(EA for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
You’ve gotta hand it to Harmonix. After getting permission to create a Beatles version of Rock Band, the developers could’ve just floated around with hands behind their heads in inflatable lounge chairs, safe in the knowledge that even if they created a crappy game, some of the greatest music of all time would be there to ensure its success. Just follow the template of the Aerosmith and Metallica versions of Guitar Hero, plunk the Fab Four in, and bag the money, right? Well, Harmonix has consistently proven itself to be not just another developer, and it treats The Beatles: Rock Band as a responsibility just as much as an opportunity. At its core, the game is a Beatles-tailored version of the tried-and-true Rock Band formula, pure and simple. But it’s crafted with an affection and purity of vision that is impossible not to admire. There aren’t any “opening act” tracks from other artists to broaden the appeal, no modern-day reimagining of Beatles songs by pop artists like some American Idol horror show, no agenda beyond creating the ultimate Beatles music game. It’s crazy to think of such an enormous project as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, but that’s what it is: Here is the Beatles’ music – if you’re not interested, there are other options on the shelf. It’s the quintessential rock ‘n’ roll attitude, and inspiration no doubt came from the source material, since the latter-day Beatles were certainly concerned with matters far beyond the commercial viability of their music. The Beatles: Rock Band is a lean, mean game that doesn’t overextend itself. Reinventing the music game can wait until tomorrow. This is a celebration.