So after what seems like years of absence, Guitar Hero Live has come rocking back onto our stage. I (Rob Pearce, guest reviewer) played the Guitar Hero series extensively with Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock being my favourite of the series so far. I played that game so much in fact that I attribute it to me passing my works aptitude and reaction tests to it. As you can imagine then I was rather pleased and excited when Guitar Hero Live was announced and like many others, I instantly wondered how this new version would differ from past versions.
Freestyle Games have taken up the role of development this time around and I think it’s a credit to them that you wouldn’t really know unless you were told. The game feels satisfyingly familiar. They’ve kept things focused on the guitar which is where we see the first difference and perhaps the the biggest change in the latest version of the franchise. Instead of the 5 colour coded single row of buttons, we now have 2 rows of 3 buttons . This gives a surprisingly authentic feel to the instrument and provides a new challenge for even the most experienced player. It’s probably a good time to mention the difficulty options and perhaps my first concern or disappointment.
We’ve got ‘Basic’ difficulty where all you are required to do is strum in time without using any other button. ‘Casual’ requires you to strum and use the bank of 3 white buttons, with ‘Regular’, ‘Advanced’ and ‘Expert’ making use of all the guitar’s buttons in increasing difficulty. My main concern is that the jump from Casual to Regular felt a bit steep to me, especially with some tracks and I’d have liked to have seen Casual throw in the occasional black button just to ease you into the Regular difficulty as it’s quite a shock at first when you’re fumbling around trying to hit the right notes . That being said, in time things seem to click and you’ll soon find you’re hitting more and more of the notes.
Players will find themselves advancing and eventually maybe even reaching Expert difficulty which is just insane and beyond my capabilities for now at least. The game releases with hundreds of songs playable on day one with favourites from; The Killers , Queen, Linkin Park , Rage Against The Machine, The Who and many many more. There should be something for everyone but some of the tracks did admittedly feel out of place such as Eminem ‘Berserk’ which I personally didn’t feel like I was actually a part of the track. Over all I feel they’ve got a fantastic library of songs and with many more promised, things look very good indeed.
You’ll find two game modes to choose from; Guitar Hero Live and Guitar Hero TV. Guitar Hero Live sees you joining your virtual band mates on stage playing a set list in front of a live crowd. The crowd and your band mates will react to you depending on whether you’re hitting the notes or hopelessly flailing around, missing everything. I found the crowd to be an excellent addition although it was quite distracting at first as I tried to admire the effort that had gone into making me into a rockstar. I found it hugely satisfying when I finished a track strongly and was applauded by the crowd and it was equally horrifying when things went badly with the crowd booing and jeering and in some cases throwing things at me.
Fortunately you always have the chance to turn things around . As you progress through the live mode you unlock new tracks as you’d expect. All in all, it felt fresh yet familiar but I do think more could have been done to incorporate a story into this mode. Guitar Hero TV is billed as the world’s first playable music video network and rather surprisingly I find this is where the guts of the game truly lies. GHTV is a continuous broadcast of music videos where you play along competing with players over the internet and against offline scores whilst enjoying the hundreds of videos that are available, spanning all different genres of music, with new videos continually added to the line-up. You’ll be able to discover and play new songs all the time and earn in game credits that allow you to unlock new features, songs and more.
As you level up to level 4 you’ll be able to unlock new fret board designs and skins to suit your taste. At level 6 you’ll find yourself invited to premium shows which one of the developers said in a past interview, “will be great to play and give players a unique way to access some amazing gameplay experiences, which we are hoping could range from amazing live concert footage to exclusive ‘First to Air’ music videos. On top of this, players will get a chance to win a plethora of prizes. For example, there will be some unique Note Highways that are also exclusive to the premium show of Guitar Hero Live that they are won from. Bespoke Player cards will also be available, along with Status rewards that help you to level up faster. There will also be Coin Boosts (to speed up your in game currency accumulation), discounts for shop items, and maybe even early access to new music within GHTV, to name a few”.
GHTV is a great addition although it’s a shame you have to use in game coins to gain instant access to your favourite songs unless you don’t mind waiting for them to naturally come round again. For £4.79 you can unlock all songs for 24hrs but I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s something you’re likely to do.
In conclusion, Guitar Hero Live offers a fresh feeling yet familiar experience that is both challenging yet satisfying. Freestyle Games have done a great job with the latest addition to the franchise. There are a few niggles like the menus being awkward to navigate with the guitar but all in all I’m pleased with the game and feel it offers value for money.
Review written by Rob Pearce, who played Guitar Hero Live on an Xbox One.
[Source: Chuck us a VB]