Leaps forward, odd shuffles back.
So like most great games the little nit picky things carry a lot of weight. I've decided to have this review focus on those aspects of the game, but make no mistake this is a great game. Easily a 5 star go buy the flippin' game, game.
The doesn't hurt the game but is missed group.
Whammy: So in guitar hero and rock band the whammy bar will alter the pitch of a sustain up and down as you shake the little guy. It also has the game play effect of giving you more juice (star power, over dive or in this case Beatlemania) in B:RB you just get the juice bonus. There really shouldn't be any whammy benefits. Rule one of any rhythm game: don't have track elements that don't give auditory feedback.
Drum fills: I'm not so sure how I feel about this. On one hand I really dig the challenge of coming up with decent fills. On the other, they more often then not sound crappy. So no big whoop really.
Graphics: the good the bad and the confusing.
Party in the Back: The background visuals range from super great to static and uninteresting. Some of the dreamscapes have way more visual punch then just about any rhythm game ever. For the most part though the live venues are kind of lackluster. Dudes just kinda stand there bobbing, granted those dudes are the fucking Beatles but still not the coolest thing to watch.
That stuff under the frets: The menus are great but the while playing note track bits take a step back in presentation. I'm not sure if it's the colours used or if its the animation but it's really hard to tell if you have beatlemania without focusing on the bar. While down there lets get bummed out by the note streak pie dealie (I'm pretty sure note streak pie dealie is the technical term) in RB the pie changes from black to white as it fills and finally to blue once filled to 4x. In B:RB it's shades of green which make it hard to tell when you have full combo.
It's like new coke only dumber: Like singing and playing an instrument wasn't hard enough it's made damn near impossible by bad UI decisions. So like RB you have the option of using the scrolling vocals (the words slide,broken up by syllable under the pitch line) and static, only its usability has been ratcheted down a few pegs for B:RB. In RB the words per phrase and the pitch line are static and the pitch arrow slides across the screen. In B:RB the words per phase
are static but the pitch lines still work like the scrolling option. Combine that with the harmonies being at the very top of the screen, the different vocal icons being hard to distinguish and no way to see the whole phrase (words and pitch) without actively staring make vox+anything a cluster fuck unless you have one of the parts committed to memory.
The tracks are the same, choose pity level: l In B:RB pitch lines are always the same size and for the lower difficulties the pitch bar will snap to the line if you are off but close. In RB the pitch lines get fatter the lower the difficulty with the center of the line being the expert track. This is kind of a big deal because the visual feedback for your pitch changes with the difficulty in B:RB where you are pretty much measured the same in RB just the bar is set lower or wider I should say. This makes the jump between difficulties much more transparent in RB. If you can rock the the center of the line on easy you should pretty much be able to on hard. I'm sure this change is because of harmonies and path overlap concerns but man it hurts the experience.
Good for the stereo bad for a game: the audio missteps.
Echo... echo: Even the lowest mic volume is way to high. Aside from my nasally off key droning this sounds like crap because of lag. I have a 40 something video/audio lag not a big deal with the calibration but if I sing into the mic, in time with what I see/hear it goes to the system and is pushed out with the lag offset added to the audio. So live me and VR Beatles are synced up but mic me is 40ms behind everyone. Mic me has no idea what is going on, he might as well be drunk, singing at seventeen while the rest of the band rawks out to twist and shout.
William Shatner's version of Lucy in the sky with diamonds can never sound right: You cant drop the vocal tracks to nil. I would rarely use this option but I like having it. It makes RB the ultimate karaoke machine.
A really big concession to make: Unlike the mic volume this can't be patched and is really a decent sized step backwards from all previous RB/GH games. In RB instruments you play are higher in the mix then the stuff not being played. This is great to better hear the bass or drums in a song but is huge for guitar. In most RB games the guitar part is mixed between the lead and rhythm guitars and sometimes synth, piano, organ, turn table, harmonica etc etc. when the guitar track switches in the other games the part you are playing is dominant. The part you will play is brought up in the mix until it's on par with what you are playing then you shift to the new instrument and the one you were just playing is faded back. In some songs this is done multiple times insuring that you can best hear what you are playing. In B:BR you always have the studio mix, this can sometimes be confusing. Piano will be up front in the mix but you are playing some quiet rhythm guitar part way at the bottom that more often then not has a different cadence then the lead. Rule 2 of music games: no matter if I'm playing lead guitar or the triangle I should feel like the front man.
Even with those flaws, most of which I'm sure the average none RB/Ritalin addicted super nerd would never notice it's pretty fucking rad. So if you like the Beatles or rockband and hopefully both, go get it. Now. Now?
As an aside I'd really love to see the next rockband incorporate some of the band trinket unlocks. Who wouldn't want to unlock a Lordi hummel figurine after gold staring Hardrock Hallelujah? Hmm I should probably never design games... or Hummel figurines.