Review by EightBallLast

"Forget Jukebox Hero, be a full blown GUITAR HERO!"

The latest release in the rhythm market is Harmonix Guitar Hero, allowing you to play your axe like a Rock n' Roll all-star. The concept is simple and traditional - play the notes as they scroll down the screen. It is the presentation and execution the G. Hero steals the show.

Presentation:

Sound - What would a rhythm game be without quality sound? Ephemeral Phantasia, thats what! All joking aside, this should be the most important presentation aspect of all rhythm\music games, and luckily, Harmonix got the memo. Not only do all these songs sound great, they are GREAT SONGS! None of the generic beats or repetitive club style music of other games, G. Hero has a giant roster of fully licensed rock favorites, from classic rock greats to newer indie breakouts. While none of the original cuts are present (all the tracks are covers.) they all sound so authentic, you'll hardly notice the difference!

Graphics - While looking at the graphics for more than a second in a game like this is a sure way to get you booed off stage, a little visual flair helps to keep you entertained while your buddies are hacking up the solo in "More than a Feeling". The gritty and over-sized cartoon character look fits the game well, as it looks like a day dream playing out on the screen. The crowd will react to the quality of your play, stuffing their hands in their pockets or rocking out as hard as their little bodies can move. Add in an interactive band that follows your lead as you play and dozens of guitar skins for your thrasher, and the graphics of this game rival any other rhythm game on the market.

Interface - A basic interface with some cool rock-style twists. The guitar controller can be used to navigate menus, which mostly have the feel of being backstage while waiting to go and play a set. Several concert poster style screens guide you into each song, and following your performance a local newspaper article shows your results. Easy to follow and right in line with the theme, the interface of G. Hero does nothing but add to the experience.

Gameplay - Now the real meat for the review. After all, who cares about the rest if this part ain't solid gold? Luckily, the folks at Harmonix managed to work out a deal with those genius tech guys at Red Octane to bring you a miniature Gibson SG Guitar as you controller. Thats right, a 3/4 scale replica Gibson is your tool to rock the socks off the masses. A simple five button fret-board gives you access to all the notes while an innovative "strum bar" allows you to play without the need for strings. Add in a Whammy Bar for flair during your solos and you've got the closest thing to a rock legend caliber guitar resting neatly in your closet. Don't expect it to stay in their much, however, as G. Hero's familiar songs and simple play style will leave you helpless to put the guitar away. You have to be to work in less than 10 minutes? No worries, thats more than enough time to nail the Iron Man solo one last time for the day.

Staying Power - Sure its a great game and you haven't had this much fun playing a fake guitar since you did an air guitar solo for you grade school talent show, but just how long can Guitar Hero keep you interested? With a set list of almost 50 songs, four difficulty settings, multi-player, and a slew of unlockables for purchase with gig money (nice touch Harmonix) Guitar Hero will keep the amps turned up and your groupies awake for a good long while.

Closing Comments - An all around great rhythm game with great playability. My only complaint is that it doesn't offer a little flexibility in freestyle play (remember Um-Jammer-Lammy's solo sequences? That would have ruled) and the tougher licks need to be played several times to get them down right. Other than that, Guitar Hero will have you jumping around your living room and rocking out like you were at the MSG. Sure the cheers are electronic and the guitar is fake, but who cares when you feel like the coolest freaking rocker to ever take the stage? Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go show Eric Clapton and Billy Gibons what it really means to rock!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/19/05


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