ou would think that playing musical instruments
is an inert talent that someone can posess. Hell, the last instrument I played was my 8th grade big band trumpet
, which I still have and break out from time to time for a quick bugle call. Of course, this is a far cry from most's people instruments of choice, the guitar
, either acoustic or electric. Until now.
Guitar Hero comes from a long list of rhythm games, that span from greats like Amplitude and duds like DDR country Mix, but regardless of the creed, Guitar Hero is easily in a class of it's own, not because of innovative gameplay, but innovative control scheme.
Guitar Hero rocks. Period! Well ok, a little more in depth. The reason the gameplay is so good is due to the gibson controller, which replicates the guitar with 5 colored fret buttons a whammy stick and a strummer. Playing is easy, hit the strummer and the appropriate fret button when you need to. Sounds easy? Hardly! What makes the game a true challenge is the difficulty. We get easy, which is nothing, medium, which can be trouble for some beginners, hard, which is tough but manageable, and expert...only fools apply, really.
completing any song on Expert with a 5 star rating is a feat, but completing some of the end songs with 5 stars is even better. The game features 30 licensed tracks, plus 15 bonus songs from indie bands and the Black Label Society. Some of the tracks are spot on awesome and staples of the Rock and Roll Genre, like I love Rock and Roll, Crossroads and Godzilla. Others are kind of out there, like Killer Queen and Stellar. It is a great mix of songs, however, and it works very well with numerous groups like Pantera, Cream, Ozzy Osbourne, Sum41, Joan Jett and Jimi Hendrix represented. This soundtrack easily makes the game worth a look, even if most of the songs are not the first choices you would pick from the bands and names represented. True, some big names were left out, like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC (most of which was rectified in the squeal) but regardless, the soundtrack has a great mix of easy and hard for most players, and offers enough challenge to keep going back for more.
My only complaint is multiplayer, as a co-op mode would of been good too. Also a practice mode would be real nice, especially for the final few songs in the game (again, also rectified in the sequel.) And sadly, after you complete the setlist, unlock the unlockables, and learn every note of the song, the game loses some luster to it's initial charm. But this is all ok, because the game is still fun, a key factor to it's success if you ask me. Any game can be fun, but it takes something special to stay fun, even after you complete it.
Realistically speaking, the games graphics are kind of simple. The player models, which are caricatures and homages to rock greats like Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townsend, Joan Jett and Axl Rose, are cool looking, and have great animation and antics on stage. That being said, the crowds and your bandmates don't have as much fluid movement as you do, but if your paying attention to the graphics...well let's just say you might be missing the fret buttons a lot then. Lastly, the scrolling fret meter that we see (which is very similar to amplitude) is done well, and has some slight character depending on the player you pick, but is again simple.
The sound of the game shines, though. The crowd cheers are kind of weak, but the songs themselves are loud and powerful, replicating some of the most famous riffs ever constructed. The lyrics, however, are all covers, and while most are great (Sharp Dressed Man and Take Me Out come to mind), some of them are weak and totally out there (Killer Queen sounds like an acid trip for some reason, very surreal but still pretty bad.) Also, Hendrix's song in the game, "Spanish Castle Magic", has no lyrics whatsoever. The covers, however, are more than adequate to keep gamers entranced in the gameplay for a long time.
With the great tracks, nice collection of unlockables, and a decent (but flawed) multi-player mode, Guitar Hero is a very strong game indeed, giving you high riffs of playability and tons of fun by yourself and with friends. Here is to Red Octane for the newest kind of the rhythm genre. I hope that the game just grows and get's better as we wind on down the road.
Final Score- A-