Too busy to devote 12+ hours a day to your gaming habit? Here's a review that's sensitive to your needs: Short and focused on just the things that a busy gamer like you really needs to know.
Busy Gamer Review - The Beatles: Rock Band
Reviewed On: Xbox 360.Also available for PS3 and Wii.
In a Nutshell: The latest Rock Band game features one of the - if not THE - greatest bands of all time. Play through John, Paul, George and Ringo's careers, beginning with their modest start in Liverpool's The Cavern club and ending on a London rooftop. Adventure mode (career in Rock Band parlance) is broken up into stages representing the band's recognizable evolution, from clean-cut boys to psychedelics to '60s survivors. This is the first Rock Band game to feature harmonies, so grab your mikes and get ready to rock along with your vocalist (here's how this works). Every career segment is accompanied by stylized animation bumpers appropriate to the period, starting with some simple photo tricks and building up, piece by piece, to a lush and elaborate finale. If the game has a fault, it's that it's too short - only 45 tracks in the main game, though Harmonix has promised to sell us at least 30 more including the remainder of the albums Abbey Road (October), Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (November) and Rubber Soul (December).
Learning Curve: Easy for Rock Band veterans, assuming you've mastered your instrument of choice already. Do you want to know a secret? Even newbies will fare well on Easy, which now incorporates the no-fail mode introduced with Rock Band 2 (it's still available for Quick Play, if you prefer everyone have it regardless of skill level, but this way the newbs won't let you down). The early years are relatively simple, familiar tunes that provide an easy introduction to the Rock Band milieu. Singers will have to learn to focus on their segments, as the 2- and 3-part harmonies appear in the lead singer's section - so keep a close eye on the bottom line and watch for your color band. There are the usual arrays of tutorials and new drum lessons designed to teach you Ringo Starr's style.
The Save Game: The game auto-saves after each song and lets you pick up your career right where you left off. Challenges, with 4-7 songs in a set, must be played through in one sitting.
Family Factor: The game is pretty family friendly - and the no-fail mode means our eager-to-sing 6-year-old will be able to oo-ahh-ooo along with the Fab Four. We might even let him take a shot at lead vocals. If your kids can read, they can handle this. There are a few mildly objectionable lyrics (references to wife beating, wet dreams and knickers) and oblique drug references. Nothing a parent should have much trouble explaining to an inquisitive child. Small kids will enjoy the psychedelic sequences. Your stoner teen will, also.
Buy or Skip? For hardcore Beatles fans, this is a no-brainer buy. The promised downloadable content will greatly expand your repertoire, adding to the game's shelf life. On the flip side, the songs can't be added to your regular Rock Band/Rock Band 2 playlists and you can't import any other Rock Band tracks you might have - so it's all Beatles or nothing. The new instrument bundles are good for bands starting out, but if you've already invested in Rock Band 1 or 2 instruments, they should work fine (check here to be sure).
On a Personal Note: The Beatles were one of my grandmother's favorite bands - and she was in her eighties when she passed. (She also loved Mozart and "The Lynyrd Skynyrd." Go figure.) While our personal tastes within The Beatles varied (she was more of a Let It Be chick, while I loved Sgt. Pepper's) we agreed completely, and bonded, in our love for Abbey Road. She even excused the violence in Maxwell's Silver Hammer - she was very against the whole "hitting women over the head" thing - because Abbey Road contained her favorite lyric: "And in the end, the love you take/is equal to the love you make." We spent hours dissecting that album's meaning. I look forward to doing the same with my son.