State of the Game: The Guitar Hero Series.


pogowolf Anyone that knows me knows I enjoy the Guitar Hero series (PS2 version) However ever since Harmonix was bought out by MTV I’m watching the series spiral into depths of hoe-hum gaming.   

Guitar Hero 1 was a great game, but not without its flaws.  The game was too ‘tight’ for most gamers requiring almost pin-point accuracy while strumming.  Not too hard for those with really good hand-eye coordination (Read Gamers and above) but for gamer newbie’s it was almost impossible without a lot of practice.

So Harmonix took that into account (and the need for the feature because of crappy HD TV people got suckered into buying) and added a little piece of programming into Guitar Hero 2;  to allow you to ‘sync’ the guitar with the refresh rate of the TV.  Scores started to rise due to this change and being a little more lenient on the strumming, along with a massive graphics upgrade, a good set list, and high quality music tracks from the ‘wanna-bes’ and quite a few master tracks from the stars.

Then MTV said, Wow.. that Guitar Hero game is cool.. let’s buy Harmonix!  And it was so.  Activision, not to be left out, bought out the publisher and IP holder (the product); Red Octane.   After all the dust settled, the developers of Guitar Hero lost the brand name to Activision and the ability to build upon the engine they created from the previous two games.  Activision gained a good game and a good engine but lost the team that made it all possible.

So what happened because of this buyout?  Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80’s..  The weird bastard step-child that no one really talks about. Whereas there was no real issue with the engine, the set list wasn’t that great and to make matters worse, 90% of the game was done by wanna-be bands with horrible musical quality verses the original songs.

Pogo was not impressed. 

So Activision, now the owner of the series,  sic’d one of their better developer houses loose on Guitar Hero.    Now NeverSoft is known mostly for their Tony Hawk skating games, but they have a good track record and the hope was to splash a little flash into the series and GH3 was the result.

Now Guitar Hero 3 isn’t a bad game by any means, but you can tell there’s just not the same passion that went into Guitar Hero 1 and 2.  Some of the song choices left you scratching your head and you can see that Activision just does not have the cash or the clout to be able to pull down big bands like AC/DC.  Yeah, they got Metallica, but come on.. if there’s money to be made, Metallica will either sell their souls or sue you for the cash.  There also was some poor design choices made while designing the new version of the series.   But I can cut them some slack because it’s a new developer, getting used to a new code set.  They had some pretty big shoes to fill.

Harmonix stated originally that the Guitar Hero series was to be branched out into other games like ‘Drummer Hero’ and ‘Bass Hero’ and that there would be ‘versions’ of the game like ‘Country hero’ or ‘Pop Hero’, so creating one band  version doesn’t surprise me.  What does surprise me is that it’s Aerosmith.   *blink*

Now..   Activision has the potential to unleash another steaming turd on the gaming community.  

I guess someone upstairs thought it would be a good idea to use a big name (but cheap) band that’s well past its prime and pretty low on the popularity scale at the moment.  But still has some pretty good songs and quite a few popular songs even if they aren’t getting much air time.  Aerosmith, looking for a way to re-energize their songs and gain the ability to DO something with the band, was looking for a way to bring back of the ‘sweet emotion’ of past days of glory. 

‘Dream on’ is my thought.  Whereas I don’t think this game will bomb, I don’t think it’s going to sell partially well either.  Some people might state ‘I don’t want to miss a thing’ but personally I’m getting a bit ‘Jaded’ with the direction I’m seeing Guitar Hero going.  The series is no longer ‘Livin’ on the Edge’ and going to leave quite a few people ‘Cryin’ to Activison wondering if they have gone ‘Crazy’ and wondering where their ‘Amazing’ game has gone!

Then, to make matters really sink in,  I get an Email from the Red Octane Store.. PRE-ORDER NOW!   For $50 USD and get a free keychain!!    Woot!  A keychain.. Blah.  Pass.

But $50 bucks!?    $50 bucks for what will be mostly to all Aerosmith songs?  ‘Dude’.. ‘Get a grip’  I could buy all the albums and the sheet music for all the songs for less money and the $50 is for PS2/Wii version!   If you have a ‘main stream’ console like the Xbox 360 or the PS3 you’re paying out $60.  Why?  There are more WII’s in homes then Xbox 360 and PS3 combined, but the price is cheaper?  I just hope Activision does ‘what it takes’ to make sure the game isn’t released with mono sound like Guitar Hero 3 was for the Wii.

Activision needs to get the game away from ‘The Other Side’  and ‘Come Together’ to produce a new Guitar help that isn’t full of gimmicks, has the best sound quality possible, and allows people to do what the game originally envisioned.  Allow people to look silly beating on a plastic guitar imagining themselves on stage totally rocking out.

Perhaps, I’ll be proven wrong and the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith game will show that Activision has gotten ‘Back in the Saddle’ with this ‘Angel’ of a game and not kill the series and allow it to be dumped in the gutter like a lost child’s ‘Rag Doll’  But at this rate, it’s ‘Love in an elevator’. 

The series is going…  down.

=========================================================

[PogoWolf]  Yeah, I figured out my knowledge is great.  I’m an excellent gamer and know my ass from a C-Prompt.  However, I can’t spell worth a crap.   So, I ‘hired’ in an Editor in cheif.  Welcome… Shasta McNasty.

Comments from the Editor in Chief of GamersVue:

Shasta I am a musician, always have been, and I am a guitar player, which means that when I finally got my hands on GH1, while I wanted to strum away as though I was playing Live Aid in ’85 (which is the liberty of playing actual guitar), but instead, I confided to a series of scrolling dots on a screen.  Of course, after transfixing your eyes on the screen for a period of time, when looking away, the whole world seems to scroll up, it’s almost better than an acid trip, only without the DEA looking over your shoulder.  None the less, despite what my eyes and strum-patterns wanted to do, I played by GH’s rules. 

Overall, I enjoyed the entertainment of the game.  It was fun, but realized there could be so much more to the game. The much anticipated release of GH2 was a far cry from the GH1 with a lot more goodies, and a much needed practice mode. The song selection was much better due to its popularity of the first one, many additional bands jumped on the GH bandwagon. After speaking with the Pogo, and learned 3rd installment of the GH sequence, I started to wane a little on the quality of the game.

It started to remind me of the ‘Friday, the 13th’ movie series that just kept going on and on, and this couldn’t be more true than seeing GH Rock’n 80’s.  I mean seriously…  At this point, I unless the original developers of GH1-2 come back and buy the game back from the powerhouse that is Activision, the game will continue to slide the slippery slope into sequel-town, trying to recapture the success of the original release, but failing miserably.  The only series in video game history that I know of that was successful in its sequels was the Mario Bros. series. 

I’m calling this now, ‘Guitar Hero: Aerosmith edition’ will be the red-headed step child of the GH series and people will try to forget (using lots of beer and or therapy) that this game was ever released.  If you are a sports movie fan, you might equate this to the Rocky V flick of the Rocky series.  It just never happened…

So, what do you GH fans go from here?  I see a couple of choices to be had. 

1.  Admit that GH will be dead in a few short months and move on to something else.  It was a great game, but like anything else when big name companies try and capitalize on the small-people success, it just a business check away from swirling down the toilet. 

2. Convince you and a set of your friends to invest two-hundred bones in ‘Rock Band’ or

3.  Pick up and play a real guitar.  You get more girls that way. [PogoWolf:  Personally I would say play the drums.  Drummers rule!]

In a world where introverts look down at their shoes and extroverts look down at your shoes, I’m Shasta McNasty, and like a case of herpes, I’m out; but I’ll be back…

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