Guitar Hero Live: Game Review

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2015 marks the return of the rhythm game genre. Earlier we have Rock Band 4 which came out to… an ok applause. Guitar Hero Live was set 2 weeks after. Will this real life rendition of being on stage performing in front of real people bring out the rocker in you? Most probably not, but be prepared for other things instead.

The Plastic Axe…Reborn

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GH Live begins with the reinvention of the plastic guitar controller. Gone are the 5 colored button setup and replaced with a new 3 x 2 button placement on the guitar neck. For veterans of both Rock Band and Guitar Hero, this requires some brain retuning as you need to figure out where you fingers will be placed when you see black or white notes (and combos of both buttons on the same fret as well). I find this a nice breath of fresh air that requires me to relearn playing the game and simulates a nice way of thinking that I’m using chords with the game.

The fret neck has a good way to distinct both the black and white notes. The Black ones have a rougher texture whereas the white ones are smoother. Your middle finger can rest easy on the middle of the three buttons as it is easily indicated with a small but significant dot. The strum is still clicky, but less noisier than previous guitar renditions.

Upon playing the introduction section, the Regular mode feels easy to access for all. However, I find this too slow for my liking (I’m a Guitar Hero vet anyways). That being said, jumping into Advanced feels more like a leap of faith rather than a small hop. The speed is amped up while it gets harder to get used to button combos. It may feel easy to just use 3 fingers this time instead of four, but the combos are not easy to master. I will admit that I need more practice to get used to my fingers placed at the right buttons on the fret. There may be a small design issue with my own palm that makes me feel that I am pressing both colors of the fret on the left most fret itself when I try to attempt pressing the black one only. Again, not a major issue, just requires practice.

Rocking on Live Set

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The game splits into two sections: The GH Live itself and GH TV. GH Live is a journey where you rock out in venues around the world in front of an actual live audience. If you do well with the song, the crowd loves you. If you suck, then the crowd boos you and starts showing placards saying “YOU SUCK”. The idea is to provide a real representation of how it feels to perform live in front of people. However, I find this to be a novel idea that does not actually work in execution. There’s no failure factor that hits me when it comes to doing badly in GH Live. I can even enjoy a cheeseburger while letting people boo at me and the band itself wondering what’s going on with me. Well, I’m enjoying a cheeseburger. That’s what’s up.

Another downside to this mode is that while you get to perform modern day hits, it’s only limited to 42 songs. The Quickplay mode that consists of the 42 songs can only be unlocked after you have done the GH Live component. This part of the game can be finished fast. You probably should too. Because GH TV will keep you playing forever, and ever, and ever.

Rhythm Games like never before

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GHTV is what I consider to be the way to go for rhythm games. DLCs can kiss my butt goodbye. The idea of GHTV is to provide a 24 hour song streaming channels (Online Only though, but does not require Playstation Plus or Xbox Live) a set of songs based on 30 minute to an hour blocks all day every day. You can select blocks such as 90s Hits and play the songs within that channel. Don’t like the 90s? Change to another channel or wait for the next slot that has something for Metal for your taste. The downside is that you can’t actually choose what you want to play in the block. The song given to you is on random. But random is good. Not only have I been able to discover songs that I have never heard before, there are also moments where I would go “Hey I heard that song before! I wonder how it plays…”. This kind of feeling is not only great, but downright fun.

It feels like channel surfing and going through what songs may be played during that show time. Heck, the game feels like you’re actually watching a run of music videos that plays automatically and you can even choose to play the song there and then, or not and just enjoy the music video. There are even moments for commercials (which I believe may be the case for Activision later to promote their games) making it feel like an authentic TV channel that is being played right infront of you.

Even so, you can still choose to play a song on demand by spending “Plays”. These Plays are earned by spending GH Coins that are earned by playing the game.  The Plays can also be purchased using real money. I can say that as the addictiveness of GHTV sets in, you hardly have to spend real money to buy Plays. In fact, you might as well save those Plays for more premium shows or songs like live concerts by your favorite bands. Want to experience the Avenged Sevenfold’s Download Tour and play songs from their Nightmare album? Just earn your Plays.  Plays are even earned by levelling up. GHTV is also set to bring in more and more songs for you to play as they recommend you new songs consistently.

The Premium Shows are also fun as you can choose to unlock those songs by meeting certain criterias. Or pay real money if you don’t want to. Each song has specific challenges that you can meet to unlock more cool stuff like a new Note Highway. And Premium Shows are akin to getting early access to the stuff that really adds more value to the whole GHTV experience.

In playing GHTV, you are also given sets of Hero Powers that you can use for the songs that you play. The first unlockable Hero Power is a Bomb that destroys the notes coming in your highway. I find this rubbish and you’re better off with other powers like the ultimate Score Chaser power. Unlocked Hero Power Packs are however an issue. The Bomb is unlimited, but the other Hero Powers have a limit to them. You will have to spend Hero Coins to get more of those. But this won’t feel like much of an issue if you don’t spend most of it on Plays. It’s particularly more annoying if you want to chase a high score. Fun factor wise, it’s not even important.

Rhythm Games Live Again

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I can definitely do without the GH Live component. Or it could be further improved. But as for GHTV, this is what Rhythm Games need to do for the future.  The fact that GHTV will consistently evolve to include new music is going to be very fun to spend time to discover. Take caution on the addiction and pace yourself though. That regular new content is going to suck a lot of your time.

For Against (Very minor ones)
GHTV is super addictive GH Live is completely forgettable
New guitar is a good kind of new fun On Demand Songs requires Plays to be earned
New and regular content update Hero powers are no longer unlimited
New life in Rhythm Game genre
Live concert footage!

Final Score: 9/10

Wajib Main-01

Guitar Hero Live was reviewed using a retail PS4 version of the game. Get yours now at http://kyosgamemart.com/collections/frontpage/products/ghlive! Review is also available on the latest PC.Com Malaysia Magazine thanks to PC.Com Malaysia.

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