Guitar Hero is a franchise of another era. Not too long ago, youths would clammer around a living room, turn on their console and grab their plastic peripherals to play to some old-school rock. Unfortunately as with many cash-cow franchises, the publishers Activision milked the franchise extensively until the series lost all meaning. Attempts to redefine itself with new audiences with games such as Band Hero and DJ Hero were nothing compared to the initial success of Guitar Hero. After a lengthy absence, rhythm games Guitar Hero and Rockband are making a grand return. Rockband’s approach is more simple with the game being backwards compatible and not planning on expanding with future titles, but rather patching and updating the game with new content. Guitar Hero on the other hand is under the hands of Activision, so that won’t be the case. Nevertheless, the revitalised gameplay of Guitar Hero Live and TV seems like an actual bold addition and the POV style changes everything.
You’re the player, you’re the guitarist. The first-person perspective allows you to see your bandmates reactions and the crowds enjoyment of what you play. This adds a whole new layer to the realism of the experience. The series has always been about enjoyment, yet previous adverts of older Guitar Hero’s have often highlighted the blurring of reality and gaming, now it’s become a reality. The POV experience alone with typical photorealistic graphics would’ve been enough to achieve the blurring, yet the game goes one step further by returning full-motion video games into the mix. This isn’t your usual rehashed Guitar Hero, but rather it’s the game brought from the ground, up.
Yes, full-motion video games are essentially a thing of the past. Nowadays this lost style of gaming had become a parody as the results were often cheesy and corny. However, it absurdly seems like the only logical step for Guitar Hero to become relevant again. Seeing live recorded concerts and people shouting out “you suck!” while you mess up may be the most motivating thing to get it right. Build your band and be the best guitarist you can be, then feel the enjoyment as you have waves of crowds jumping at your every beat. What this new Guitar Hero promises to do is to not cut a performance mid-way when performing poorly. Now you have to see the disappointed faces of the crowd first-hand, from the start to the end of the song. Perhaps the popular show-biz quote “the show must go on” applies here more than ever. It’s these realistic elements that makes the game appear promising. By being a POV game, you’re responsible for how successful your band is and it becomes your responsibility and duty to perform well.
The pre-recorded footage with the typical guitar hero overlay is what extends this games potential even more. Despite being required to purchase yet another plastic guitar (the older versions are now not compatible), this new guitar will be accessible anywhere. That’s right anywhere. The game is promised to be cross-compatible with various consoles, handhelds, smartphones and tablets. Any modern gaming machine should essentially be able to run the game, and the best thing about it is that the recorded footage isn’t as processor hungry. Imagine having essentially the same experience on your small tablet and your console. This is what the pre-recorded footage offers.
The gameplay is still the same, hit the notes at the right time. Yet the iconic five colourful fret buttons to trigger these notes are redesigned (including an additional sixth button) with a modern look to attract new and younger crowds. Experiencing the different visual style alongside with the new guitar will not be your standard Guitar Hero play-through. And there’s more in stock than the limited library which the pre-recorded videos will offer you.
Other than Guitar Hero Live, this new Guitar Hero will offer Guitar Hero TV to stream selected music videos and play with the Guitar Hero overlay. The combination of this, live and local multiplayer and the brand new guitar will be sure to grab some additional gameplay time after completing all of the pre-installed data too.
Unfortunately it’s safe to assume, whilst this new style does majorly change things, perhaps “changes everything” was an exaggeration. After all, additional DLC offering new music videos for Guitar Hero TV or new pre-recorded concerts and soundtracks for Guitar Hero Live is inevitable. There’s no escaping the video-game market demanding additional purchases after buying the base game, and there’s no way (after looking at Activision’s track record) this new Guitar Hero will be any different.
More information about the game will be revealed at E3. As for now we must eagerly wait. The game is planned to be released this Fall.