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Digging Deeper Into The Beatles: Rock Band's Career Mode

Is this more than just Rock Band with some Beatles songs thrown in? Find out inside!

In addition to hawking The Beatles: Rock Band on QVC in the recent past, Harmonix also rolled through town with its latest rhythm title not long ago and gave me a close-up look at some of the more in-depth aspects of the Fab Four's first-ever video game. On the surface, this certainly looks something like a "Rock Band with Beatles songs" sort of package, but there's a healthy list of subtle touches to this game that look like they'll really elevate the quality of the experience, at least for serious Beatles fans. (If you're not a fan at all, being perfectly honest, there's probably not that much here for you.)

Anyway, let's break it right on down by category, shall we?

Beatle Beats


Rock Band 2's drum training mode with the snazzy name--the drum trainer--is reborn, or at least slightly modified, in the Beatles game as Beatle Beats. Fundamentally, it does the same, letting you practice the drum parts from all of the game's songs at vastly slower tempos than they normally follow. But Beatle Beats also attempts to introduces you to Ringo's general playing style technique, and goes as far as giving you the technical names for many of the parts he plays. As before, the drums are the closest you're going to get to learning a real musical instrument in Rock Band, and the Beatle Beats program seems geared toward that potential. 
 

 

Career Mode


The game's career mode is structured about like you'd expect. Each leg of your journey consists of four or five songs and takes you to an iconic venue from those songs' collective era. For the first set, you play the band's 1963 show at The Cavern. Next up, of course, is the legendary appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and on and on right up to The Beatles' farewell rooftop concert in London.
 

 
Of course, the band gave up touring for a number of years while it, uh, experimented with various styles (and substances). So what venues do you have to draw from during the period where The Beatles played no venues? That's where the dreamscapes come in, which all start out with the band playing in their studio and then get progressively weirder and weirder. Grass starts growing out of the floor, then they're wearing the Sgt. Pepper's uniforms, then they're underwater and a yellow submarine is floating by. It's pretty weird, and fun to watch it all unfold.


 

Goodies 'n Extras 'n Stuff


At best, I'd describe myself as a fairweather Beatles fan--I can name and tap my feet to the big hits, but that's about all. Even I got pretty excited, though, at the unlockable obscurities and minutiae Harmonix is cramming into this game, so I can't imagine the excitement diehard fans are going to feel when they see some of the things that made it into the package.
 

 
What the game has is a rather sizable set of rewards for each of the venues in career mode. As in any other Rock Band, you earn stars for doing well in each song, and a certain number of stars per venue will get you all sorts of interesting prizes. There's a set of behind-the-scenes photos of the Beatles, many of which Harmonix says were mined from Apple Corps' archive and have never been released before in any format. 
 

 
Better still, there's a meaty piece of trivia attached to each image. For example, did you know just about all of Please Please Me was recorded in a marathon ten-hour recording session? The album's producer insisted the band wait to record "Twist and Shout" until the end, because he knew John Lennon would pretty much blow out his vocals on that song. Sure enough, by the second take Lennon's voice was pretty well wrecked, so the released version of the song is the first take the band laid down. Trivia!
 

 
The photos are just the start of the bonuses in the game. There's a set of more in-depth prizes you can earn by unlocking set amounts of photos, though Harmonix was only ready to show the first prize when I saw the game. But it's a pretty excellent one: the band's entire first Christmas record, sent out only to members of the Beatles fan club in 1963, has been preserved in the game. You can listen to the whole thing start to finish as high-res images of the album cover and all the liner notes (including a lengthy message from the band) scroll across the screen. If all the included prizes go to this level of detail, then The Beatles: Rock Band will serve as a nice little record of history in addition to simply letting you play along with a bunch of Beatles songs. 
  
