Guitar Hero Live: Still Not Real, but Not Too Fake


Since the early 2000s, video game companies such as Activison and Harmonix capitalized on the average person’s inability to learn guitar and play music in general. Going off of the idea that “anyone can play guitar”, they created an iconic game genre: rhythm games. With its only connection to music being background noise provided by famous and cheesy songs, players were soon able to memorize all six of the color coordinated buttons on their plastic Les Paul as they “shredded” their favorite songs hitting all of the “notes” on the big solo. While this was fun because average gamers could feel like rock stars, the material began to wear thin after companies began to produce the same game yearly, just with new setlists. In addition to repetitive songs, pop culture soon began to beat up on the game as well, and even spurred a South Park parody. To say the least, the rhythm game genre died and with it went a whole gaming culture, until Guitar Hero revolutionized the series with a fresh new take on playing music. [embedyt][/embedyt]


Activision changed the Guitar Hero template by ditching their stereotypical view of what music really is. In their earlier games, the idea of playing rock music in a band was simply a caricature. Game avatars would be sporting all leather outfits, face paint like Kiss, and mohawks that probably needed cans on cans of hairspray to keep up. To say the least, musicians were presented as being cartoonish as they pranced around stage with fire flying from their fingertips as their mouths fell out of sync with the song. In an effort to give their audience a more realistic experience game developers opted to ditch computer-generated characters altogether. Instead of this, players see live footage from concerts as they play their songs. During this footage, based on how many notes you hit, their crowd and band reactions change. If you are doing well audience members will raise motivational and humorous signs; if you are doing poorly, band members will shake their heads and audience members will boo you. While all of this footage is staged, it gives a more authentic feel to players. Instead of looking at fake music experiences, at least in Guitar Hero Live gamers can look out on a sea of real fans reactions along with reactions from band members. To say the least this game nails the feel and atmosphere of a real concert, be it real or fake.

When you ask someone if they know what Guitar Hero is, everyone instantly thinks of the classic yet cheesy guitar: cheap plastic featuring six color coordinates buttons along the neck that occasionally squeak and stick due to excessive use. The guitar is the cornerstone of what made Guitar Hero such an iconic game; while that’s great, it’s also what made a lot of people furious. In reality, the guitar is one of the most difficult instruments to master. With six strings that provide an infinite number of chords, and the challenge of forming chords with one hand while strumming with another, many people are deterred from attempting to learn the instrument. This cheap simplification of the guitar caused many to look down upon the game due to the fact that anyone could play Metallica and Muse by alternating between buttons instead of actually taking the time to form chords and learn how to play the song. Well, just like how developers removed the fake stereotypical “rockstars”, a new guitar was created too. Abandoning the old layout with six buttons moving vertically down the neck of the guitar, the new style attempts to simply mimic the real neck of a guitar by having two rows of three buttons. While this new style may seem weird and foreign, it actually closely resembles guitar playing.

Finally, another new aspect of Guitar Hero Live is GHTV. In this new game mode players can play songs of their choice with the background being the music video. While you can’t pick any song ever written, the game provides players with a library of 200 songs to choose from, plus new content being added too. This new innovation of music video based video games is amazing, but it does have on huge drawback. Just like apps that offer in-app purchases, GHTV functions the same way. With only a limited number of “plays”, gamers can only play these selected songs a few times before they run out of “plays”. Of course you can earn more by leveling up, and also you can take the easy way out my purchasing “plays” in bulk. In the end, while GHTV is a new gameplay mode never seen before, it does have its hiccups through forcing players to purchase the ability to play selected songs.

Guitar Hero Live has transformed the culture of music gaming, and set the bar for rhythm games to come in the future. For the past few years, it was believed that rhythm games died out due to customers growing tired of monotonous gameplay and stereotypical musical situations, but this game has injected new life into a gaming genre that was believed to be dead. By introducing a new guitar controller layout, GHTV, and now live backdrops during gameplay, Activison has created a masterpiece that will hopefully pave the way for new rhythm games in the f