Review by neonreaper
A decent music game with a catchy gimmick, and terrific to play with other people.
It's hard to believe that this game is still as recent as late 2005, it feels so old compared to the games that came out a few years later, and the overall music game craze feels like it's been longer than 4-5 years. Harmonix had put out a few music games before, Frequency and Amplitude, as well as a karaoke game that did a good job bridging the gap between a flat out karaoke device and a game, laying out the basics for their vocal portion of Rock Band. I enjoy music games just fine, I'm not particularly good at them and I'd prefer to learn to play the real thing. This isn't a knock at anything or anyone, and I am aware that there's a common "why not just learn to play a real instrument" argument that has been around as long as the first person who saw a Guitar Hero demo and didn't care for it. So any practice to improve my skills feels like a waste.
And so it was holiday season 2005, I was looking around for a gift for someone, probably a DVD set, and I saw the Guitar Hero demo station, someone playing an Ozzy song I think. I couldn't make up my mind - lame or fun? I didn't make any decision yet, and soon enough we ended up with our own plastic guitar and sticker set. I probably played through on medium, had a decent time, but didn't think it was a terrific experience. I liked a lot of the music they chose, and the presentation was fairly easy to get into, but there wasn't much to it. Pick out a guy, play songs, move on to the next song. I think this is the first real issue Harmonix had to clear - making the game feel like a game instead of a list of songs to play through.
The characters are all neat, you'll find 1-2 people you enjoy playing as. They have different antics during solos and such, so it's fun to watch if you can spare the attention. I think there are a couple alternate costumes for the characters. The venues are really fun, you have some nicely done smaller areas, and as you continue, you move onto some bigger and crazier arenas. There's a sense that you've moved on to near cosmic popularity as you get to the final parts of the game, all in good fun.
The setlist is good, I liked a lot of the songs, a good mix of different types of rock. All the songs are covers, very impressive ones at that. It's another little negative that they didn't get the real tracks, as you'll be able to tell when a song isn't the main recording you're used to hearing, but at the same time you'll be impressed at how well they pulled all the covers off.
What makes the game fun is the multiplayer. It's nothing too special, but playing together is often the most fun parts of gaming in general, and it's supported in Guitar Hero. You can play together or against one another, though you're stuck on the same difficulty level, which is fine when everyone is drunk and medium will suffice, but when someone is naturally good at the game, they will be too bored with it, or someone will have to step up and they might not be good enough for that yet. Frustrating lack of foresight in this game, but it's still a fun time.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Guitar Hero (w/Guitar) (US, 11/07/05)
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