So there you go. Again, this is such a Beatles-centric game, with so much peripheral material crammed in, that if you just can't stand the band for some reason, you're probably good to skip it. But conversely, if you have any affection for the Beatles whatsoever, it'd probably be pretty dumb to pass this game up when it hits stores on that utterly appropriate date of 9/9/09.  
    

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
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Posted by Brad

In addition to hawking The Beatles: Rock Band on QVC in the recent past, Harmonix also rolled through town with its latest rhythm title not long ago and gave me a close-up look at some of the more in-depth aspects of the Fab Four's first-ever video game. On the surface, this certainly looks something like a "Rock Band with Beatles songs" sort of package, but there's a healthy list of subtle touches to this game that look like they'll really elevate the quality of the experience, at least for serious Beatles fans. (If you're not a fan at all, being perfectly honest, there's probably not that much here for you.)

Anyway, let's break it right on down by category, shall we?

Beatle Beats


Rock Band 2's drum training mode with the snazzy name--the drum trainer--is reborn, or at least slightly modified, in the Beatles game as Beatle Beats. Fundamentally, it does the same, letting you practice the drum parts from all of the game's songs at vastly slower tempos than they normally follow. But Beatle Beats also attempts to introduces you to Ringo's general playing style technique, and goes as far as giving you the technical names for many of the parts he plays. As before, the drums are the closest you're going to get to learning a real musical instrument in Rock Band, and the Beatle Beats program seems geared toward that potential. 
 

 

Career Mode


The game's career mode is structured about like you'd expect. Each leg of your journey consists of four or five songs and takes you to an iconic venue from those songs' collective era. For the first set, you play the band's 1963 show at The Cavern. Next up, of course, is the legendary appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and on and on right up to The Beatles' farewell rooftop concert in London.
 

 
Of course, the band gave up touring for a number of years while it, uh, experimented with various styles (and substances). So what venues do you have to draw from during the period where The Beatles played no venues? That's where the dreamscapes come in, which all start out with the band playing in their studio and then get progressively weirder and weirder. Grass starts growing out of the floor, then they're wearing the Sgt. Pepper's uniforms, then they're underwater and a yellow submarine is floating by. It's pretty weird, and fun to watch it all unfold.


 

Goodies 'n Extras 'n Stuff


At best, I'd describe myself as a fairweather Beatles fan--I can name and tap my feet to the big hits, but that's about all. Even I got pretty excited, though, at the unlockable obscurities and minutiae Harmonix is cramming into this game, so I can't imagine the excitement diehard fans are going to feel when they see some of the things that made it into the package.
 

 
What the game has is a rather sizable set of rewards for each of the venues in career mode. As in any other Rock Band, you earn stars for doing well in each song, and a certain number of stars per venue will get you all sorts of interesting prizes. There's a set of behind-the-scenes photos of the Beatles, many of which Harmonix says were mined from Apple Corps' archive and have never been released before in any format. 
 

 
Better still, there's a meaty piece of trivia attached to each image. For example, did you know just about all of Please Please Me was recorded in a marathon ten-hour recording session? The album's producer insisted the band wait to record "Twist and Shout" until the end, because he knew John Lennon would pretty much blow out his vocals on that song. Sure enough, by the second take Lennon's voice was pretty well wrecked, so the released version of the song is the first take the band laid down. Trivia!
 

 
The photos are just the start of the bonuses in the game. There's a set of more in-depth prizes you can earn by unlocking set amounts of photos, though Harmonix was only ready to show the first prize when I saw the game. But it's a pretty excellent one: the band's entire first Christmas record, sent out only to members of the Beatles fan club in 1963, has been preserved in the game. You can listen to the whole thing start to finish as high-res images of the album cover and all the liner notes (including a lengthy message from the band) scroll across the screen. If all the included prizes go to this level of detail, then The Beatles: Rock Band will serve as a nice little record of history in addition to simply letting you play along with a bunch of Beatles songs. 
  
