I've always been a fan of the Rock Band series. Ever since I got Rock Band 2 for the PS3 and rocked out loud with my friends and siblings to our favorite songs, I couldn't put down the fake guitar! I enjoyed the Guitar Hero series as well, but I always preferred the multiplayer-focused Harmonix series!
So when Rock Band 4 came along, I of course had to get it as soon as possible. I saved all my money to get the guitar bundle- because I already had the other instruments needed, and ordered it hastily!
When it arrived, I was not disappointed—but I do have to say that I was a little underwhelmed. Rock Band 4 certainly isn't a bad game, it's quite the opposite. Full of familiar controls epic music and an RPG-inspired story mode, RB4 was a dream come true! But at the same time, it just felt too familiar.
The familiarity and the backwards-compatibility were two of its main selling points, and I was happy to see that Rock Band was still its former glorious self. But I don't know, I guess I was expecting something just a little newer. Rock Band 4 definitely made it feel like the franchise had never left, but it also made it feel like it wasn't willing to take risks to change - lest it disappoint its large fanbase.
So while I'll certainly still keep on rocking on in Rock Band 4, I don't think it's the music game of the year. That title goes to a game I was certain would actually disappoint: Guitar Hero Live.
When I first heard of Guitar Hero Live, I was pretty interested. It sounded awesome, being able to play onstage in a real setting in front of real people really cheering you on (all pre-recorded of course)!
But then I learned more about the game, and from the sounds of it, it sounded like just another game that relied too heavily on micro-transactions. It sounded like in order to really enjoy the game, I'd have to shell out cash each time I wanted to play one of my favorite songs, and that I wouldn't even get to keep it afterwards.
Well now that I own Guitar Hero Live, I can safely say that's only half true—and it doesn't take away from the great experience of this game at all! Guitar Hero Live is a great game, perhaps the greatest music game of ALL TIME! A bold statement I know, but it's true, and hopefully these 4 reasons why will get you thinking the same way!
4. The Live!
One of the main selling mechanics of Guitar Hero Live is that it's "live". Now obviously it's not actually live, meaning you aren't really playing in front a group of people waiting to hear you rock out to their favorite jams. The people are real, but everything was of course pre-recorded for the game.
Another thing to note is that the songs you play- while real songs and not covers- are "performed" by fake bands like Vivid Screams and The Out Outs, instead of the actual bands that made them. Nevertheless, the Live portion of the game is incredible!
Every moment you're on the stage you feel like a real rock star! Everything from the environment, to the crowd's reactions, to the interactions between you and your band mates gets you psyched to shred your guitar!
Developer FreeStyleGames made sure to make the Live experience as realistic as possible. When you're playing well, the crowd lets you know by cheering loud an singing along to the song. You'll even get some really wild fans trying to jump on stage, before security nabs them.
If you start to play terribly, the crowd will also inform you of this with some mad faces and resounding boos, and your band mates won't be too happy with you either.
The Live portion of the game is broken up into a dozen or so sets, containing around 3-5 songs and featuring banter between band mates and seamless song transitioning. It's pretty tough to explain how all of this makes an incredible live experience, but once you actually play it, you'll see why the Live portion of GH Live is so much fun!
4. The Songs!
Guitar Hero Live has a number of awesome songs to rock out to! Featuring songs by Green Day, The Black Keys and Queen among others, GH Live sports a ton of familiar tunes!
Admittedly, most of the songs are pretty recent- with only a few of them being classics from the 60's and 70's- so if you're looking for a ton of classics like the original GH games had, you'll be out of luck.
But don't let that ruin it for you, all of the songs in this game are enjoyable! They may not all be rock classic, but they're certainly all rocking hits! There are 42 songs available on-disc. But if that's not enough for you, there's always DLC, right? Well, not exactly. Guitar Hero Live has forgone the traditional inclusion of DLC that every music game has for something much, MUCH better!
GHTV is so large that it's practically a second game! It'd be easier to just write a separate article about the mode, but I'll just stick to one for now.
Guitar Hero TV sounds like a channel you watch on your television, but it's so much more than that! GHTV is described as a feature used to discover music, and it certainly does its job. In GHTV, you can choose between a number of channels, each containing curated blocks that air music videos that you can either just watch or play along to.
The blocks are usually themed a certain way. For instance, you'll have a block like 'Pop A-Z', which of course plays pop songs like "Shut up and Dance" by Walk The Moon and "Live While We're Young" by One Direction. If Pop's not your style, you'll also get Rock blocks featuring songs like "Limelight" by Rush and "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne!
From Pop to Rock, to Indie and more, you'll have no trouble finding a song to jam to! There are literally hundreds to choose from! And I'm not using literally in the not at all literal sense that you everyone on the internet uses, GHTV launched with over 200 songs available—and new songs are added almost every week!
Of course, none of these songs are actually on the disc, they're streamed through the GHTV service. And though they're all there for you to play, you can't exactly keep them. This is the biggest thing that strays people away from the game, but having played it, I can tell you its a great system that just wasn't advertised enough or as clearly.
See, all the songs on GHTV are available to play for free through the channels. Think of these channels like a callback to the old days of MTV and VH1, back when they played music all day long. When playing these channels, you don't exactly have a choice of what song comes on. If you want to play a certain song, it'll cost you. But don't worry, because...
Paying Is OPTIONAL!
Yes, GHTV does feature the dreaded micro-transaction system. You can spend money to play your favorite songs over and over again, but it is in no way required. While paying does give you a bit of a head start in some cases, you can play through every portion of GHTV without paying a single dime! All it takes is work and dedication!
If you have a song you like, and want to play it without waiting for it to show up on the GHTV channels again, you can use a "Play". Playing a song cost just one Play, and you can earn more by either leveling up, spending real money on Hero Cash which can then be used to buy Plays, or by using in-game coins.
Luckily, in-game coins are earned the old-fashioned way, by playing songs. All you have to do is play through the channels, and you'll earn coins to buy plays. Coins are also used for Hero Powers- which are GH Live's version of power ups- and guitar upgrades. Besides all of that, there are also Premium Shows.
When I first heard about Premium Shows, I was worried. Just that word alone, premium, in gaming it's always been used for those players who are willing to shell out tons of money to gain early access to content that others would have to wait weeks for. Again, this is half true.
Like everything else in GHTV, you can pay, but again like everything else, you don't have to- and not paying doesn't necessarily make you worse than players who do pay.
Premium Shows include new songs that have yet to be added to GHTV's song catalog or the channels. To access these shows, you can either spend Hero Cash (which you can only get by spending real cash) or you can complete certain challenges in the game.
The challenges are usually pretty straightforward, usually all you have to do is get a certain number of points or stars on a certain song or songs. You'll have to use your plays to play the songs so you can beat the challenges, but again, it's free to do so.
All in all, Guitar Hero Live is a great game for every music fan! With tons of songs to choose from, and a constant stream of new ones coming in, you'll never get tired of it! Yes, paying is an option, but it isn't the only one.
All it takes is a little hard work and determination, and you can rack up enough in-game points and play your favorite songs for the low price of 100% free! So what are you waiting for? Get GH Live today and start rocking!