Published on October 28th, 2015 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: Guitar Hero Live
Summary: The Guitar Hero franchise is back! This new iteration strays from the cartoon feel of old and thrusts you into a first person rock god extravaganza, but is Guitar Hero Live king of the music genre?
Concept: The concept of Guitar Hero has always been about bringing out the inner rockstar within and helping people who don’t have a lick of skill on a real guitar to get a taste of what it’s like to be a complete shredder. Live Mode is like your career mode, where you take on the role of the guitarist in a bunch of different bands, each with their own style and set list to play through. Completing set lists unlocks each song for Quick Play mode. This simple structure is similar to the previous games and it’s not a game changer, but the live nature of the game provides you with a very different experience.
Graphics: Guitar hero of old used 3D character models to represent the band on stage. This time, however, that has been scrapped for a live modern feel, pitting the player in a first-person perspective of a guitarist on stage, complete with live band mates and an impressively large and lively crowd. To my surprise, this worked amazingly well, with bright and vivid visuals that are a nice refresher from the old format. The familiar scrolling fretboard remains as it was in previous iterations, both crisp and clear, set in the centre of the screen. Overall the presentation is nice and simple to get started, but can get a bit finicky wading through the “Guitar Hero TV” section, which categorizes a wealth of tracks to play using the actual film clips of the artists.
Simulate the lifestyle of a real Emo.
Controller: The new guitar peripheral looks amazing; a sleek black finish with all the buttons and knobs you’d see on a typical guitar. The five coloured buttons from previous generations are gone and in its place are six buttons: three black on top and three white below to simulate having two strings rather than a single row of buttons. Not only does it look cool but it’s comfortable to boot. Whether resting on your lap for casual sessions or slung by your hip for stand-up jams, this controller just feels right. The plastic build is as strong as it’s always been, but a little more lightweight, which is perfect.
Gameplay: The new six-button controller mechanics changes how you play the game and it threw me off at first. Once I practised and wrapped my head around it, I fell in love with these new mechanics, which feel one step closer to playing a real guitar. Unlike the previous games, the live audience was filmed using real people who go wild, cheer and jump up and down as you hit every note. Should you start to miss notes, they’ll turn on you, booing and generally looking disgusted and gesturing that you suck. These little touches motivate you to bring your ‘A’ game and really give a more intimate setting then previously.
When you stink (or start playing Justin Beiber songs) the crowd boos.
Multiplayer: Previous games in the series added songs to the library via very expensive DLC packs, but GHTV throws all that out the window with a new free-to-play model that rewards you for playing random songs from their two online channels. These channels feature playable songs based on a theme or genre, where performances are ranked against players around the globe with online leader boards. It also uses an in-game currency and experience points system where each level you earn unlocks ‘free play tokens’ that are used for jamming along to any song of your choosing. Of course, you can pay real money to unlock a pack of ‘plays’ and the wealth of songs to choose from (complete with their original music videos) is insane, with more continually being added. Playing online with a friend is a simple affair as you battle each other for the highest score. It’s all you really need to have a complete blast, and you can even hook up a usb mic for a third person to sing along.
Sound: Hearing that sweet guitar sound as you hit every note, or twang out of tune when you miss, causing the guitar to cut out has been a main staple for Guitar Hero games and I wish this was still the case. Unfortunately, the songs are bustling with so much background noise that the guitar seems to be just another instrument in the mix, sometimes being drowned out entirely in sections by the crowd. This problem may be alleviated if you sport a kick ass surround sound system, but for those of you using TV speakers, you’ve been warned. It’s pretty amazing when the crowd starts singing along with the song – but when this sacrifices hearing the guitar – it just seems like a misstep.
A safer environment, away from nasty booing people.
Awesomeness: Everything runs smoothly and the presentation is top notch, however, the screen fretboard suffers from some pretty consistent lag. This may only be on the Xbox One version that I played, but either way, it’s a bit strange seeing as the lag wasn’t present in previous games, even dating back to the PS2 versions that were severely underpowered in comparison. Hopefully, this is addressed in an update soon as possible, as it becomes quite frustrating. That being said, with all the different modes and a wealth of songs already available with a lot more to come, as well as a new badass controller and system in place, this game reeks of awesomeness and could be the Guitar Hero to rule them all.
Final Word: Guitar Hero took its tried-but-true gameplay and improved it significantly, from the presentation and live aspect, to the controller and the insanely great system featured on the online store. This is the new benchmark and it sets the bar high. The next step I see for the series could possibly be virtual reality, truly making you feel like part of a band, of course without having to leave your house and… you know, practice and stuff.
Score out of 5 bugs