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Published on October 22nd, 2015 | by Chris Scott

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One Hour In: Guitar Hero Live

I have a long history with Guitar Hero dating back to Guitar Hero II on the Xbox 360, having played every sequel and spin-off since then. And while I eventually shifted over to Rock Band as my rhythm game of choice, I’ve always held a special spot in my heart for the Guitar Hero franchise. And just like with Rock Band, I’ve been waiting patiently for the return of the plastic instrument. That time is now. Yesterday Guitar Hero Live showed up on my doorstep courtesy of Activision. These are my quick thoughts on the two hours of play I got in.

  • The guitar is nice and weighty with a nice audible click to the strum bar. It feels real good hanging from the strap. And unlike the Rock Band 4 instruments, it works out of the box with the preview dashboard so I don’t need to keep a regular controller on to touch after every song for fear that my Xbox will go into screen rest protection mode. It also looks kind of cool.
  • The guitar however requires a USB receiver, and it is tiny. So tiny I feel I might lose it at some point if I ever unplug it from my console.
  • The tutorial drops you into the new tab notation. It is easy to get into and feels quite natural. The FMV here is goofy but in a good way.
  • The new tab notation is easy to get into and feels natural. I’ll occasionally miss notes I most certainly wouldn’t miss in old-style GH or Rock Band, but it is nice to actually feel like I’m learning a new skill (even if that skill is utterly useless anywhere else).
  • The FMV campaign is goofy but fun.
  • The new tab notation mixed with the goofy but fun campaign has made the fact that I don’t necessarily love (or even like) most of the songs on the disc a non-issue because I’m enjoying playing the songs regardless.
  • GHTV, a separate mode from the campaign, is actually a lot of fun. Instead of goofy fun FMV, it drops into a television style block of videos that can be played (think MTV back when MTV played videos).
  • GHTV is played competitively against a group of nine, at least I think it is nine, other players. As you play, your score will move you up and down a score ladder with other gamertags. It is totally innocuous and doesn’t infringe on your ability to play the song but it’s nice to see where you stand during a performance against others of similar skill.
  • There is a persistent leveling system that can see you customize your player card and power-ups (yes, there are power-ups) in GHTV. These unlocks can be either earned or purchased using coins that you get from completing songs in GHTV.
  • These coins can also be used to purchase Play Tokens which are basically one-use items to play any song available on the GHTV network at any time. If you don’t have any Play Tokens, you have to play the randomized TV blocks or go back to the Live mode and play the disc based songs. These tokens can also be purchased using real money. There is also a $6 Party Pass that grants access to free-play of everything for a 24 hour time-period.
  • I’m not sure how I feel about the Play Tokens/Party Pass just yet, they don’t seem intrusive but I haven’t felt a need to try singular songs in GHTV out either as the randomized blocks were fine for the little bit I’ve played thus far.

In the couple hours I’ve played, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen. It’s an innovation on the rhythm game for sure and seems to have some really good ideas and maybe some misguided ones as well. More to come in an official review after I sink a bunch more time into it.

 

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