Attention Fab Four fans: You've got less than 30 days to wait for the release of The Beatles: Rock Band, the latest rhythm game from the folks at Harmonix. As its name implies, the game is completely focused on the music of The Beatles, and last month, Harmonix reps visited GameSpot offices to give us a hands-on look at the game. We reported on part of that visit during our last look at the game in August, but today, we've got the rest of the story.
Last time, we gave you a look at the vocal trainer, which will help fledgling singers wrap their vocal chords around the complex harmonies from the 45 career-spanning songs found in the game. In addition, the game will have a drum trainer of sorts. Known as "Beatles Beats," the mode will give you insight into the drumming style of Ringo Starr, with more than 80 beats and fills to practice that are inspired by the songs in the game. Beatles Beats is in addition to the game's drum trainer mode, which will include 45 exercises designed to help you get your act together behind the set. If you complete the drum trainer and make your way through the many Beatles Beats exercises, you'll be ready for practically anything Ringo (or many other drummers) throws at you.
When The Beatles: Rock Band was announced last year, producers said it would span the entire career of the legendary band. That narrative will be told through the game's story mode, which will follow the band from its earliest days playing such small joints as the Cavern Club to its megastardom and worldwide tours. Finally, the story mode will follow the band to Abbey Road Studios where band members craft masterpieces as studio perfectionists. We caught a glimpse of how the story mode will work, with a look at the first two chapters of the game. These two chapters focus on the Cavern Club and the band's 1964 appearance on The Ed Sullivan show, respectively, and feature music from those respective eras.
Successfully completing songs in the game's story mode will unlock loads of Beatles goodies. Perhaps the most fascinating of these goodies are authentic photographs from the band's vault, some of which have never been seen before. In the first chapter, for example, you'll unlock pictures of the guys on stage in the cramped confines of the Cavern Club (one stand-out photo is a great shot taken on stage, with the camera behind the band and focusing on the throng of club-goers in attendance at the show). There are multiple photographs to unlock per chapter, and some will only be available to you if you five-star a song.
Once you've completed a chapter in the game, you can try a chapter challenge, which is essentially a setlist made up of all the songs from that particular chapter that will unlock further goodies for you. One special note about chapter challenges is this: Overdrive and note streaks will continue from song to song in this mode, making it easier to keep the energy up in your mini-concert.
The photos you unlock will all come with facts about the band's career--all vetted, Harmonix reps told us, by Sir Paul McCartney himself. But it's not just photos--you'll also find other Beatles memorabilia hidden in the game. For example, there's a Christmas record released by the band in 1963, which features the band's take on "Good King Wencesles," as well as long spoken messages of holiday cheer from John, Ringo, Paul, and George.
As much fun as the unlockables may be for Beatles faithful, it's the music that matters. The game's 45 packed-in songs and plentiful downloadable content coming after release are pleasure enough, but the details that surround those tunes are also a joy--the studio chatter you hear among the quartet before launching into a song or the lush "dreamscapes" that provide an elegant visual accompaniment to the songs. While playing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," for example, we watched as the band began playing the song in a park veranda that eventually transformed into a hot air balloon before coming back down to earth with the band ending the song while playing their instruments in the friendly confines of Abbey Road.
There's less than a month to go before The Beatles: Rock Band hits retail, and you can expect plenty more information on the game between now and September 9 when the game is released, so stay tuned.