Good luck finding a music game as fun and authentic as this one.
If you haven't heard of The Beatles, you might not have heard of any other band in the history of mankind. They were that popular and that influential, and so it's only fit that a music game ought to be made based on their music and career. Fortunately for everyone who likes The Beatles, Harmonix was able to secure the rights to make the game with the same style as Rock Band; put the two together and we get The Beatles: Rock Band: the most fun and authentic music game I have ever played despite its lack of length.
Rather than going through a 'Career' or 'Tour' mode, The Beatles game runs through a Story mode, highlighting a number high points in the band's career including the memorable performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, their rather drowned out appearance at Shea Stadium, and the Abbey Road recording sessions. Between each song set is a montage of authentic Beatles photography, providing many fun in-between clips. The game's Story mode is solid and great fun to play through, made even greater by the developers' close attention to authenticity. Each song is given a unique on screen performance by the well-animated Beatles, and there are plenty of extras to unlock with over 100 photos and several videos that include plenty of fun facts about the band. Unfortunately the whole story only lasts a few short hours.
And this is where we run into the game's one problem. There are only about 45 songs on disc; about half of what can be found in other music games such as Rock Band 2. There are a few Beatles favorites missing from the mix too, making this shortcoming all the more disappointing. However, making up for the small number of songs is the quality of the included tracks and diversity of the list as a whole. The Beatles did have plenty of different sounding songs, after all, from the catchy flair of 'Can't Buy Me Love' to the light rock sound of 'Come Together' to the softness of 'Here Comes the Sun.' There are plenty of various sounds present, and considering all the songs are from The Beatles, the diversity is really quite impressive. For the most part the songs present little challenge, but they remain far from boring because the parts are almost always interesting. Even playing the bass, which was rarely all that fun in previous music games, is made an enjoyable experience by Paul McCartney's skill, and in fact the bass parts present most of the game's light challenges.
Harmonix's signature gameplay is as solid and entertaining as ever and helps make these classic songs fun to play. It's the same as it has always been: songs are played by strumming in time with the notes on screen while holding down the correct fret buttons, or just hitting the correct pad on the drums. One new addition to the Beatles game is two and three part vocal harmonies, which I never attempted or witnessed but they seem to be a fun and interesting option for exceptionally skilled singers. The Beatles: Rock Band also makes playing an instrument and singing simultaneously more enjoyable and doable that it has ever been, perhaps because The Beatles themselves all were such talented multitaskers.
Online play is also seamlessly integrated into every part of the game in quick and lag-free fashion. Every game mode available, including the Story, can be played with a full band comprised of members from all over the world. Playing online is not even the slightest pain either, seeing as there is absolutely no lag and finding players is so quick that the whole process hardly gives one time to get up off the couch and stretch. Online play is a strong element in The Beatles: Rock Band, allowing players from all around the world to enjoy the great music together seamlessly and painlessly.
I think it's safe to say that The Beatles: Rock Band is by far the best-looking music game on Wii to date. None of the Guitar Hero games can even come close to competing with it visually, and even the other Rock Band games didn't have performance animations this sharp and entertaining. The character models are sharp, the animations are smooth, The Beatles always actually look like they're playing their instruments, the crowds aren't entirely generic, and the Abbey Road sessions are vividly and colorfully presented. Harmonix did a great job of making the game look good even on Wii, which is usually the overlooked console visually speaking.
The Beatles: Rock Band is the strongest band-centered music game to date, when it all comes down to it. The game may be pretty short and easy, but every element is worked out to excellent entertainment value and authenticity. The song list is more fun than any other music game out there because, well, it's The Beatles we're talking about here, it would be hard to beat! And I doubt any band-centered music game will ever beat it because The Beatles deserve such an authentic and fantastic tribute as this game certainly is. The asking price may be steep for the amount of songs available, but it's worth every dollar for even the least enthusiastic Beatles fans.
+ Excellent Story mode with plenty of great unlockables
+ Astounding attention to authenticity
+ Excellent and diverse song selection
+ Playing bass is very fun even for guitar lovers
+ Online play is quick, lag-free, and seamlessly integrated
+ Sharp presentation and performance animations
- Short and mostly easy