Reviews// Guitar Hero Live

Posted 3 Nov 2015 12:15 by
Guitar Hero and Rock Band returning feels a bit like an old band getting back together. You?re pleased to hear the news but wonder if they can still deliver the magic after all these years.

It?s all about approach. They can?t just feed you the same stuff that you got tired of back in 2008. They need to take a new approach to remain interesting and not just feel like a cover band, covering their own songs.

Guitar Hero Live takes a brave but essential step in reinventing itself, not through the new systems or game modes - it knows what made it so popular in the first place - but through the introduction of the 6 button guitar.

The benefits of the new hardware seem so obvious that you?re surprised that this wasn?t the one we were holding ten years ago. Instead of the five buttons we?re used to, we now have six. two sets of three stacked on top of each other.

This allows beginners to focus on the lower three while more advanced players have far more to deal with than ever before. It may sacrifice the feeling of moving up and down the fingerboard, but it allows the introduction of more realistic feeling chords.

It takes some getting used to. I was fighting against years of muscle memory in order to stop my hand moving for a non existing button during my first few songs, but that let me experience something I haven?t in these games for a long time - improvement.

One of the reasons I fell out of love with the genre was because I?d hit a plateau with my skill. Instead of trying to improve my playing I was simply plodding through songs and moving on. I wasn?t having fun and soon enough my plastic instruments were up in the loft gathering dust.

Guitar Hero Live manages to recapture the magic of making you feel useless to start with, only to allow you to continually get better and finally making you feel like Jimi Hendrix, all while you stand in front of a screen and press buttons in your jogging bottoms and slippers.

As for game modes, there are two on offer. You have the Live mode that places you in front of an FMV crowd and Guitar Hero TV, which brands itself as the world?s first interactive music channel.

Live is a nightmare. Literally. I?ve woken up in bed in a cold sweat many times after I?d dreamt of standing in front of thousands of fans, playing a bum note only for them to turn on me before looking down and seeing I?ve got no trousers on. So experiencing this in real life in front of my telly sent me into a spiral of wondering if I was in Inception or not.

The live action crowd filmed specifically for the game sounds like a cheesy idea and, if I?m honest, it?s even more cheesier in the game. But I?d be lying if I said I didn?t enjoy its addition. Freestyle Games clearly has a sense of humour and has an understanding that the only way to make a cheesy idea work is to cram so much cheddar in that it becomes palatable.

Crowds turn in an instant, going from losing their minds to standing dead still. Your bandmates can switch from being your best friends to wanting to perform a public execution in a flash and if you want any proof that Guitar Hero Live is self-aware just read some of the signs that your fans are holding.

It manages to win you round and although it doesn?t do enough to make you feel like you?re actually playing music in front of a crowd, it does have little moments that make you smile when you see them going crazy after a difficult solo.

Live mode runs you through setlists grouped into music genres to match the live band and crowd, and although the themes work the sense of progression is sometimes off. Unlike the original games that got harder with every song as you moved from track to track, Guitar Hero Live has to drop the odd difficulty spike in out of nowhere to keep with the game?s concept. A minor issue, and one that might not even annoy people, but it?s something I miss.

E3 2015
E3 2015
The tracklist on offer is a little lacking for my taste but, well, that?s music for you. Each song is fun to play and that?s the most important thing. You can?t expect a game like this to come out and be specifically aimed at your taste, and even an old rocker like me can have fun ripping through Katie Perry?s ?Waking Up In Vegas?.
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