Guitar Hero Live Preview
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Guitar Hero Live Box Art
System: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Dev: FreeStyle Games
Pub: Activision
Release: October 20, 2015
Players: 1 (2+ Online)
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p
Rocking Out Once Again
by Angelo M. D'Argenio

This E3, we got a chance to stop by the Actvision booth and try out Guitar Hero Live. They are looking to make a break from the old format of rhythm games, introducing a brand new guitar and new gameplay to go along with it. It is a profoundly new experience, enough to shock anyone who is used to playing early Guitar Hero or Rock Band titles. However, it’s a fun new experience that shouldn’t be underestimated, especially since the rhythm game genre has been taking a break for a couple years.

The first thing that they changed was the guitar itself. The guitar is bigger now, not quite as big as a normal guitar but certainly bigger than older Guitar Hero peripherals. Instead of five distinct fret buttons, there are now six buttons, arranged in two rows of three. As notes scroll down the Guitar Hero highway, you will be asked to either hold down some combination of the top buttons, the bottom buttons, both buttons at once, or possibly strum without any frets held down at all. On easy modes, most songs consist of nothing but empty strumming, but on harder songs, your fingers will be contorted in interesting chord layouts which aren’t exactly what you would expect from actually playing the guitar, but are close.

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Instead of looking at a polygonal character in a fantasy band, this time around Guitar Hero puts you in first person mode. Behind the note highway is a video of a concert being played from the perspective of the guitarist. If you play well, you’ll see the crowd go wild, singing along with your vocalist, screaming that they love you, and doing all the great things that rock concert audiences do. If you do poorly, they will start to boo you and throw trash at you. If you do particularly poorly, they can even get rowdy and bust past security, breaking up the concert and climbing on stage. Regardless of how absurdly chaotic things can get, there is no failure state in Guitar Hero Live. Even when you screw up beyond belief, you can always play the game straight until the end.

Guitar Hero Live Screenshot

The theme of Guitar Hero Live is festivals. The entire game takes place at two venues, one in the UK and one in the US. You will be playing with numerous different bands featuring numerous different singers and band mates, depending on what sort of song you are playing. Each song has two video tracks for it, one for when you are playing well, and one for when you are playing poorly, though these videos change depending on what song you are playing as well.

Guitar Hero Live Screenshot

Guitar Hero Live is the single player portion of the new Guitar Hero suite being released by Activision, unlike Guitar Hero TV, which is basically a separate game and which we will have a totally separate preview for, Guitar Hero Live songs are hard copy songs (as opposed to streamed songs) saved to your console’s hard drive. You can always play these songs whenever you want, but it is primarily a single person mode, without room for multiplayer or extra bands. Songs will focus on guitarist sections only, without any bass note highways. There also won’t be support for vocals, drums, or any other instrument of any kind. Activision said that they are trying to get “back to basics” for Guitar Hero Live and it shows.

I have to admit, when I first saw footage of Guitar Hero Live, I thought that it looked kind of gimmicky. The first person footage kind of looked like it would be lame, or barely even paid attention to. But when you step up to play the game, things really do change. The sound that comes out of the game isn’t simply the sound of the music you are playing. You can hear the crowd cheer and the pyrotechnics go off. You can even hear the crowd sing along and call your name. It’s a real rush and it does feel like you are on stage playing in a band in a way no other rhythm game really captured up until this point. These small details are really what make Guitar Hero Live stand out from all other rhythm games that came before.

Guitar Hero Live Screenshot

But outside of this footage and the new guitar, you are basically looking at the same game you have come to know and love. Play well, get star power, build your score, and move on to harder songs. It’s familiar, but that’s a good thing. Activision has kept all their innovation for Guitar Hero TV, which is a totally different beast.

By
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Lead Contributor
Date: June 26, 2015

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