Guitar Hero Live Review

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Guitar Hero’ rejoins music game competition.

Guitar Hero is back. Guitar Hero Live is about as bold and ambitious a reimagining of the rock music game genre as we could realistically hope for, especially from an incumbent franchise. For most it’s just an idle thought, or the occasional strum of a tennis racket in front of the mirror, but as soon as you get Guitar Hero’s plastic controller in your hands suddenly your head is filled with rock star fantasises you never knew you had. That’s always been one of the key appeals of music games, and it’s only the games industry’s tendency to milk an idea to death as quickly as possibly, rather than leaving it time to breathe and grow, that ensured plastic guitars went from cultural icon to the fad-under-the-stairs as quickly as they did. Activision’s next-gen title doesn’t come with any drugs or sex, but it does let players step into the rock-and-roll lifestyle of their favorite stars.

Game studio FreeStyleGames auditioned real musicians and filmed them as they played gigs for real crowds to create live-action footage for the game. “We needed people who could really behave like a really tight band so when we put the player in the middle of that everyone else is a rock star and it’s up to the player to step up and fill that place as the lead guitarist,” said Nathan Coppard, senior designer from FreeStyleGames, which previously created the DJ Hero games. The mobile version of the game is available as a bundle with a guitar controller that works across Apple devices, letting fans live out the rockstar experience anytime, anywhere. But while some things have changed the basics of the genre are exactly the same as ever: icons stream down the screen at you, indicating when you should press the buttons on your guitar controller. And the crowd gets into the act, too. “Literally, if you are doing well the crowd loves you, but if you are doing poorly they start to throw beer cups at you,” said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. “That is a pretty cool way to escalate that rock star fantasy.” The 100-plus song playlist runs from Rock & Roll Hall of Famers (Queen, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, ZZ Top) and alternative (The Clash, Pearl Jam) to modern rock (The Black Keys, the War on Drugs) and poppier rock (Charli XCX, Ed Sheeran). Other new twists include a GHTV online video network lets you play the game to music videos and compete online with others for top scores (you have to have your game system connected to the Net to play).

That probably sounds overcomplicated but on the easier difficultly levels you only use one row of buttons and there are no chords, which makes it easier than previous Guitar Heroes have ever been. You need only use three fingers rather than the traditional four or five, which means no more sliding your hand back and forth on the handle and remembering which of the five colour-coded buttons your fingers are resting on. If you really want to show off your talent, submit a clip via the app of yourself performing Ed Sheeran’s “Sing”; the winners will be featured in a world premiere music video also playable in the game. Activision announced its return to the stage in April—one month after rival Harmonix revealed its upcoming launch of Rock Band 4 for PS4 and Xbox One.

And if you see a note represented as a black and white rectangle it means you need to press both the top and bottom buttons on that line at the same time. GHTV is a living, breathing platform that will launch with hundreds of songs and will continue to grow, with new songs added weekly, serving as an ever-expanding source for music discovery while bringing the party atmosphere back to the living room. They still react to your performance well enough and for us are a much better option than the poorly detailed, cartoonish figures in other music games.

Those who don’t a console video game system can get at retail ($99.99) and in Apple’s app store ($49.99) and play on iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch (a version is in the works for Apple TV, too). Fans can win fame playing solo or with their friends in local head-to-head multiplayer, and online against other players trying to master the same song.

It quickly becomes clear that the campaign mode is really not worth the trouble of all the live action footage, and not only is it over very quickly but the derision you’ll feel for your fellow musicians makes it impossible to care what’s going on. It could be because I have short fingers, which means I sometimes have difficulty reaching over the bottom row to press the top without the meat of my lower digits accidentally depressing the lower buttons. It might have something to do with the fact my monkey brain was trained for years to play plastic guitars one way and now can’t handle learning something different. Starting today, fans can experience the GHTV premiere of the Avenged Sevenfold Premium Show, including playable concert footage recorded at the band’s recent headlining performance at England’s venerable Download Festival.

Guitar Hero might have an advantage in this round of the competition, Digital World Research’s McNealy said. “Guitar Hero has much bigger brand value … Or maybe it’s because a window-like icon pops up above the fret bar on the note highway whenever you tap a fret button, and the top of that window touching the bottom of the approaching note makes me feel like I need to strum a fraction of a second earlier than I actually do.

I think inherently there would be a bigger audience for Guitar Hero given the legacy. “Activision hasn’t had many big swings and misses in the last five years. There’s matchmaking for finding you a partner online and the various themed playlists change so often it’s easy to get sucked in for hours even when you’re on your own. The game switches to displaying music videos in the background instead of the crowd, which is slightly odd, but the problem with GHTV is that it’s also designed as an alternative to traditional DLC.

And, sadly, casual – which uses just the lower three fret buttons and ignores the top three completely – is way too easy to be much fun for anyone other than beginners. I will admit that my problems with the new guitar controller could end up being an individual thing (though, it’s worth noting, my daughter struggled as well).

For the casual player, who’s not too bothered about what they play as long as they can find something they like, it actually seems a very fair deal that would likely see them spending less than if there’d been traditional DLC. Toys“R”Us [®] has already placed the game on the company’s 2015 Fabulous 15 list, which highlights products expected to be the most sought-after and anticipated items of the holiday season.

We’re still not sure why Activision couldn’t also give you the option to buy a song if you want, but perhaps that will come later if there’s enough call for it. For more information, please visit,,, or follow @guitarhero on Twitter and Instagram.

It’s still just basic stuff like increasing the score multiplayer or reducing the number of notes for a short period, so it seems a bit odd to separate it out like that – until you realise it’s also an excuse for microtransactions. I’m pretty sure the live crowd turns CGI if you look far enough back (outdoor scene backgrounds are obviously green screened), but I can’t tell exactly where or when the transition happens. One gig you’ll be in a metal group in a pitch black auditorium with dudes in long beards handing you axes between songs, the next you might be in an all-girl band on an outdoor stage with a makeup assistant brushing your face just before the set starts. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing’s actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q.

You can’t choose your songs in each set, there’s no opportunity for rock star avatar customization, and it’s a decidedly single-player experience. Qualifying postpaid Simple Choice plan required. “PlayStation” and “PS3” are registered trademarks and “PS4” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. You can choose between a couple of music video channels that run 24-7 with half hour and hour segments devoted to specific subgenres of rock, like metal, classic, indie, and hits. Experience raises your guitar hero level and unlocks perks, including new types of hero powers – score multipliers, invincibility, and bombs that hit all upcoming notes for you – that you can unleash by tapping the guitar controller’s new Hero Power button, located behind the strummer (under your wrist while playing). This gives you an opportunity to play new music of your own choosing without ever paying – a novel idea for rock ‘n’ roll games, which typically rely on players buying DLC in the form of new tracks.

Activision and Freestyle Games have pledged to keep adding to and upgrading the TV mode, providing plenty of incentive for folks to return to see what’s new months or potentially even years down the line. While playing you’ll see the names of other players online on the left hand side of the screen, and scoring higher than these competitors earns you more cash and experience.

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