Traditionally, I don’t get into peripheral type games. You know the ones, dance your life away with the dance pad, or here is a huge $200 controller – go play a tank game. It’s a gimmick, to get us to buy something extra that we will never use for another game (unless a sequel is produced). More often than not, these peripherals break, and then you can’t even play the game anymore. Well I am happy to report, I have found a set that is the best hands down. Better than Karaoke Revolution, better than Dance Dance R…volution, it is Guitar Hero. For $75, you get a great controller & a great game.
This game is all about sound, so why am I talking about graphics? (It’s a section heading in your review, oh right). When you aren’t actually figuring out which chord to hit next, the graphics are pleasing. It is kinda cartoony, the various characters you can play as; but then again isn’t music a bunch of larger than life people who are sometimes jokes themselves? But outside of that, you can see the notes clearly (even if your fingers can’t keep up) and it is a highly effective presentation for what you have to do.
I have a confession to make, I love guitar rock, hair metal, 70’s rock, cheezey metal, or any incantation there of. To appease that flavor, I have roughly 300 cds and my wife has about nearly that amount as well, most of which are dedicated to this subject. So when I heard that there was a game that had these tunes to strum a guitar to?…Oh I’m so in. Unfortunately, I was a bit worried when I read further that these are the made famous by so & so artist versions. I am happy to report that the folks at Harmonix who produced these versions did it so close to the original that on most, I can not tell the difference. It is amazing, and it helps your guitar playing so much when you know you can really follow along with the song. The Dolby Surround Sound doesn’t hurt either and you can really rock out wherever you choose to play this. Most importantly, anything beyond easy model and you really feel like you are playing the chords where the sound replicates well (easy mode is not half bad either). I’ve been asked several times already to turn it down by my better half, she enjoys the music but is usually trying to do school stuff. There is only one bad sound, and that is when you screw up, a twang or dong replaces the correct note. I can live with that.
Let me start with describing this awesome guitar. If you have not seen it up close, you are denying yourself a privilege even without playing it. It looks and plays like a real guitar, 5 color coded fret buttons for where you place your fingers, a strum bar where you place your hand to play the strings, and even get this a whammy bar that works. The start and select buttons are conveniently masked as volume buttons. In addition, it comes with a strap so you can go for full metal stand up mode (sitting down on a good chair works well too).
The buttons are pretty large and that plays well into the game. Like DDR, you have to hit your movements, in this case your chord placement and the strum bar when the dot or dots hit the playing line. As you hit notes, you get points, hit notes in a row, you start getting multipliers, up to 4x (8x with star power). Hit special notes in a row and your star power bar fills up. When you fill it up enough, you then turn your guitar straight up (classic metal pose) and you get even more points for a limited time. This is actually very easy to learn, even for me. I have no guitar training, you read it right. Played cello for two years, and sang karaoke for years. That is all I got going for me musically (and if you ever heard me play cello or sing anything that didn’t involve something metal, you can understand). So the fact that I was able to pick this up easily and get going after just a few songs says something. Anybody can get into this (that enjoys the music). In fact, I’ve already resolved to be able to play a real guitar sometime in the near future.
The difficultly level starts out innocently enough at easy, allowing you to quickly play through the first 25 songs and get used to the feel of the controller and your own abilities. Anybody should be able to get through these. However, medium and beyond is a whole different ball game. Medium, you start feeling the pangs of being an accomplished guitar player. Your fingers must work and work well as they keep changing chords just like a real guitar player. Songs like No One Knows by Queens of the Stone Age or Crossroads by Cream will have your fingers feel like they are doing laps and drive you crazy. But in a good, crazy, addictive, oh why am I sitting here writing about it way.
This game has a tremendous amount of replay value, 30 songs (and 17 bonus ones) will keep you playing for hours especially with the difficulty levels. This changes each song into 4 separate challenges. I honestly see myself playing this game forever(unless my dream of playing guitar comes to a head). Furthermore, every time your performance measures up in medium mode or higher you get cash. Cash to spend on you guessed it, unlockable content. New guitars, skins, songs, and even guitarists (The Grim Reaper, oh yes). Also, there is a multiplayer mode where with two guitars you can jam together. This is a party game if there ever was one. Now I just need to find some friends.
If you ever perused my catalog of games, outside of wrestling games I hardly ever buy a game new, at full price. I’m cheap, I admit it. However, I would have paid $100 for this game set in a heartbeat. The music, the gameplay, the songs, this is the best peripheral game ever. Heck, it is one of the top ten games I have played, period. This game is so cool, my wife even played it. Keep in mind that she has not played a game outside of Tetris, Frogger, Centipede and the like. So for her to pick up this and actually like it; is not only cool but something to pay attention to. The controller is so authentic, if you don’t already play guitar, you will want to. The only reason I would not recommend this is if you listen to rap or bubble gum pop. But for anyone who has ever air guitared or banged their head, you owe it to yourself. You really do.
- Ace of Spades – Motorhead
- Bark at the Moon – Ozzy Osbourne
- Cochise – Audioslave
- Cowboys From Hell – Pantera
- Crossroads – Cream
- Fat Lip – Sum 41
- Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
- Godzilla – Blue Oyster Cult
- Heart Full of Black – Burning Brides
- Hey You – The Exies
- Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers
- I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett
- I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones
- Infected – Bad Religion
- Iron Man – Black Sabbath
- Killer Queen – Queen
- More Than A Feeling – Boston
- No One Knows – Queens of the Stone Age
- Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top
- Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple
- Spanish Castle Magic – Jimi Hendrix
- Stellar – Incubus
- Symphony of Destruction – Megadeth
- Take It Off – The Donnas
- Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
- Texas Flood – Stevie Ray Vaughn
- Thunderkiss 65 – White Zombie
- Unsung – Helmet
- You Got Another Thing Comin – Judas Priest
- Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie