The Four Are Back, But Aren’t Quite Fab

The_Beatles_Rock_Band_box_artWith the release of games like Guitar Hero Aerosmith and Metallica from Activision over the past two years, you knew it was only a matter of time that the guys and gals at Harmonix fired back with a game that chronicles the careers of another big name band. That game just happens to be “The Beatles Rock Band,” a game that not only trumps any other rhythm game of its kind on any system to date, it’s possibly even in the same league as “Rock Band II” and “Guitar Hero 5.”

Nevertheless, the game’s lasting appeal is hurt in the long run with some shoddy oversights, turning a remarkable title into something that lives up to expectations, but not much more.

If you’re familiar at all with the Rock Band series, you’ll instantly find the gameplay of this title easy to pick up. With online and local multi-player and story modes, there’s enough to keep you busy for a nice period of time, but with 45 songs on the game, all available from the first second you play, there isn’t much reason to play through the story. Sure, the sites you encounter throughout, such as the Cavern, the Ed Sullivan Show and Shea Stadium are a blast from the past and the pictures you unlock by finishing songs are filled with enough nostalgia to make any teenage girl that looks like an extra from “Scooby Doo: Where are You?” scream their head off, but they lack the ability to keep an individual gamer playing after they’ve completed the mode.

For that reason, “The Beatles Rock Band” is a step above GH Aerosmith and Metallica, but fails to addict us like RB II and GH 5.

The biggest reason why that doesn’t happen is because songs like “Let it Be,” “In my Life,” “Help,” “Hey Jude” and “Yesterday” have been left off the original game entirely. The fact that only “In my Life” is scheduled to be a downloadable track in December is a true shame. Some of these songs rely more on instruments that aren’t able to be played in the game, but who cares. The Guitar Hero franchise was a household name for years, using only one instrument, why couldn’t Harmonix allow only a vocalist and drummer to perform on some tracks?

Yes, the title is best played with friends and perhaps that’s the reason these classic tracks, possibly the best the quartet has ever produced, have been left off this game, but that’s not a good enough excuse to shortchange people who were looking forward to playing along with these songs.

Either way you look at it, it hurts what could have been a once in a lifetime offering.

Luckily, this isn’t Whitesnake we’re talking about and the Beatles have a slew of dozens of other high quality tracks to choose from. Simply put, there’s something for everyone here and because of it, the game is still a blast. It’s just not the complete package it could have been had more songs been available right out of the box.

The graphics and presentation however are exceptional and bring the great tracks alive even more, making you feel like a part of the band like never before. When you’re not in a venue and singing songs in career mode, tracks like “Here Comes the Sun” and “Yellow Submarine” take you on a musical journey that is so polished and stylish that you’ll have a hard time keeping your eyes on the notes you have to press. Seeing George Harrison playing the guitar in a prairie or the group in the yellow submarine is enough to put a smile on the smallest Beatles fan’s face.

These small touches are what make the game so enjoyable and something that you will go back to, even if there are no achievement points or unlockables to gain by doing so.

You may not enjoy it as much as “Rock Band II” or “Guitar Hero 5,” but if you are an older gamer or a slick youngster with a hunkering for some classic rock by one of the greatest bands of all time, you can do a lot worse than “The Beatles: Rock Band.”

It’s not perfect, but neither was the band or their music. Even with a shallow list of songs, the title is a superb one that will deliver to everyone but the most crazed Beatles fans out there. So get ready shake it baby now in the yellow submarine with a walrus. You won’t be do psychedelic drugs and meeting the Hare Krishna, but you’ll be re-experiencing some of the best music of all-time.

And all with a little help from your friends.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 11438 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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