Occasionally here at Player2.net.au we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Guitar Hero Live
There was a time, not so long ago, when you couldn’t walk into a games store without tripping over piles of plastic instruments. Between Rock Band and Guitar Hero (and their spin offs…. DJ Hero anyone?) gamers everywhere were taking up the rock mantle and jamming in front of their TV screens. People were living out their music fantasies, pretending they were Brian May, Slash or Jimmy Page in front of thousands at Wembley stadium. But then something happened. The world moved on and left these plastic instruments behind. Whether it was due to over saturation or perhaps lethargy with the concept people no longer wanted the virtual rock star experience. But just like a good 80’s rock act a comeback was always on the cards and sure enough for the first time in 5 years there is a new Guitar Hero game on the shelves. The question is however does it recapture the glory days or come across as nothing but a nostalgia cash grab.
The first thing that people will notice is the new control scheme. Gone is the traditional 5 button configuration and in its place is a 6 button setup in two rows. Three buttons on the top and three immediately below. It doesn’t take long to get used to this new system and it adds some complexity to the songs that was lacking previously. It feels a little more like playing a guitar as well with more natural finger placements and chord simulations. Many may want to stick to the old way of doing things (still present in Rock Band 4) but it is a nice change for those looking for a challenge.
There are two main modes to Guitar Hero Live. The first is the career mode which sees players taking on sets of songs in front of a FMV crowd and band. The structure of the mode is very familiar to the old games and to be honest the FMV neither adds nor subtracts from the experience. The biggest problem with this mode is the song selection. The plain fact is that there is very little in the way of guitar heavy music on the soundtrack. The big draw of the old Guitar Hero games was the fantasy of being a rock star nailing guitar solo’s while standing in the perfect power stance. It is fair to say that songs by Rhianna, Katy Perry and Mumford and Sons don’t give that feeling. There are a few nice tracks that do give the simulation of rock stardom (Halestorm’s Love Bites is a real highlight to play) but these are few and far between.
The second part of the game is where the “live” part comes into it and it is both the most exciting and the most disappointing feature of the game. This modes sees players jumping on an MTV style music channel playing music film clips as the come along. There is no way to know what is coming next and there is an enormous variety of music to play. All genres are well represented and there is sure to be something for everyone. The disappointing part of this mode revolves around the ability to pick songs that you would like to play more than once. This is done buy using a “play” token earned in game or purchased with real money (damn micro transactions). Every time the song is played another play token is used and there is no way to purchase the song outright. This is the single biggest problem with the whole game and is likely to put many off the experience permanently. Otherwise the mode is a lot of fun, especially with two or more players.
In the end Guitar Hero Live is neither the second coming of rhythm games nor an abject failure. It sits somewhere in between those extremes. The excellent live mode and new control system is let down by a poor song selection and some money hungry micro transactions. This is a game for people that have a group of friends willing to have a few drinks and pretend to be rock stars together but even these people may be better served waiting for the game to inevitably come down in price.