Okay, Meltdown, first off, don’t trust a consensus any more than you can throw it, and that goes a hundred times over for nerd consenses. Demand an explanation. I’ve heard a multitude of VG-related consenses in my life, and pretty much every single one of them is a complete 180 from what I believe. Don’t ever abandoned your eyes and ears, no matter how great the temptation gets. Once you start letting others decide what you think, there’s no turning back.
How old are you? The reason there was so much buzz about The Beatles is because this band was so incredibly hot while it was playing. Which was the late 60’s and early 70’s. If you weren’t there when it happened, you can’t understand what a mind-blowing time Beatlemania was. I wasn’t, and I don’t.
The strange thing is, I hear all the time about they’re the most influential band of all time and great and the standard all other rock bands are measured against and a monumental super mega awesome turning point in musical etc. etc…not one word about how enjoyable playing the songs on a video game is. (Or playing them on acutal instruments, for that matter.) Some of my favorite songs on both Guitar Hero and Rock Band are from bands I’d never heard of in my life: Story of My Life, Holy Diver, Radar Love, Time We Had, Holiday In Cambodia, E-Pro, and many others.
Which, I suppose, brings me to my point, that Beatles sounds to me like an incredibly lousy place to start, because it’s one band and one sound. Remember how I cited the sameness of the music as the reason I wasn’t going to get into Guitar Hero* even though it should’ve been a no-brainer for a rabid Bemani fan like me? Well, this is actually true for Beatles. You don’t even get guest acts like on GH’s three single band-themed games.
I mean, if you’re heard their music and enjoy it, it’s definitely worth it (and from what I’ve seen, the programmers really put a lot of thought into it), but make it your second game.
So yeah, 2 is the best place to start, but I absolutely recommend also picking up the first game cheap (which should be really easy now). Whether you want to get the whole package in one go or build your set piecemeal is up to you. For drums, you want a 2nd or later generation official Rock Band drum kit; nothing else is any good. Even if you already have a quality GH drum kit, get the real deal for RB; you’ll be happy for it later. As for the guitar, dry-run a number of models and see what you’re most comfortable with. Personally, I don’t like RB’s Stratocaster at all (strum bar doesn’t return to center correctly, fret keys a bit stiff, and the whole thing feels really cheap and flimsy overall), and my fancy-pantsy RedOctane guitar registers lots of phantom strums and I can never get the slider bar to work right. If there isn’t a specific reason you want frets low on the neck or a dedicated star power/overdrive button, I recommend a plain 'ol GH wireless. Any microphone is fine.
Unless you get the special Track Pack disks (I’m pretty sure they’re standalone, but they’re only 20 songs per), you have to go to the online store to get more songs. There are a lot to choose from, but they’re quite expensive compared to the default setlists. You don’t get to see the notecharts before buying, so make sure it’s a song you like. Buying a whole album or track pack at once will save you some bucks.
Aside from the ones already mentioned, the only other in-store game right now is the Lego one; as you might guess, this one’s more kid-oriented (something of a challenge to Band Hero). There’s reports that Guitar Hero 3 is in development. If you become fan of this game, you might want to wait you have that one before attempting to transfer anything between games. (The difference in interfaces is subtle, but definitely there.)
As for whether this is superior than Guitar Hero? If you’re playing solo, there’s no discernible difference. If you’re playing in a band, well…I have no idea. I’ve played both for several months now, and if there is some grand distinction, it’s completely eluded me. (Other than that Judy Nails is hot. )
Hope that helps. I have a feeling you’re going to love this game. Really, there isn’t much to not love.
- Just for the record, I had played it, but only briefly…someone else’s copy at a relative’s house. Mistake admitted and corrected, a’ight?