“Who ever thought we’d end up as androids?” laughed Sir Paul McCartney, giddily strumming the air guitar onstage this morning alongside fellow Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr for a select crowd of journalists and technology trendsetters in Los Angeles. On-hand to promote The Beatles: Rock Band, the pair joined Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison onstage at Microsoft’s press conference, held in advance of annual game industry confab the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), which opens tomorrow.
Due for release September 9th on PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii, the game features creative input from all, including contributions by Dhani Harrison, son of the late George, who was instrumental in the project’s creation. As members of the Fab Four, represented on-screen by 3D virtual avatars, players can strum on guitar, sing or play drums along with the band to smash hits including “Here Comes the Sun” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” Hitting stores the same day the Beatles’ entire digitally remastered catalog arrives on CD, 45 tracks will be playable courtesy of Rock Band developer Harmonix. Ten were revealed today, ranging from “Back in the USSR” to “Octopus’s Garden,” “I Am the Walrus” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” while the complete Abbey Road album will be available for download at launch. According to music supervisor Giles Martin, all tracks have been remastered for optimum quality. (Watch the game’s trailer below.)
“The game is good, the graphics are good, and we look great,” chuckled Starr. So too did the game’s introductory movie, previewed for the first time, a head-spinning montage of anthropomorphic suns, Donnie Darko-esque rabbit-headed performers and vintage-era concert sets. Like actual gameplay itself, the video spans the decades from 1963 Liverpool to the band’s psychedelic years. Fashion, scenery and artistic styles will change to reflect each period, with classic performances highlighted running the gamut from the band’s unforgettable appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show to its seminal gig at Budokan in Tokyo.
Good vibes should further extend to first downloadable single “All You Need is Love” as well. On sale the day the game hits retail exclusively via Xbox Live, all proceeds from purchase of the digitally distributed track will be donated to international emergency relief organization Doctors Without Borders.
As demonstrated live by the Harmonix House Band, whose three singers helped round out a sunny rendition of “Day Tripper,” multi-part vocal harmonies will allow for collaborative vocal performances. The disc will additionally feature previously unreleased voice recordings from Abbey Road studio sessions, showcasing George, Paul, John and Ringo chatting between takes.
“The Beatles started many revolutions,” said MTV Networks president Van Toffler. “They launched the tech revolution, coming into a black and white world and exploding in psychedelic color.” Presumably, now they’ll be able to do so again right from your basement, and in high definition.