Ahh the memories. The Guitar Hero franchise once ruled the games industry. In it was a primal urge to be better than the next person. It was survival of the fittest in virtual guitar. If someone couldn’t play the game on the hardest setting, nobody paid attention. It was a great time…ten years ago. In the years since the dust has settled (both figuratively and physically). The series seemed to lose its luster and all faded away like the ending to our favorite songs.
In 2014 word spread that Activision was bringing back the series to be developed by Freestyle Games and opinions were mixed. Did anyone really care anymore?
I didn’t think I did; until I picked up the guitar and began playing. Guitar Hero Live takes all the fun parts of the previous titles, but puts you in the middle of it. Previous titles had a cartoonish looking band playing in the background which represented you. It was fun, but made me personally feel like I was playing from the side of the stage. This time you’re right in the action. The game plays from a first person view in which you are the guitarist on stage with the band. Everything is real, there’s no more cartoonish characters. It’s extremely immersive.
While the buttons you need to push in order to play along with the song stream down the screen, the icons of each button appear as guitar picks, where they used to be different colored virtual buttons. Before I dig into that experience, let’s talk about the guitar hardware.
This is ten steps above what previous titles included.The device feels like it’s made for quality, the trigger for picking is more responsive and the trem bar is also more responsive. What used to be five buttons in a single row on the guitar is now 6 buttons, but in two rows, three buttons each. This makes it easier for gamers who don’t use their pinkies to game, but honestly also makes it more difficult overall. Because there are two rows of buttons on the fretboard and because the icons onscreen are picks, the only way the game discerns from what is a lower row press or a higher row press is the direction the pick faces. If you’re playing on a harder difficulty it becomes almost impossible in my opinion to figure out lower or higher row. Now this is something that I’m sure will be corrected with experience, it can be really frustrating for a while.
The modes of gameplay consist of Career Mode, GHTV and practice. I had a great time with career mode because, as I stated before, I felt like part of the band. If I was playing well, the crowd went nuts and my band mates would come over and jam with me. If I played horribly, the crowd would boo and my band mates would come over, give me dirty looks and ask me what my problem was. This, again was cool because, again, I felt immersed in the game.
GHTV is where the true fun lies. It’s a 24 hour music streaming channel in which you can jump in and play the song that’s currently streaming. I played this mode for what seemed like days straight. Music videos for these songs play in the background as you jam along and really makes all those years of playing air guitar to MTV videos feel like it wasn’t a waste.
Overall, previous fans of the series will feel right at home jumping back in, and those new to the series should find this game pretty addictive as well, unless you don’t like guitar, or music, in which you probably don’t like video games either.
Guitar Hero Live is a must try, and for me, a must keep playing.