I’ve played a bunch of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but I bought my own copy of either franchise only last night.
One of the things that sets AAA games apart from lesser offerings is menu design. Far too often it feels like the menus were cobbled together as the last thing to do before shipping. In Guitar Hero III, you’re in the game’s world from the first piece of art you see, and you’re never taken out of the experience when you’re navigating the game’s interface. Oh, and you can read everything without squinting – important when your game is likely to be played inebriated.
The Gibson Les Paul guitar controller feels mighty fine. It’s got weight, a good strap and the frets have a nice feel to them. It looks pretty sweet as well. The Rock Band Stratocaster’s strum bar’s soft touch feels better to me than the mechanical click of the Les Paul strum bar, though.
I do like the fact it’s wireless. During my initial session with the game, I played standing up, sitting and lying down on the couch and sitting on the floor… it would feel a little wrong to need to mind the cables, although a case could be made for authenticity.
I was not aware of it, but apparently the Les Paul works just fine with the Xbox 360 Rock Band as well. Once the separate Rock Band mic, drums and game finally arrive, that’ll be a long penny saved, not to mention storage space.
The game is just as fun as it ever was. I’ve heard comments to the contrary, too, but those are coming from established Guitar Hero fans, who’ve played the previous editions thoroughly. I didn’t notice anything out of place in the couple of hours I rocked away. Even the much-maligned guitar battles with rock legends (Tom Morello, Slash) felt good, especially since I was given the option to jump to the next gig after having lost to Morello a bunch of times. (Slash I took down.)
The setlist is great stuff. For me, highlights include Bulls on Parade, Paranoid, My Name is Jonas, Knights of Cydonia and The Number of the Beast. I wish they had more modern metal, although some has already been made available for separate download. I’m missing some songs from the previous editions, but I can always get Guitar Hero II, which includes downloadable songs from the first game, which was never released on the 360.
I downloaded a bunch of free songs and there’s a nice selection of paid content available, too. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, they put up free downloads of the Dropkick Murphys. I think that promises good things in terms of continuing support for the game.
News broke that they’re working on a Beatles edition of Guitar Hero. Great idea there, but maybe a Rolling Stones edition would have been more appropriate? They do need to think about how to differentiate themselves from Rock Band. For instance, metal on the whole feels more guitar than band material to me, gaming-wise. Then again, they’re planning on releasing a new version annually. That doesn’t seem too wise to me. They could just keep releasing albums and song packs for paid download and make a killing. Give me Iron Maiden, System of a Down, Paradise Lost, Rage Against the Machine… I’d be a sure sucker to buy it all. Niche bands don’t fit into the core games that well, but surely they’d work as downloadable content and their audience is a sure sell.