So there you go. Again, this is such a Beatles-centric game, with so much peripheral material crammed in, that if you just can't stand the band for some reason, you're probably good to skip it. But conversely, if you have any affection for the Beatles whatsoever, it'd probably be pretty dumb to pass this game up when it hits stores on that utterly appropriate date of 9/9/09.  
    

Posted by Boyling

This looks kind of neat. I love the history bits

Posted by joey

I'm sooooo pumped for this game!

Posted by basshero

Excited!! I've already preordered this but now I'm even more psyched. Only 3 weeks to go!

Posted by Azteck

So stoked! Getting it day one, without a doubt.

Posted by SmasheControllers

Awesome!

Posted by Coltonio7

Beatles Christmas Record? Done.

Posted by Kaido

I don't even like The Beatles, but I suddenly have a desire to buy this.

Posted by Killroycantkill

The game looks awesome. Though I wish those limited edish instruments were sold separately because I really only want Paul's bass guitar. That thing is so sweet. I'm glad they are adding in all those extra's and after that Kotaku story of Yoko Ono apparently being a wiener to the programers to get everything right you know its going to stay true to the band.

Posted by TooWalrus

I'm paying the money for the full set. I don't care about college tuition, books, gas or girlfriend.

Posted by MetalGearSunny

That's a cool looking menu.

Posted by Chewii101

Harmonix know how to build a quality product. Not that  big of a Beatles fan but the fact I want this game tells you how well Harmonix craft their games. 

Posted by Dachef

I need this game!!!!!

Posted by ahoodedfigure

Geez, that's pretty cool :)  
 
I'm still waiting for a more in-depth career mode on any of these rhythm games but as far as this being part of the current line of games...  looks pretty cool to me.

Posted by Vance_Helsing
@Killroycantkill said:
" The game looks awesome. Though I wish those limited edish instruments were sold separately because I really only want Paul's bass guitar. That thing is so sweet. I'm glad they are adding in all those extra's and after that Kotaku story of Yoko Ono apparently being a wiener to the programers to get everything right you know its going to stay true to the band. "
 
Actually, at my local Gamestop (yeah, I know), they're planning to sell the instruments separately. They're at a steep price ($100 per guitar or bass, I wanna say $120 for the drum kit) but if you're interested, by all means go see if they're taking preorders or something.
Edited by Linkyshinks

Thanks Brad. It all sounds great. The '63 Christmas album is awesome fan service. This game is a Beatles fan dream, which is why it's getting bought by me on launch night.

Posted by CrazyCraven

Getting excited for this. 

Posted by toadstule

If only this much care and detail went into Activision "band-specific" Guitar Hero games.

Posted by WreckinRodRumbler

DO WANT

Posted by Systech

Give me, please.

Posted by Ivanetc

god i'm so exciteddddd

Posted by ParadoxControl

I absolutly love all the minimalistic stylings applyed to the UI in this game. I can't wait for this to come out!

Posted by damnboyadvance

Looks awesome. And it seems Harmonix actually puts a lot of work into their Rock Band games, INCLUDING games featuring a certain band, unlike some company I know. I'm not crazy for The Beatles, but they're pretty good and I'll get the game.

Posted by SgtReznor

I'm totally taking the day off work when this game comes out

Posted by PrawnToast
@SgtReznor said:
" I'm totally taking the day off work when this game comes out "
I've booked a whole week for this and another popular music game (GH5) cough...cough
Posted by JackiJinx

Damn it. The more I say that I don't want sequels that are essentially the same to the original product, the more they change up said sequels just enough for me to want to play them. Damn you, know it alls!

Posted by Jayzilla

I am a huge fan of the beatles, but i can't see paying extra for DLC. it kinda makes me feel like in full metal jacket. you know, the part where the sarge asks about fucking the guy without gicing him the common courtesy of a reach-around. i feel like i am getting fucked by paying EXTRA for the DLC without the gratuitous hand job. I just won't take that kind of abuse.

Posted by CL60

Neat.

