Friday, 20 November 2009

The Beatles Rockband Review

At this current moment in time I am avoiding DJ Hero as though it were the Minstead Rapist, as well as expressing only mild interest towards the gimmicky Lego Rockband and refusing to pay the Mount Everest style steep price tag of Band Hero which is ironic when you consider its soundtrack is made up of pop music possibly the cheapest genre known to man. So this leaves me with The Beatles Rock band, Harmonix latest attempt to milk us gullible cows dry until our teats shrivel but it was either this or play Singstar Takethat.

Everyone I know, and I mean everyone has recommended this game to me claiming it is a fun new way to enjoy the fab four’s music – well call me pretenious but if that were my motivation I would listen to the Beatles CDs that I already OWN while wrestling penguins in a container of grease, and not pay over £100 to pretend to play a small selection of their hits. Although in all fairness the game only cost me £30 as I cheated and used the Rock band 2 peripherals. The new guitar peripherals do look pretty but so did Ted Bundy, and since previous controllers work just as well the only purpose they serve is being a masturbatory aid for those who like the Beatles a bit too much. Also I find the band extremely overrated, because while in the 60’s they may have appeared to have descended from Heaven on a golden pissing chariot by today’s cruel standards they’re absolutely average at best. Anyway I’m not here to tell you why your taste in music is poor I’m here to judge the game.

Anyone who has played a Guitar Hero or Rockband game will know what to expect, for those that haven’t I shall explain all. The premise of the game is that you press the corresponding colour button in synch with the visual cues a task which becomes harder when they begin to appear faster and in greater numbers. The overall effect is that you simulate playing the guitar or even drums. If you opt to sing it’s the same premise as karaoke except you’re sober enough to feel the sting of humiliation. Usually the songs progressively become more complex until on the last set of songs you are strumming like a masturbator having an epileptic fit. That doesn’t really apply to this game because while some occasional songs seek to punish you with unholy ardour most require you to move your hands with the same level of urgency you would display when catching a dead moth in an oversized net. Plus the difficultly curve is way off kilter since the game follows the band’s career from start to finish and as such you may be strolling through easy county only to randomly encounter a ravenous beast that is difficult to master, though you shouldn’t meet the game over screen too often provided you can dress yourself, especially since it includes the fucking stupid No Fail option from Rock band 2.

There are very little differences between this and the regular Rock Band, with most just being aesthetic such as overdrive mode now named ‘Beatlemania’ something that I find repulsively fanboyish. You are no longer booed off stage for failing a song because I guess the players would find that too distressing, since to enjoy the music you really have to be so mellow you make Buddha seem aggressive. The whammy bar still fills up the overdrive gauge but it doesn’t have any audio affect strangely enough. An additional I did like (by which I mean I fucking hated) was the three part harmonies, because when I’m playing and some tone deaf berk is singing in my ear the first thought I have is “golly this could only get better if I could get more of my friends whaling!” In theory the other singers have to sing in harmony but they can still score points if they follow the lead’s pitch not much point there.

The soundtrack includes their most popular hits, and if your favourite song wasn’t included don’t worry as Harmonix are releasing the Beatles’ discography as downloadable content – the bane of my existence, with the proceeds going to charity so at least this highway man has a conscience. Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s lonely hearts club band have been released with Rubber soul on its merry way. Personally I’m glad they have included the only songs I really like in the actual game as I can’t be arsed with DLC. In case you were wondering the songs I like are – A hard day’s night, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, yellow submarine and Back in the U.S.S.R so Harmonix could have released a game with just those four songs on and I would be happy – mind you they would have still charged full price.

The modes are the typical bunch; story which is the career mode – this also includes challenges to unlock archive videos/photographs of the Beatles to help you on your path to complete fanboydom. Solo/Band Quickplay is probably the best mode as it allows you or your friends to get straight into the action minus all the foreplay. Tug of War allows two players to play alternating sections of the same song; where as Score duel has both players play the song simultaneously. Training modes are available for all the instruments.

Before I wrap things up I feel that I should give a quick mention to the games graphics which are quite simply amazing. The visuals are like Crysis raped Borderlands and produced a mutant offspring. At times the visuals can be hallucinogenic which doesn’t represent their drug fueled period. Honest. The interface also represents the period they are in so for example when you are playing Yellow Submarine little pink unicorns float about – or was that just me? Clearly many man hours have gone into making the game look like a pair of designer dog’s bollocks, which is a shame since you have to concentrate on hitting the notes and the visuals can only be truly appreciated by the loser who visits your house uninvited to watch you play games and eat all your Doritos.

In conclusion the masses are right by saying TBRB is a prime example of how mature and accessible games have become – something that angers me to admit. The only real issue is that it’s simply hard to justify paying full price for what is essentially a stripped down version of Rock band solely so your impoverished friends can enjoy Beatles songs, however pretty the visuals are. It really boils down to whether you are really into the fab four or don’t have the latest editions of either series – if so then get it otherwise I wouldn’t bother as you’ll feel robbed, bit ironic considering they’re from Liverpool...