been playable at E3 this week. So, being fans of both The Beatles and Rock Band, we figured we'd go check it out.
Thing is, while "we" may be fans of The Beatles, "I" am not. I don't hate them, just…never got into them. Which puts me in a unique position! Since I wouldn't be gushing over simply getting to play a music game as The Beatles, I could take a good, hard look past the fanboyism and see how the game itself is shaping up.
What Is It?
It's Rock Band. Starring The Beatles. You play as them, you play their songs, you play at famous venues that hosted the band, you even get to use real-life imitations of their real instruments. For a Beatles fan, it probably doesn't get much better than this.
What We Saw
We first saw a band made up of Harmonix staffers and Rock Band community members play a few songs, then we were free to go rock out on instruments, and songs, of our choosing.
I played through "Here Comes The Sun" on guitar and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" on bass.
How Far Along Is It?
The game is out in only a few months (September), and it shows. It's pretty much done.
What Needs Improvement?
Spice Of Life : From what I saw, the gameplay needed a little more to differentiate it from vanilla Rock Band. There are some cool extra touches to the game, like "dream" sequences playing in the background of some of the band's stranger, later songs, and overall career progression – which we couldn't take a look at today – probably has a few surprises in store as well.
But playing both those songs, it just felt like…Rock Band, only playing Beatles songs. Same mechanics, same display, same instruments. It's instantly familiar. Perhaps a little too familiar.
What Should Stay The Same?
Crazed Fans: Harmonix have gone OTT as far as authenticity goes, with each set, band member and instrument recreated perfectly in-game. There's even cute little touches you don't notice the first time around, like the fact the songs retain the original "warmup" banter between the band members.
For Beatles fans, this is the kind of thing that will have them screaming like teenage girls on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Instrumentation: On the one hand, I'm slightly disappointed that the build quality of The Beatles instruments seems no better than for regular Rock Band peripherals, especially given the game's premium price. Be prepared: they're not quite as classy as they appear in Harmonix's promo shots.
But you know what? That doesn't really matter. They're no worse than Rock Band peripherals. And these are plastic instruments that are perfect replicas of the actual instruments The Beatles used, right down to the logos and paint schemes. That'll be more than enough for most Beatles fans.
Harmonix didn't need to reinvent the wheel with this one. Just stick some Beatles stuff over the top of the existing Rock Band and count the money. And that's exactly what they'll be doing in a few month's time.
Still, we'd have liked it if, like The Beatles themselves, the developers had gone a little bonkers towards the end and tried something slightly different, slightly crazy. Because, hey, it worked for The Beatles.