Harmonix offered us a preview of The Beatles: Rock Band, giving us a chance to see what separates the Fab Four's entry from previous Rock Band titles. Most notable among them are the game's story mode, prizes and "Beatle Beats".
As Harmonix and MTV Games have said from the beginning, The Beatles: Rock Band will be a "progression through and celebration of the music and artistry of The Beatles". That's clearly present when playing the game's story mode, which follows the group's rise to fame from the Cavern Club in 1963 to its recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios and, finally, to the band's performance on the rooftop of Apple Corps headquarters.
Perhaps the coolest aspect of The Beatles: Rock Band's story mode are the unlockables Harmonix will include.
Harmonix previewed a handful of those for us, including The Beatles Christmas record, a fan club-only giveaway from 1963 that Rock Band players will be able to play and pore over.
Serious Beatles fans will likely understand how coveted this particular single is—the band only pressed 25,000 copies, not something many people have heard. While we listened to that rare record, the camera panned across the Christmas record's sleeve, a fun look, but don't touch prize that The Beatles: Rock Band owners can access by completing songs.
Harmonix appears to have been given deep access to The Beatles' archives, with unlockable photos—we saw some from the group's residency at the Cavern Club—available to those who spend more time with the game. Expect to see Beatles factoids and unlockable cinematics joining the prize list alongside rare photographs and cool bonuses like the Christmas record.
During our preview, we got a peek at some of the various stages of the band's career. We played the Cavern Club, then played through one of the game's "dreamscapes." We were transported from Abbey Road Studios to a more psychedelic setting, our performance bookended by never-before-heard studio chatter—instrument tuning and loose conversation between The Beatles and producer George Martin.
Another aspect of The Beatles: Rock Band that might give fans a new appreciation for the band is the game's drum trainer, dubbed Beatle Beats. In short, it teaches the player the subtleties of Ringo Starr's drumming style, tutoring Rock Band drummers on his trademark fills. Beatle Beats breaks out some of Starr's more famous beats, an opportunity to appreciate his regularly under-appreciated skills.
The interface for The Beatles: Rock Band's Beatle Beats should be familiar to Rock Band 2 drummers, with speed and beats-per-minute data, and a note highway preview flanking the standard beat highway.
The Beatles: Rock Band may not boast the sheer numbers of its predecessors, but based on the archival material that Harmonix and MTV included in the game, it's clear great attention to detail has been given to the game. We're looking forward to pursuing our own Beatles career when the game ships next month.