Guitar Hero Live: My Favorite FPS (First Person Shredder)
Guitar Hero is back, with a vengeance.
By Allie W, Editor/Collaborator – May 13, 2016
As much fun as I had with Guitar Hero back in the days of the PS2, I was pretty much over it by the time Guitar Hero 3 came around. It’s been a long time since Guitar Hero has given me a title that I absolutely loved. Until now.
Guitar Hero Live made a lot of changes in the typical Guitar Hero formula. They ditched the weird, creepy avatars and brought in a “live” stage. They are branching out from their typical classic rock songs and punk rock jams. They even revamped the guitar controller and made it more challenging and realistic, as guitar controllers go. And let me tell you, I am thoroughly impressed with every single change they made. It seemed risky when I was watching previews and trailers, but the risk has absolutely paid off.
I want to start with the namesake of the game: the “live” band and audience. I think this is so much fun. The Guitar Hero franchise has always marketed themselves as a game that turns you into a rockstar, but I’ve never ever felt quite like a rockstar in my living room staring at a weird digital tall guy screaming to a room full of mohawk’d clones. The illusion is so much better in Live, with actual first-person footage of a real audience and band members that all react to your performance. The energy is palpable when you do well; the other band members are smiling and moving around, the audience is clapping and singing along. But if you miss a few too many notes, the screen sort of blurs out a bit and you’re left with angry band members mouthing “what the hell?!” and a booing audience holding up signs that say “you suck!”. Although I feel like I really let down my fellow band members and my fans when I can’t play the song well, I can’t help but laugh at those moments. Who takes the time to go to a concert that you’re anticipating will need a “you suck” sign? Which brings me to the absolute cheesiness of the whole ‘live band’ thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the first-person aspect of the game, but the acting is incredibly cheesy! It’s not too bad when you’re playing guitar the way you should. But I can’t imagine a world where if you mess up a few notes, band members start moping and glaring at you, and then looking sadly down at their keyboard as if the whole day was a complete waste. This is exactly what happens in GH Live. It’s kind of hilarious, and adds a really fun element to the game.
The tracklist is very diverse, especially compared to earlier Guitar Hero games. You’ll still find some really good classic rock, but Live also brings in some unexpected genres, like rap and dubstep. They gave us everything from The Police, to Neon Trees, to Eminem, to Skrillex. The list is all over the place, which should cater to a very big audience. They’ve grouped the songs in a really fun way too. In “Live” mode, you have options to play as different bands, and at different music festivals. Each band plays its own genre of music, and has a matching audience to go with it. The Jephson Hangout serves up songs from bands like The 1975 and Imagine Dragons. Their audience is your typical teenage and young adult t-shirt wearing, moshing crowd. There are a handful of different bands and audiences, but my favorite crowds accompany The Yearbook Ghosts and Our Pasts Collide. They play songs from Fall Out Boy and Blink-182. Appropriately, the audiences at their shows are made up of stereotypical Myspace scene kids, with poofy hair and eyeliner to match their emo gloom.
The “Live” mode isn’t your only option on this game. There are hundreds of other songs available through the “GHTV” mode, which features ever-changing channels of songs, ready for you to jump into. They have collections like “Today’s Hits”, “Heavy Metal”, and “Indie Hour”. They don’t have live crowds, but rather a music video behind the note highway. It’s almost like watching MTV back when they showed music videos – but this time you get to play along!
There are obviously a lot of things I love about this game, but one of the most jarring changes is the guitar controller’s new buttons. There are now 6 buttons instead of the 5 we have been accustomed to, and they’re split into two rows of three buttons. It might not seem like it would be so tough to make the switch from 5 buttons to 6, but oh boy does it ramp up the gameplay difficulty! It’s definitely a welcome change, and it is a good move towards putting the “guitar” in “Guitar Hero”. As a long-time guitar player IRL, having multiple rows for the buttons is a nice change of pace from the single row of 5 buttons. The new arrangement of buttons, along with the first-person view live crowds, makes for a more realistic and immersive experience into the world of Guitar Hero.
Guitar Hero Live is available on Xbox One, PS4, WiiU, Xbox 360, PS3, and the Apple App Store (Playable on iPad and Apple TV).