First and foremost OMG, thanks Activision for the support and this awesome goody Pack for us to work with and enjoy Guitar Hero Live
From the moment I started playing “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest in a grubby Gamestation store in Nottingham in 2005, I knew it was going to be special. Since that life changing 5 minutes and 7 seconds, I’ve owned, played and indeed rocked on every Guitar Hero game released, (including the ingenious Nintendo DS versions) and though not all of them have been great, they’ve been a stable part of my teenage years and my rise to popularity amongst my fellow students. Last Summer I dusted off my PS3, picked up my plastic Gibson Les Paul, got into my power stance and hit that first cord … and it wasn’t long before I realised that even at 24 I was too old for this shit. 12 months later a reboot, Guitar Hero Live is announced, I didn’t even batter an eye lid as I’d retired from casual guitar sorcery and had no intention to get excited for it and jump on the plastic band wagon. Well that failed. Like a hugely anticipated band reunion, we’ve come back together better, stronger and full of fresh new ideas and you know what, there’s still enough gas in the ole gal yet! Guitar Hero is back, it’s live and it’s ready to blow!
Guitar Hero Live is the latest release in the critically acclaimed and much loved franchise that bursts onto the scene after a 5 year hiatus and boy does it return with new material. Packed with a brand new guitar controller, gone are the 5 multi coloured buttons and instead, behold, 6 brand new buttons that completely change how the game is tackled and how the controller is played. The game itself features the typical Guitar Hero “campaign” as you’ve come to expect however the cartoony presentation and animated characters have been substituted for live action performers and crowds that woo or boo at your command. The game’s biggest asset however is a true game-changer, a truly innovative feature called Guitar Hero TV, or GHTV as its referred to as, is a playable music video service which really separates this title from the its back catalogue. Providing a brand new way to play in both the controller and features, Activision and FreeStyle Games have clearly worked hard to revitalise the once successful franchise and deliver something new, but does it sound as good as it does on paper? To strum it up in one word, yesitbloodydoes!
Picking up the new controller was a really daunting task. Looking down the new guitar’s neck and seeing a top row of 3 black buttons and a bottom row of 3 white buttons may not appear to be challenging, but jeez it’s difficult to get your head around. FreeStyle Games have tried to make the new controller appear more realistic when playing, and with the new 2 layered button system it actually looks like you’re pulling off legitimate chords. It took a good hour or 2 but me and Jimmy finally nailed the button combinations comfortably enough to enjoy the game with decent difficulty. Once I wrapped my head around the new button placements I actually couldn’t imagine playing the game without them, the thought of a green, red, yellow, blue and orange led track just sounds lame. There’s no denying that the old guitar hero games were challenging, even with buttons aligned in a simple straight line, but the new layout adds a much more satisfying level of difficulty. This new way to play is a definitely an incredible improvement and one that too makes you look less of a douche when playing, I honestly couldn’t go back to an older Guitar Hero game now. The guitar itself feels well made and durable as it’s a touch heavier than previous models but it doesn’t once feel uncomfortable dangling from your neck. Connecting the instrument to your console is straightforward what with a simple USB wireless dongle and batteries … WHICH ARE INCLUDED IN YOUR BUNDLE! HOLY SHIT THE APOCOLYPSE IS UPON US?
Guitar Hero Live’s single player campaign is a double edged sword in my opinion. The live audience reacting to how you play, your band mates throwing banter at you on stage, the rodies handing you your instrument, all of these are impressive and have been well produced that clearly show the hard work that has gone into making this title, but on the other hand it’s too serious and cringey to say the least. When Guitar Hero launched it was a cartoony guitar simulator that asked you to play re-recorded covers of your favourite rock songs with a wired guitar that looked like it came from The Early Learning Centre, it was a bit of daft fun and it didn’t take itself too seriously, however now it has tried to do just that and it doesn’t feel right. I’ve got my band making compliments to me, my rodies are polite and the crowd are holding up generic, out of place posters for me. Where are the scenes of drug abuse, hookers and piss stained pants? If we’re going all serious then we mustn’t skimp out on any parts of the rock n roll life style surely. The quality of footage though is mighty impressive and if you get past the cheesy encouragement you do begin to feel like a Demi-God and when they boo for you it’s tough not to laugh, it’s just a shame there’s no in-between, you’re either the best band ever or a stinking pile of Nickelback. Completing each set list, which nicely runs through continuously without a break, unlocks that fictional band’s biography, just another way of showing how much thought has been put into the campaign mode, even if the featured tracks aren’t to everyone’s taste. Guitar Hero Live tries to include tracks from all aspects of the rock spectrum, and what an incredibly wide and vague spectrum that is, featuring the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Mumford & Sons and Rhianna; you’re right to think that some, if not most of the set lists are a chore to sit through.
Guitar Hero TV, GHTV, to put it simply is excellent. At the push of a button you can fire up GHTV and jump right into a continuously streaming playlist whether you’ve joined it at the top of the hour in the middle of a song. At the time of writing there are currently 2 channels to play through (with a 3rd launching soon) that will just stream an endless wave of heavy metal legends, rock classics or indie hits from the huge range of tracks available to jump in and out of to your heart’s content. You don’t actually own these tracks however, but they are there for you whenever you want to play them, but they will cost you to some degree. Guitar Hero has done away with DLC but has instead launched Hero Cash, a virtual currency that allows you to play specifically selected tracks that you earn for being a beast, or a virtual currency you can buy with real cash if you don’t want to wait for a particular track to appear in the channel. In all honesty, you shouldn’t ever need to spend your real cash to play particular tracks at your command because you unlock enough of them playing through the campaign and the pre-determined playlists. Also the channels themselves are so well put together and presented that the act of suspense and surprise for what’s next makes that mode so special as you never know when a new track has been added to the game. GHTV is like watching an actual music channel, it features previews of tracks you should try and little GHTV imaging stabs like it’s taking a commercial break, once again the thought and detail that has gone into this title is incredible. GHTV is a remarkable and innovative achievement that has paved the way for how these games will be accessible in the future, there’s really no need for them to make more Guitar Hero games when they can just release dozens of new tracks via the channels every month. GHTV is what gives Guitar Hero Live it’s worth.
Guitar Hero Live is a fantastic title and a more than worthy return for the franchise as everything about it is a huge stage dive in the right direction. The new controller now offers a genuine level of difficulty that requires a lot of skill, attention and puzzle solving, unlike the controllers of old that relied more on repetition and simply moving your fingers along the neck. The single player mode is fun and incredibly well created, however it takes itself a bit too seriously which makes for more of a cringey playing experience than its predecessors did. GHTV is an outstanding feature simply because it works so well and brings actual innovation to the franchise opposed to stick to what’s safe which Rock Band 4 has unfortunately done. GHTV is addictive and exhilarating which offers players an endless stream of excellent, challenging tracks and anthems that is just as fun playing for the 10th time as it was the first time. With new tracks being added already and new premium set lists becoming available throughout the year, Guitar Hero Live is more than just another Guitar Hero game, it’s the beginning of the future. For those about to rock, I salute you!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.