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The Beatles: Rock Band Review (X360)

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


The Beatles: Rock Band Review (X360)
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the deal. The Beatles are the greatest rock band ever. EA, MTV, and Harmonix struck a deal with Apple Corps to create a videogame worthy of the band, and the result is The Beatles: Rock Band. A game that matches 45 of the band’s songs with amazing presentation that relives some of the greatest moments of the Fab Four. For Beatles fans, this is pretty much the best thing ever. Find out all of the details right here.
Game Details

  • Publisher: EA, MTV Games
  • Developer: Harmonix
  • Also On: PS3, Wii
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Music/Rhythm
  • Pros: Great presentation; dreamscapes; nice song list; great for casual players
  • Cons: Ridiculously simple and easy note charts; less than 3 hours of music

The Beatles: Rock Band is a full-band music/rhythm game where you can play guitar, bass, drums, sing, and even harmonize with your friends and family. There are 45 songs (see full song list here) that span the band’s entire career. Each song is played on a special stage that represents either a real world location the band played in (Ed Sullivan Show, Shea Stadium, etc.) or a special “dreamscape” inspired by the song itself. Playing the Ed Sullivan Show is amazing, but the dreamscapes are really something special and the best part of the presentation. The career mode takes you through the band’s career in chronological order, and it is a pretty neat little history lesson.

Not so neat is the fact that there is less than 3 hours of music to play here. More songs are coming as DLC (you can download "All You Need Is Love" for $2 today and 100% of the money goes to Doctors Without Borders, so download it), but for $60 it is hard not to expect a little more content than what we got. Secondly, the song list is great, but there are a lot of other great songs that weren’t included. I’m not a huge Beatles fan by any stretch, but even I can think of a bunch of songs off the top of my head that I want to play that aren’t here.


The gameplay is pretty much your standard plastic instrument music/rhythm game fare. Notes scroll down the screen and you have to press the right buttons on the guitar or hit the right pads on the drums. It is pretty easy to figure out, and practice mode or making use of “no fail” mode ensures that players of all skill levels and play and have fun. That really is the key to The Beatles: Rock Band in that it is a game designed for everyone to play. Your parents or grandparents grew up with the Beatles and experienced all of these songs and venues and everything else when they were really happening, so to be able to relive it all and play along in the game is going to be hard to resist. Guitar Hero and previous Rock Band games sort of had this effect, but not like the Beatles will. Believe me. This is a game the whole family is going to play.

The Beatles: Rock Band is easily the most accessible music/rhythm game yet thanks not only to the familiar list of songs, but the gameplay itself. It is, well, easy as Hell. Great for Dad and Grandma, but not so good for longtime fans of these games. The note charts are simple and repetitive and easy and kind of boring even on expert and I’m not a fan of playing non-guitar parts on guitar (piano, trumpet, other instruments in general) which happens quite often. The songs are good, but playing them isn’t that fun if you are just playing by yourself. Playing guitar and singing at the same time helps a lot in keeping it interesting.

Of course, playing by yourself isn’t how the game was meant to be played, and if you can get a room of people together to play the game it is pretty darn amazing. You really feel like a band, like a coherent unit, even more so than in other full band videogames. The vocal harmonies really help out in this regard. The singing is pretty simple – the words scroll across the top of the screen along with a line showing you where your pitch should be, and you just sing and try to hit that pitch. The 2 and 3 part harmonies are represented visually along with the normal lyrics so everyone knows when to jump in and sing. It is easy to get into and a heck of a lot of fun. You have to have three microphones (plus stands if you want to play guitar or drums at the same time) so it can be kind of a logistical mess to put it all together, but when you do it is worth it.


The graphics in Beatles: Rock Band are really something special. The dreamscapes and venues you play in during songs are great, and the characters, while kind of stylized, are still pretty much perfect. Even the menus are polished and great looking.


The sound is as good as you could possibly expect. Basically, these songs haven’t ever sounded better than they do here other than that new remastered albums that were released alongside the game. Everything is clean and clear where it should be, but still kind of static-y and distorted where it should be. It sounds great.

Bottom Line

Despite all of the praise and a few criticisms you can give the game, it still ultimately comes down to the simple fact that the Beatles were a great band and the game is good because of that. If you aren’t already a fan, the game will help to make you one. And if you are already a fan, then this is probably the coolest videogame ever. Having more songs would have made it better and you can’t deny that the songs are pretty simple and easy (and kind of boring to play), but they sound good and playing with your friends and family makes for a pretty amazing experience overall. If you are going to play it by yourself I don’t think it is as appealing (just buy the CDs and enjoy the music that way) but if you have friends and family to play with The Beatles: Rock Band is highly recommended for a purchase.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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