You thought this was going to be Dance Central? Didn’t see that coming, did you, John Drake?
Placing in GOTY list: third, 2009|Watch a Cullen Plays LIVE live stream of The Beatles: Rock Band right now here
One thing that is most infamously remembered from my time at VG247 is those two bloody Dance Central videos I did at gamescom in Cologne, Germany. The first, in 2010, was set to the accompanying soundtrack of No Doubt’s Hella Good with backing vocals consisting of the laughter of my former boss Pat Garratt. The second in 2011 with Dance Central 2, featuring Like a G6, this time with ‘backup’ with Harmonix’s John Drake.
But the year I started out with VG247 in 2009, it was when Rock Band euphoria was still at its height. Whilst 2011 more or less signaled the music games crash with Activision shutting up shop on Guitar Hero and DJ Hero whilst interest more or less was gone elsewhere (with the obvious exception of continued DLC support for Rock Band 3), 2009 saw me getting into The Beatles ahead of the Rock Band game that would drop.
See, the thing is I nicked my sister’s copy of the hits album that came out at the start of the millennium long before it, but that was my only experience with the ‘Fab Four’ up to that point. I saw Beatles: Rock Band as a kind of gateaway to properly get into The Beatles properly outside of 1.
That was more or less the point of The Beatles: Rock Band, or at least one point that helped it, to try and get more people who weren’t into their music 40 years or so on from their breakup and that infamous rooftop concert on Apple Corp 45 years ago next month, which is featured along with other famous moments from the band’s career, including The Ed Sullivan Show, its infancy at The Cavern, the show at Shea Stadium and its seclusion into Abbey Road in its later years.
But The Beatles: Rock Band was also a unique experience for the band due to the sheer fact it was actually a thing that happened in the first place thanks to it being one of the biggest, if not the biggest, collections in music. Look at Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road – two of the finest albums ever made in history – as two examples of that. Add in the fact it was making its music available to download for the first time anywhere, 14-15 months before they finally made it available on iTunes too – All You Need is Love was available on launch day, with full album releases for Abbey Road, Sgt Pepper and Rubber Soul subsequently following.
Part of the fun with Rock Band is playing it with friends at whatever social gathering shenanigans that’s going on. In the six years that Rock Band has been around for, I’ve not done that once, nor have I played any instrument as a result besides guitar or bass due to various reasons, both for my eternal shame (but perhaps to the gratefulness of other people).
Yet, The Beatles: Rock Band is still a standout game from this entire generation for me. Not because of the social aspect or what not, but because it brought together a huge heritage (if slightly sugercoated from the band’s later infighting) from one of the finest groups of musicians to ever grace this planet, because the art design is just fantastically done and at times lush and beautiful to behold for some songs (look at Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help from My Friends and Here Comes The Sun as an example).
But more importantly, because it was fun to play some of the finest music to have ever been created. I never had as much fun playing a music game – or any game for that matter – this generation than when playing Helter Skelter or Revolution on Hard (with the super fast modifier also turned on) or just playing The End in Abbey Road at the end of the game’s career mode.
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,” McCartney says in that final song of the game. Anything Harmonix does is done with care and respect to music. After all, music is in its DNA and it’s something they truly care about, you can see it in their games – past, present and future. But The Beatles: Rock Band was a lovingly crafted love letter from the developer, not just to The Beatles, but to music as a whole. Outstanding.
Highlight: Playing the Abbey Road melody once the entire album was released as DLC.
More Game of the Generation articles will be arriving throughout the day up until 9pm GMT with the Game of the Generation. Find the full list so far here, with special and honourable mentions going live on the list along with the GOTG at 9pm.