What Rock Band 2 did for wannabe drummers, Harmonix's upcoming music game, The Beatles: Rock Band, looks set to do for would-be vocalists. In addition to the raw awesome factor of a game built entirely around the Beatles' massive library of classic hits, the developers have put together a bunch of goodies to help you explore the nuances of those songs. Recently, the folks at Harmonix dropped by GameSpot HQ to show off the latest build of the game and give us hands-on time with some newly announced songs and let us check out the Vocal Training mode for ourselves.
Before we get into the vocal trainer, let's get out the most important news first: the new entries in the Beatles: Rock Band catalog. In addition to 10 songs announced back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, 15 songs have been announced today:
• Twist and Shout
• Do You Want to Know a Secret
• Can't Buy Me Love
• I Wanna Be Your Man
• Eight Days a Week
• Paperback Writer
• And Your Bird Can Sing
• Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
• With a Little Help From My Friends
• Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows
• Yellow Submarine
• Dig a Pony
• I've Got a Feeling
We had a chance to try out several of these songs for ourselves, from the rocking midtempo "Revolution" to upbeat numbers like "Twist and Shout" and "Paperback Writer," all of which were great fun to play. Unlike "Revolution," which is sung solo, both "Twist and Shout" and "Paperback Writer" feature the complex background vocals that have defined The Beatles' sound and influenced thousands of bands since.
One of the essential skills for singing harmony vocals is to identify the sometimes complex lines being sung in the background. It's here that the game's Vocal Training mode helps tremendously. When playing songs in the mode, you can switch between and isolate the different vocal parts, which are augmented by a tone playing the particular notes in that vocal part. Looping a part--similar to how you might have learned a drum beat or fill with the drum trainer in Rock Band 2--will help you learn and memorize the different parts in a song, which you can apply during your next play-through.
When you're singing a song in The Beatles: Rock Band, the game doesn't "lock" any of up to three singers in a song to a specific part. For instance, if you want to switch between a harmony vocal to the lead line in the middle of a song, you won't be penalized for doing so. That said, the game definitely pays attention to everything you sing and gives you very specific feedback at the end of your performance as to which line you spent the majority of your time on. Skilled singers will probably look to assign themselves to a specific part and then challenge themselves to make sure they don't stray from that part. When you're following along with a song's vocal line, different colors will be assigned to different parts, giving you a visual clue as to which part you need to pay attention to.
As with the original Rock Band games, you might find yourself learning something in The Beatles: Rock Band, even while you're having a good time belting out the classic pop tunes (for instance, until we played the game, we had no idea that during one section of "Paperback Writer" the lyrics being sung in the background harmony are from the classic children's song "Frere Jacques"). Still, just like its Rock Band forebears, The Beatles: Rock Band is all about a good time, which the game looks to provide in spades. Look for more on the game next month as we lead up to its release on September 9.