A limited songlist, lack of a few hoped-for features, and the overpriced bundle don't offset the quality of the gameplay

User Rating: 8 | The Beatles: Rock Band PS3
First of all, the purchase of this game's overpriced bundle should be relgated to only people who fall into one of the following three categories: a.) Hard-core Beatles fans b.) Hard-core Rock Band fans or c.) people who are buying the Beatles Rock Band despite not already owning instruments from the previous Rock Band or Guitar Hero games. If you don't fall into one of these three categories, you can stick with just the stand-alone game. But if you are willing to pay the high price for the bundle, the production quality of the kit is very high. The instruments seem very sturdy and play nicely. Although the drum kit has little plastic black circles in the middle of the pad that make irritating tapping sounds as you play. The instruments themselves are very efficiently and neatly placed in the box, and the box itself is relatively small and can be easily used as a carrying case for game. I also had some problems with the instruments randomly disconnecting themselves from their USB dongles if they were left idle for even a single minute (why are the PS3 instruments still NOT Blue-Tooth?), so I had to frequently press the button on the dongle or flip the power switch on the instrument off then back on. It is also disapointing that for the price we are paying, EA did not bother to include at least two of the drum cymbals. Come on, EA, their only $20 retail anyway, could it have killed you to just throw them in?

But on to the game itself...

The core gameplay for instruments is virtually identical to Rock Band 2 with some minor changes. Overdrive (now redubbed "Beatlemania") is no longer preceeded by free-form drum fills in an attempt to keep the music as true to the original recordings as possible. Instead, drum Beatlemania is triggered by optionally hitting a green glowing note. Similarly, the "bend" effect of the whammy-bar has been removed from the guitars so as to keep the music identical to the original recordings. The whammy will still charge your Beatlemania meter, however, so its not completely useless.

The big change from a gameplay standpoint comes in the form of vocal harmonies. Up to three singers can participate in many songs. Each singer can sing whichever part they want, and streak meter will continue to go up as long as at least one singer completes the phrase. Many songs include back-up vocals that are separate from the melody, so you are not all just singing the same thing in every song. It works well, and effectively makes the game a 6-player experience!

But, if Harmonix wanted to make the game as authentic as possible, and managed to include multiple vocalists, why did they omit having multiple guitar tracks? I understand that rhythm and lead guitars are combined in all the Rock Band / Guitar Hero games in order to make the guitar more fun and challenging to play. But if many of the vocal harmonies end up overlapping with the lead melody, why couldn't Harmonix implement a similar system with the guitar? They could have allowed two people to play guitar and used the same track, and as long as at least one person hit the notes, the streak would continue, but more points would be awarded for both guitarists hitting the notes. That seems reasonable right? I mean, that's basically how the vocal harmonies work. It would have been nicer to have had separate guitar tracks (one with John's rhythm chords and the other with George's lead notes), but I think an overlapping track would have been a perfectly acceptable comprimise, and would have bumped the player limit up to 7, as well as allowing 4 people to perform in an authentic Beatles' style, with two guitars and the bassist singing and Ringo in the back playing drums (and maybe we'll give Ringo a microphone for a few songs). To me, the lack of a second guitarist is a HUGE disapointment. Especially considering that EA released TWO stand-alone guitar instruments (John's Rickenbacker and George's Gretsch Pro-Jet). But as it stands, if you bought the bundle and both of those guitars, you'd have one guitar (a $100+ peripheral) always sitting out on the sidelines.
I was also hoping that the use of the Abbey Road studio likeness and the Beatle's song-writing talents might have brought about some sort of Rock Band song editor or creator or mixer for this game. Sadly, that also did not happen, but it was kind of a long-shot, so I won't hold it against Harmonix or the game.

Sadly, this is not the only instance in which I feel that EA, Harmonix, and Apple records have ripped-off us consumers. The game comes packaged with only 45 songs out of the Beatles 200+ song catalog, and a LOT of really great songs are missing. I can understand why some classics like "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby" are absent, but where is "Hey Jude", or "A Day in the Life" or "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "Help!"? To put this in perspective, the first Rock Band had almost TWICE as many songs on the disc. And with the complete "Abbey Road" and "Sgt. Pepper" albums already announced as DLC, I can't help but feel somewhat shafted by EA, Harmonix, and Apple records.

Fortunately, I was able to get a pretty good deal on the bundle, so I do not feel too terribly bad about buying some of the DLC when its released. But I can definitely see how someone who blew $250 for the bundle and maybe even another $100 or $200 for one or both stand-alone guitars could feel completely ripped-off. That amounts to basically $10 per song!!! Plus, one of the guitars you bought won't even be useable, AND, you'll still have to shell out another $20 or so for a third microphone, and maybe even more if you want a third microphone stand, AND if you want the cymbal expansion for the drums, it'll be an extra $30+! All added up, that is well over $500 for a game with only 45 songs.

The game itself is still a very good game. The production values are outstanding (despite somewhat limited gameplay content), and some nice tweaks have been made to the interface to make things go smoother. For example, song selection now consists of picking a song from the list, then going to a screen where each instrument can join and select their difficulty. From here, you can also change certain settings with the press of a button, such as "No Fail Mode" and "Lefty Switch". So the game is very quick and smooth, which means it won't be too much trouble to switch from Rock Band 2 to The Beatles during any social event that includes Rock Band playing. You can't however, export the Beatles songs to Rock Band 2 or vice versa, so you can't put together a Rock Band playlist with the Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones all together and re-live the British invasion in its entirety(which would be pretty sweet).