After being out of the limelight for a few years it is time to take center stage again and rock out. Guitar Hero has made its triumphant return with Guitar Hero Live where you get the chance to play at a couple of music festivals as well as participate in GHTV, Guitar Hero’s MTV equivalent (MTV like it was back in the day, not like it is today) where music videos play in the background and you rock out on the guitar.
With the re-introduction of Guitar Hero comes a new guitar. It has been redesigned so instead of one row of colorful buttons you have two rows of three, one with white highlight and the other with black. This introduces new gameplay mechanics and you are going to have to break old habits. It has a decent learning curve and I kept screwing up quite a bit before I wrapped my head around how to properly use the new guitar. It is definitely going to make it really hard to use it on other rhythm games as well.
Guitar Hero has two modes to choose from. There is the “Live” mode where you have two music festivals to play at. There is “Rock the Block” which is in the United States and then there is “Soundial” which takes place in the UK. Each festival has a number of different sets for you to play at different locations. In the U.S. you’ll have the Yearbook Ghosts playing at “The Ledges” and Broken Tide playing at “Cactus Joe’s.” In the UK there is Portland Cloud playing at the “Barn Stage,” Blackout Conspiracy playing at the “Fire Pit” and more. Each set has three to five songs for you to play on stage as you try to entertain a live audience. The live audience will give you real time feedback on your skills, or lack thereof. If you are putting on an amazing show the house will be rocking, everyone will be cheering and singing along to the song and it will just be a good time overall. If you are playing miserably then the crowd can and probably will boo you or just be quiet and look at you, wondering what is wrong with you. There really isn’t a way to fail per se, but you definitely want the crowd on your side. Once you are done with your set you will get ranked on how you did and there are even achievements attached to performing well here.
The other mode is a new addition to the franchise and is Guitar Hero TV. This is going to be the mode the vast majority of people will use and really is the “main” mode for the game and is an online only mode. GHTV has two channels to choose from (with hopefully more later) and it works basically just like MTV did back in the day. You have your channels and you’ll need to consult the guide to see what is on to play. As I am writing this review, channel one currently features “Most Played Riffs” while in a few minutes there will be a new “episode” that will feature “exceptional rock” with “90s blockbusters” being on there afterwards. Channel two is featuring “Hot Chart Toppers” followed by “Pop Days”, “Rock Deluxe” and more. As you play through this content and go through songs you will level up. This will earn you free play tokens, different highways, the ability to check out GHTV Premium shows, the ability to upgrade your guitar and more. The more you play the more that will open up to you.
In addition to the two channels being available, there is also music you can play on demand. The way that you do this is by having those free play credits that I just mentioned. Each song in the on demand category costs one credit to play. You will earn these credits by playing GH TV and leveling up or you can also buy some with the in-game currency that you accrue as you are playing. This would be a great way to show your friends that one song that you really like or just to try some new bands you haven’t heard of before if you didn’t have to worry about essentially sticking a quarter in the jukebox to get the next song to play. This kind of prevents you from being able to “own” any of the music and playing it whenever you want. GH TV can be pretty generous with the tokens it gives you but it would be nice just to have all of the music available to play whenever you want, even if I have to play through the whole game first to unlock that option. If you are holding a party with a bunch of friends you can also choose to buy a “Party Pass” for $5.99 which will give you access to the entire on demand song catalog for a period of 24 hours. That means you don’t have to worry about how many free credits you have earned…you and your friends can just focus on playing the game. I found this to be a great option when I have a bunch of friends over and I’m sure this will be used a lot, especially during the upcoming holiday season.
Guitar Hero Live wants you to rock out and do it in your own style. As you earn in-game currency you will be given the opportunity to buy different highways such as the “Kraken Riffs” “Broken Tide A,” “Angry Fish” and more. There are also “Hero Power Packs” for you to buy that will do different things once you activate “Hero Power” during a song. This can range from hitting all of the notes automatically in a small section, having a safety net, having temporary invincibility and more. As you level up you can make the experience how you want it. There are also guitar upgrades that you can unlock as well but you will have to work a little to get there as you have to reach level 9 in GHTV to use this particular feature.
There are also premium shows on offer here that you can play, as long as you meet the entry conditions. Once you unlock the ability to play premium shows you will have a few different options to go to. When I was doing it I went to the “Guitar Hero Classics”. This was going to allow me to play music before it was put on the normal channels as well as give me an opportunity to win things I couldn’t elsewhere in the game. In order to play these classics though I needed to prove myself. They gave me three songs to play and I needed to get three stars on them on any difficulty. Once I successfully accomplish that then I can play the premium show. The problem here is that to play these songs to qualify for the premium shows I need to use one of the credits I have earned or use the in-game currency to buy a play of the song. This leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as I’m not choosing to play these songs, I have to in order to get access to the premium shows. Once you have played a premium show you can play it again if you really enjoyed it but you will have to unlock it just like you did the first time, which means spending three more of your play credits. I don’t understand why the development team did this as it is a bit of a slap in the face. I wasn’t happy with it but I accepted it the first time. Charging you credits every time though? Get out of here with that.
Guitar Hero is back and better than ever, for the most part. I enjoyed playing the different sets during the “Live” portion and GHTV is a tremendous idea bringing me back to a time when we used to have music networks like that. It can be a lot of fun to play and special playlists like the Halloween one they have this weekend should add some nice variety. The on demand stuff works really well but I’m not really a fan of how it is handled. The play tokens are handed out fairly generously in GHTV which makes this an annoyance instead of something more serious. If they can tweak this aspect of the game somehow than it would make a really good game even better. With that said I do appreciate the Party Pass option for those times when you have friends over. It essentially makes the game how it should always be, being able to play songs whenever you want without having to worry about anything else. With all of that said Guitar Hero Live is a lot of fun to play. If you are a fan of these games I definitely recommend picking it up. It is still a lot of fun rocking out on the guitar, even if once in a while you need to spend a play credit to do it.
Originally posted on Gaming Target