Friday, November 28, 2008

Guitar Hero: World Tour First Impressions

I was fortunate enough to have had a lengthy two sessions with a complete (Drums, Bass, Guitar and Microphone) copy of Rock Band, err, Guitar Hero.

It is really good. Why? A number of reasons. Firstly, the drums are great fun, much funner (and harder) than the guitar. It has what makes the guitar fun (and hard) and then increased it. When you are getting a good streak with the drums and you are hitting pads all over the place, it feels really cool - just like when you have a long continuous streak of notes on the guitar.

The problem with the drums is two fold. Firstly, the learning curve is very steep. Even at easy, you must use ALL the pads and the pedal. I understand for it to be fun, pads have to be on opposite sides, so how about leave out the green pad (in the middle) and the pedal - which requires an extra layer of co-ordination.

The other problem is sensitivity. The pads on the your left, a slight tap is enough, any more is excessive, but the pads that are hit less often do not register. This is slightly off putting. The pedal is also really hard to use, and not just because it is not with your hands. Personally, I think it would be better, if a little strange, if it activated star power, as that is also absurdly hard as it is and you use it less frequently than the pedal as it stands.

Despite all this, the drums are great fun. The microphone, on the other hand, feels quite gimmicky. It does have a nice weight to it, and it doesn't look tacky, but actually playing it is more a matter of luck than skill. You can say anything you like, as the game is only measuring the pitch. While I am sure there will be some people who can control their pitch perfectly, the role feels somewhat superfluous and silly. If the game came with a stand, so you could play a instrument at the same time, it would be good, but seeming as the real singer still sings over the top, it just doesn't have the same satisfaction factor as the other real instruments.

So how about the guitars, well they still hold their own. It is easy to forget that amongst all this plastic it was they who started all this 3 short years ago. It is incredible to see how far this genre as come, from ELC style guitars with covers of unheard of records to this - a complete band kit with unembarassing style and a large and impressive set list featuring huge bands.

Which brings me on to my final point: the track list is fantastic. Normally, I am forced to stick with a few indie (in the modern sense, not the non-recorded sense, such as the Killers or Razorlight) tracks and maybe a David Bowie song. GH:WT covers all tastes, with plenty of songs that I like. It is a shame that they removed so many songs to sell back to people (there are giant gaps in the playlist that are being released for DLC, it sucks).

Overall, here is a game that has shown how to refine it's game play to the extreme. They haven't added a lot to this game - open strumming for the bass, a solo thing for the guitar - but it all fits in well to the game mechanics. Now, just don't realease any more, just sell song packs... cheaply?

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