After some very quiet years, the music games with plastic controllers are finally back. With Guitar Hero Live, Activision completely redesigned their brand and introduced a whole new approach. Let’s see how the modified controller layout can add to the overall experience.
Playing on plastic has never felt so real
Let’s get to the most important thing first – the hardware. Guitar Hero Live has moved away from the well-known five coloured buttons with the horizontal layout and developed a digital instrument with a much more realistic design. Now, the guitars neck shows six buttons, three in each row, and got rid of any colours. Instead, black and white buttons are used to indicate whether you should hit the upper or the bottom row. This also allows barré patterns to come into play, which results in an utterly authentic feeling for music nerds. No matter if it’s a breakdown in Pierce The Veil’s King for a Day, or a chord pattern in Katy Perry’s Waking up in Vegas – this game will allow you to forget that you’re playing on a plastic controllers at some times. The changes seem minor on first sight, but reinvent the whole experience by eliminating the pinkie stretching of previous games. From a guitar player’s standpoint, I was never as much into a rhythm game as I am into Guitar Hero Live. Still, I would have hoped for a better controller quality, as a considerable amount arrives faulty. Both of my two guitar controllers had either trouble registering input or sticky buttons. Yet, my second set of guitars performed flawlessly. Don’t be afraid to send them in if a little issue appears to narrow your experience, it is definitely worth it.
The disc includes 42 songs, which are all fully perfomed by fictional bands with actors. All these music groups differ in terms of appearance, as they are all assigned to a certain style and scene. But not only the bands are distinguishable like this, also the audience changes according to the style of music. It’s incredibly authentic to see a hippie group perform perform a song of The Lumineers or Passenger at a friendly festival, after playing a massive street gig with a hardcore-looking rock group, performing songs of Bring Me The Horizon and Of Mice & Men. The immersive first-person look and your fellow musicians throwing cheesy looks at you only exaggerate the feeling of being fully included in the whole scenario. At first, I had my doubts with this kind of presentation, but then I was blown away how much effort flew into its details. The only point worth mentioning is the missing balance between the mood of the audience – they can either be leaping for joy or booing you to death. A third layer of emotions would have led to an even more realistic feeling.
The original MTV
The presumably best thing of Guitar Hero Live is its DLC policy. Beside the on-disc songs, Activision provides a 24/7 two-channel network, constantly pumping music into your living room with themed programs. Instead of paid DLC, you can either play live with these programs to earn coins, or use the in-game currency to access songs on demand. The library contains over 200 tracks with official music videos or live performances and will continuously be upgraded with new songs and special programs. This Netflix feeling is something completely new to the video game cosmos and feels fresh to explore. I for myself consider this much more attractive than paying extra for each additional song, only to notice that I don’t even like the virtual version of this track. It feels like coming home when you turn on your TV and find out that you can play to your favourite genre. Guitar Hero Live achieved to recreate the long-forgotten MTV mentality, which is certainly a noteworthy accomplishment.
Ready to become a Rock God?
With Guitar Hero Live, the British developer FreeStyleGames has successfully revived a dead franchise. If you’re lucky enough to receive a flawless guitar controller, you will undoubtedly be entertained by the most diverse and challenging song library ever included into a music game. Make sure to invite your friends to rock the new live channels 24/7 while earning enough coins to access the ever-growing list of songs. However, be careful – Guitar Hero Live will certainly let you miss the good old MTV times.
What we liked:
- Brilliant controller redesign
- Huge song library
- Great music choice
- Revolutionary DLC system
What we didn’t like:
- Flawed guitar controllers
- Only two crowd reactions
This article was written by using a PlayStation 4 launch bundle with two controllers. How do you like Guitar Hero Live compared to Rock Band? What do you think about the new TV feature? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!