Posted by ShaunM

One of my most anticipated games of the fall, hopefully I can get a new 360 around the time this comes out.  Excellent write up, Brad.

Posted by Poki3

Why would anyone NOT want this? It's so easy to do.

Edited by MrKlorox

Some quick questions. Somebody please answer them.
 
Do the songs use the original masters? If so, are they mixed to sound like the stereo versions or the monaural versions of the songs? (see explanation)
 
By this, I'm not asking if the game is in Stereo. When the recordings were originally mixed, they were mixed into the standard mono format with John and Paul's explicit input; whereas the stereo versions were left to recording engineers themselves. This was because the band, like many others at the time, felt that stereo was a fly-by-night gimmick and that mono was here to stay. The mono versions simply have more polish than the stereo versions. I pray to Fuck that Harmonix was aware of this.
 
Sorry if this has already been mentioned, but I haven't really followed this game much.

Posted by Aaron_G

I am actually really excited about the Beatles rock band. 

Posted by RHCPfan24

This looks so good. I can't wait for my pre-order to arrive.

Posted by PuppyKisses

CANNOT WAIT!
Posted by ashogo

Sounds like they're treating the band's name well. They deserve nothing less.

Posted by deaux

This game should be huge.  Very few bands warrant such a treatment, but with the Beatles there's plenty of stuff to build a game around.

Posted by KimFidler

Wow this looks amazing and I'm not even a huge Beatles fan.
Posted by Beechbone

I'm not a huge Beatles fan, but I might get this just because it's Rock Band. I like what Harmonix is doing with this game, it really looks like it's a different title and not just a track pack like Activision's GH games.

Posted by Linkyshinks
@SgtReznor said:
" I'm totally taking the day off work when this game comes out "
 
Yea, me too :P
Posted by Linkyshinks
@MrKlorox said:
" Some quick questions. Somebody please answer them.
 
Do the songs use the original masters? If so, are they mixed to sound like the stereo versions or the monaural versions of the songs? (see explanation) By this, I'm not asking if the game is in Stereo. When the recordings were originally mixed, they were mixed into the standard mono format with John and Paul's explicit input; whereas the stereo versions were left to recording engineers themselves. This was because the band, like many others at the time, felt that stereo was a fly-by-night gimmick and that mono was here to stay. The mono versions simply have more polish than the stereo versions. I pray to Fuck that Harmonix was aware of this.  Sorry if this has already been mentioned, but I haven't really followed this game much. "
 
 
Yes. In answer to your first question, I assume you will be given the option of both. original monaural and mixed stereo versions. I don't  think the stereo mixing is going to warp the sound in anyway, like it can do. You can be sure Apple's technicians have made sure nothings wrong with any of the audio and have cross referenced with the audio output of their originals.
Posted by iceman345

I have been waiting for this game since they announced it last year.

Posted by skywing

I just hate that I will be at school when this is released, I wont have the time to give it my proper attention.

Posted by nrain

Gimme those Beatles!

Posted by AlexB

*Sigh* So on the fence about this. It's Definitely a rental, but it is looking so good I want to buy it. Trouble is I don't have that much money, and it's going to be SOO easy, I'll probably beat it in a day. Idk i guess we'll see.

Posted by TwoOneFive

this is the greatest rhythm game ever. 

Posted by Kyle

ARGH! This is torture! I don't wanna spend the money but I wanna play it so bad!!

Posted by MachoFantastico

Happily pre-ordered. Game is looking great and you got to love yourself some Beatles.  
 
So many amazing tracks on that setlist alone. Not to mention the future albums DLC.

Posted by destruktive

pre-orderred :D

Posted by Xeiphyer

This looks really great! The only problem is that I'm not much of a beatles fan, I wish there was this level of detail for a favorite band of mine =P But the Beatles have definitely earned it =P The trippy mind game backgrounds look awesome to play in.

Posted by CitizenJP

Yippie for tangerine trees and marmalade skies :D

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