When Mr Gibson first created the guitar out of a shoe box, a kitchen roll tube and some elastic bands little did he know that the instrument would go on to become so popular that in only a few generations’ time the world of gaming would be supplemented by plastic versions with buttons, sliders and accelerometers. When Guitar Hero launched on the PlayStation 2 it was billed as the next step in exciting home entertainment. The guitar itself was weirdly smaller than expected, giving rise to a growing feeling that what Activision really wanted to do was to resurrect the music of George Formby. As time passed we saw Rock Band enter the fray, Guitar Hero added drums and a microphone to become Band Hero, before going back to being a Guitar Game again pretty sharpish, while Rock Band decided that the world needed a little piano to play on.
The bubble burst and the ghost of Mr Gibson became restless.
Would we have to rely on the musical talents of No Direction to appreciate the finer aspects of the guitar? Would we need to endlessly emulate Bill and Ted’s air guitar celebration? Would somebody realise that the world still needed a guitar game?
Yes, they did. And now we have two due at once, and I am now going to write about one of them.
Guitar Hero was always my personal favourite in the rhythm music genre, despite the strong offerings from Harmonix’s Rock Band series I preferred the sense of fun in the GH franchise. I mean Rock Band may be good, but did it ever offer up a twenty minute playthrough of Rush’s 2112?
Of course not. It didn’t need to, but I loved these quirky moments in Guitar Hero. Be it duelling with Lou the Devil, striving to complete Through the Fire and Flames on expert or playing with some of the biggest icons of rock the series never let me down. So now with Guitar Hero Live on the horizon I started to get nervy as the franchise seemed to be heading to the less stylised Rock Band way of doing things.
I didn’t need to worry. The move is sensible and actually the only way that the series could ever find relevance again.
In short the biggest change is Guitar Hero TV.
A live, streaming music video channel that you can play along to.
In a time of Spotify and Apple Music the way in which we access and enjoy music has changed massively. The former DLC model for these games now seems archaic. I must have spent upwards of £800 on content for Rock Band and Guitar Hero over time. What do I really have to show for that? Sure I can dip back in at times, but when the servers are shut down I’ll have nothing. Giving me the chance to play thousands of songs without having to pay a dime is certainly appealing.
The shame here is that many will bemoan the fact that they don’t ‘own’ the track.
We never did though.
The current list of playable songs weighs in at over 100 tracks – check it out.
So, with EGX I had the chance to go beyond the Guitar Hero TV debate and actually get some hands on time with the guitar and game. The stand was housed inside a shipping container, with an amp design on one side and an underground music club on the inside. It was very cool, and provided the perfect area to try (and fail) at the new game. The guitar has been redesigned with the revolutionary change since the series first hit. Gone are the five coloured buttons, being replaced by three rows of two buttons. These are split into three white and three black notes and as such create a more ‘authentic’ representation of a guitar’s neck. Chords are easier as a result, but I wasn’t ready for that just yet, in fact even on medium difficulty the game kicked my arse for the first quarter of the track. I have always been a ‘lay finger over button’ rather than a ‘finger tip’ player. This was something I had to change, and once I got used to the required fingering I was a lot better (ending on 69% accuracy). The FMV footage added to the experience, although I have to profess that I really didn’t have much time to stare at it while the notes were flying fast and furious.
The demo ended with a cheer and I left the container stage feeling like a Guitar Hero, like I could rescue a kitten from a burning tree with the power of my guitar prowess. Can’t ask much more than that.
My pre-order is now placed, will you be jumping in? If so consider ordering via us to help support the site and show?