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The Beatles: Rock Band - Initial thoughts and some worry

Posted by: Dan at 3/5/2009 1:45 PM
With today's news release of the first details of The Beatles: Rock Band, I have mixed feelings about what we can and maybe should expect. As much as I love Rock Band and enjoy The Beatles, I will have to hold judgment (but not my speculative concern) on whether I will purchase this when I find out more details other than pricing, release date and which peripherals will work with it. What we don't know yet is whether other artists besides the Beatles will be on the game disc (doubtful), how many of the Beatles tracks will be on the disc and how (if at all) previous and future DLC will be incorporated.

As far as downloadable content goes, I hope that previous DLC will work with the game (not holding my breath), but it would not shock me one bit if we have to pay a fee (again?) for that privilege. I also have concern that the game will release with about 30 of the Beatles songs, but some of their best and most popular work may be held back as limited DLC strictly for this particular title. If that is the case, then my biggest fear that Harmonix is taking us down the path that Activision has gone with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (I am not a fan of the single band focus) may be coming true. Unfortunately, at first glance it sure looks like we may be headed in that direction. Doesn't it feel like Harmonix has led us from the robust catalogs of RB and RB 2 to an exclusive Wal-mart AC/DC $30 add-on disc and are now leading us by the short and curlys down the path to a $60 all-inclusive Beatles disc? Does that mean we can expect a U2 game in two years (after RB 3 comes out) and maybe an Elvis version after that? While we don't know this for sure, the natural development progression seems to indicate that a complete standalone title without (or with exclusive) DLC support is not out of the question.

For those of us that have invested hundreds of dollars into our Rock Band catalog, to release a version of the game that doesn't support those previous (and future) purchases could very well be a deal breaker for me. In fact, it is quite likely that I wont be picking this up (I didn't bother with AC/DC) if there isn't a way to utilize that previously downloaded music with the game. The reasoning is that I am of the opinion that the Rock Band experience is not just about playing through the campaign modes (local or online), but also hanging out and just casually playing random songs with your friends and family. Focusing on a single band may be fun for awhile, but if I cannot easily change my songs in my set from the Beatles to the Doors to the Chili Peppers, then the time it takes to swap out discs, load the game and set everything up just messes with the continuity of playing and cuts into your fun time.

I hope my concerns are for naught and Harmonix does us right. However, due to the notorious death grip that Apple Ltd has had over the Beatles catalog and the amount of watered down rhythm games getting cranked out in the name of the almighty dollar (looking straight at you Activision), then I fear it will either be all Beatles or Nothing for this title. Hopefully the next couple of months will see more information released and my fears put to rest. Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in the comments or forums.

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