The Beatles: Rock Band – hands-on

For better or worse, in what we’ve played, everything from John and Paul’s vocal harmonies to Ringo’s drum patterns has been faithfully translated into the Rock Band interface. On Expert mode, you’ll have to be on your toes to catch the little details in the master track performances. If, for instance, Ringo switches his drum pattern from a two-feel for a measure and a half just for fun, or misses a single cymbal tap, prepare to have to switch up your playing to match him. It’s nice that there’s variety in the parts (their early arrangements would get pretty repetitive otherwise), but those looking to string a 100 percent combo will likely get tripped up a couple times.

It should also be noted that on drums, you won’t be able to do extended fills to activate your Overdrive. This is out of respect for the Beatles’ master recordings, which Apple (The Beatles’ record label) doesn’t like people to mess with. Likewise, all you irritating Rock Band guitarists who use the whammy bar like crazy will still get your points, but you won’t ruin the sound of the music for everyone else. Fine with us!

Drums and guitars are all well and good, but it’s looking more and more like the new vocal harmony features will end up being the most welcome addition to the Rock Band formula. When playing a song with a band, you’ll see up to three different bars for the harmony parts. The game doesn’t force you to stick to just one part – you can all sing the melody too, so long as all parts are ultimately covered. At the end of the song, you’ll see how well you did individually, with your combined score taking into account everyone’s performance. It’s a bit complicated on paper, but the end result is you’re free to jump off your part as much as you like and not be penalized for it. Drunken warblers, rejoice!

Last but not least, we’d love to tell you all about the story mode and all the classic Beatles homages found within some of the later songs, but we’re not allowed - yet. Luckily for us - and you - we don’t have to! Check it out:

We’ve seen great things from The Beatles: Rock Band so far, and we’ve got to admit, it’s getting better all the time. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as more is revealed!

Jul 27, 2009