Features// Rhythm and the Revolution

Posted 25 Jul 2008 17:41 by
With World Tour, however, Guitar Hero has upped its game. At last. Activision and pals have realised that although they hit the scene first, they are in severe trouble in the rad-and-minty stakes, and a different design of guitar just isn't good enough. They've had to step up the peripherals to include a drum kit but, topping Rock Band, with cymbals!
E3 trailer

Certainly this is going to appeal to all the (and I include myself in this adjective) deluded Rock-Banders who now think they can play drums in real life and wake up their bed mates by playing the drum beat to Maps in their sleep; annoying their colleagues by tapping it on the back of their chairs at work; bemusing passers-by as they attempt to tap dance it as they walk down the street. Unfortunately, if the rest of the universe is anything like me there aint nothin' goin' on but the rent, and a new set of peripherals is (for once) not as important as other luxuries like food and petrol.

World Tour has adopted the character and instrument customisations which are, in my humble opinion, indispensable. It has added a recording studio element where you can record your own tracks and, like the heightened realism of the instruments, it is designed to bring wannabe rockers one-step closer to doing the real thing.

Doing it for real.
Doing it for real.
I'm not fussed about the recording studio element. I think that is probably a step too far along the ?Oh just go and do it for real? spectrum for me. I have no inspiration; that's why I play games rather than downloading some very simple software and actually create music. But perhaps there are some youngsters in their bedroom who are yearning for this and just don't know it yet - like Mike Skinner from the Streets. On top of this you can battle other bands online, which is going to lead to hours of fun I imagine, though I have been wrong about online playing before.

Whenever I mention rhythm games such as these I am accosted by my editor who berates me and all players of such games for not just buying instruments and starting a band, his spectrum being so short as to be 2D.

He bemoans the fate of the talented young people whose potential to transform the music industry and revolutionise society through their genre-breaking tunes is negated by wasting time replicating on inaccurate substitutes for instruments, the music of the past rather than rocketing the world forward on a powerhorse of fire into a golden new millennium of peace, love and understanding. And multi-being, multi-love, multi-species, multi-dimensional alien tantric sex, though I don't know quite how the music will help there. (I object to most of that, but not the last bit).

So why do we do it? I was given ample opportunity as a child to learn guitar. I had a very patient jazz musician with an immense beard and dreads don his brown corduroy jacket and struggle manfully to teach me Hot Cross Buns for four weeks before we went for a walk up the garden (no euphemism).

I tried to explain, as tactfully as I could at nine years of age, that I was not musically gifted and that, although his presence was appreciated and enjoyable, it would ultimately prove to be fruitless. Yet I can play rhythm games, just about, and this has rebuilt the lost confidence which was carried away on the broad shoulders of that man as he left my parents cottage, guitar strung over his back many years ago.

As to whether this spells the end for new, inspired music, I know three people who've started real drum lessons now and I would love some too, if only money weren't too tight to mention, and many singers and song writers have cut their teeth on home karaoke sets over the last twenty odd years. Games like these will only serve to expand knowledge of past hits and inspire new thinkers and there aint nothing wrong with that.
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