Reigning supreme as one of the most iconic and influential bands of the 20th century, and possibly even of the entire history of music, The Beatles have certainly left their musical footprint deeply embedded in the vast, winding caverns of my ears. With the music game genre firmly established by the likes of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, it was only a matter of time before the Fab Four got their Ticket to Ride on a console near you.
Every now and then, amongst the masses of grey-coloured sludge put out for sale by games companies, a title appears in the release schedules which will send a small, barely tangible tingle down my spine. I'm sorry to say that the particular sensation had been absent from my spinal column for quite a while, but when I saw this particular title the tingle returned; along with a puddle next to my shoes.
What is obvious from the off is the effort and workmanship that has gone into crafting such a beautiful game. Often, music games fall prey to poor,underwhelming graphics and messily constructed menu systems, but The Beatles defies this with a harmonious cry of "Not I, kind Sir!" and gets on with showing off its wonderfully trippy, psychedelic visuals that are more vibrant than a rainbow and more insane than the obscure thoughts of an acid-tripping hippie, which given the game's subject matter is brilliantly relevant.
Placing my long Guitar Hero pedigree far out of reach, I dive into Rock Band's offering and I am met with a fluidly functioning interface and a music-simulation experience so involving and deep that for a few seconds, I really thought that there was a Lucy in the Sky with some sweet, sweet Diamonds. With the guitar simulation genre having been on the scene for a good few years now, the software and hardware has blossomed and bloomed with more than a single flourish into an system that is enjoyed by a monstrous and ever-expanding community of rock-gamers.
It seems that The Beatles have transcended the music scene to become something almost spiritual and inspiring amongst music-lovers worldwide. They were, and their music remains, one of the few forces in the world that can truly encourage people to Come Together in one mentality. With most of their prolifically popular songs on the disk, there is most definitely something for everyone encased in what is fundamentally an interactive Beatles anthology.
As a music game, a longer-than-average lifespan is inherent with the genre, but the value I felt that I received with Beatles was, for me, unprecedented. I keep finding myself magnetised back to my console with only the intent to see the artwork and visuals, to hear the sound of the century and to master the fretboard.
The co-operative features are where the game shines with the greatest magnificence. Once upon a time, playing guitar on your console was reserved for slightly overweight, underpaid men with greying ginger hair (and beard), a black t-shirt encrusted with last night's curry and dusted with fine sprinklings of a recent pack of Wotsits. Now the stage has opened itself up and added the whole host of instruments for your friends to impress your mum (or embarass themselves) with. When there's an entire roomful of lyrical energy and musical power emanating through the thin cavity-walls and gradually rotting floorboards, the magic of performing music as a band begins to come alive. And while the drummer may just be tapping some rubbery pads; the singer wailing inaudibly and the disgustingly misusing the whammy bar, for a few minutes while they play their respective favourites, they are John, Pal, George and Ringo and they are back in the swingin' Sixties...Man.
After you've booted out your mates, mopped up spilt beverages and, in a suitably Rock and Roll manner, ignored any smashed vases, televisions, mirrors or urns, it's time to sit back and mellow and batter your previous scores with your new found expertise. The achievements of The Beatles Rock Band are surprisingly refreshing and, with some skill and a modicum of hard work, are definitely achieveable. The ability to check your progress towards certain achievements is a godsend and keeps you wearing those tired fingers further and further into your reddened and ragged knuckles.
As a complete package, I believe that The Beatles Rock Band is certainly something that the Beatles of the 60s would have been proud to attach their name to. Glistening with a pristine shine, the all-round consistency in the game's quality definitely makes it worth a purchase. If you're a Beatles fan like myself, then the great gaming experience that it may be for any other gamer will shift into a mouth-watering array of aural and visual ecstacy that could, in hindsight, give credence to Lennon's greatly famed faux pas, the "bigger than jesus" comment.
Amongst further features lie the chapter challenges which allow your deft fretwork to be rewarded with photos, sound bites and even the 1963 Beatles Christmas Record. These, alongside a selection of multiplayer quickplay modes including Score-Duel and Tug of War, expand the title's already impressive longevity to a distance that goes far beyond my foreseeable gaming future.
So whether you're looking to channel Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr, or just after a few more songs to wield your plastic axe to, then this is a definite buy. With the Beatles able to stake claim to what is certainly a diverse and vibrant catalogue of songs, a nice variety of playing styles are catered for and some of the harder songs will certainly prove a challenge. When you do finally get bored of the default setlist, more Beatles songs will be appearing on the Music Store, which currently offers the fantastic "All You Need Is Love" for your personal enjoyment. If you never read another of my reviews or even deign to heed what I have to type; read this carefully. BUY IT!
Sam has been unable to peel his bloodshot eyes and RSI-ridden wrists from the world of gaming since he was first introduced to it, like all good junkies, by his Grandad. From those early days of MegaDrive sweetness, bashing through the throngs of enemies on Shining Force II, his love of all things games has extended upwards and outwards onto a variety of platforms. You can either believe that spiel, or get the real scoop and know that his spaceship actually crashed here some years ago and he is currently incognito as a games writer for Console Monster.