Thursday, November 18, 2010

REVIEW: Guitar Hero 5


Yeah, the website named after Rock Band is reviewing Guitar Hero. I got an Xbox 360 not too long ago, and I needed a guitar controller. Luckily I was able to get the bundle for $45.

Obviously a review for a year old game in a major franchise that everybody got is very fucking pointless, but I'll give it a shot.

OK, so Guitar Hero 5 is the game where Neversoft FINALLY got all their shit together.

Guitar Hero 3 was a double assault of difficulty. The developer, being new at making charts, and a game company as opposed to a collective of musicians, didn't know what they were doing. That's why you see things like power chords charted with three notes, and Drop D tuning charted like power chords. Also, it feels like for the first half of the set list, they did a good job, but for the last two tiers, they listened to Score Hero and picked ridiculously hard metal.

Guitar Hero: World Tour suffered from trying to copy the Rock Band formula of having all four parts. A lot of the songs were taken from Rock Band 2, and the engine looked worse than 3 somehow. It was them starting all over again, basically. Any game using that engine (Smash Hits, Van Halen) looked weird and felt a little off timing wise.

Metallica I didn't play, but Smash Hits I did, and the demo for GH: VH.

Guitar Hero 5 is the 7th(?) effort from Neversoft, 3rd main game, and while it does have some problems, they've gotten so much right it's the only one I've enjoyed since 2.

Graphics wise, the character models are a lot smoother and more muted. The camerawork isn't as sophisticated or as diverse in Rock Band, but there's still enough to go on, and the characters animate appropriately, especially in songs such as "Sweating Bullets" where the singer sings right into the camera, in that whole "linear motion capture" thing I talked about.

While I at first balked at the soundtrack, there were a lot of songs I ended up liking. "They Say" by Scars On Broadway, "In The Meantime" by Spacehog, "Streamline Woman" by Gov't Mule, and "Six Days A Week" by The Bronx are a couple I've grown to love. I've even grown to disagree with Yahtzee's take on GH5, saying that aren't any epic classics. I point you to "Spirit Of The Radio" and "Do You Feel Like We Do?" While they aren't on the scale of "Freebird" and "Bark At The Moon", I still love 'em.

The difficulty curve is scizophrenic, where on the first tier I have "Sympathy For The Devil" that I almost failed out on, and on the sixth tier is Weezer's "Why Bother?" which is like "Song 2"-lite.
Other than that, it's basically the same thing. I was happy with the avatar I was able to set up from square one, so the challenges didn't really appeal to me that much. They did get me to switch over to bass every so often, which is really simple to do, at least in solo career.

While it's a bitch to setup since I'm playing on a non-CRT TV, the guitar I'm starting to get into. It's got a nice big, strum bar, slidey parts I don't have to use, and all the buttons are out of the way. The only thing I don't like about it is the whammy bar. It's not as loose as the RB Stratocaster's, and while we're on the subject, going from the Rock Band guitars to this brand was all CLICKITY CLICK CLICK CLICK. However, it does recognize up-strumming, so I was able to get the "Flawless Groove" achievement in RB2. Although I can't use the slide bar as solo buttons, so fuck that noise.

Party Play is a nice addition. It's NaNoWriMo, so I'd let the thing run in the background, work on the novel, and then pick it up whenever a song comes on.

What it seems to be my problem with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, other than whole ManBearPig Rocker transformations, is that while the core elements are retained, it seems like they went back to the Guitar Hero 3 way of doing things: listening to ScoreHero and picking the uberhard metal. While GHWOR's soundtrack still has some easy, recognizable songs, but the last two stages are just so jam packed with MACHINEGUNSKITTLEZ metal (also known as 'Sperg Metal for short), that I can't get into it.

Guitar Hero 3 was arguably the most popular one, because it was in the right place at the right time: GH2 just started to generate some buzz about the franchise, and by 3 people were eagerly awaiting the newest

GH5's final tier has a nice mix of prog, metal and blues, so even if I don't like one song, I can just skip over it and try harder on the others, since it has the "Earn X Stars" rubric that every game since GH: Metallica had. And yes, challenges do count toward your overall total. (1* for completeing them on the lowest level, +2* for the next highest, with the highest level granting you 3 extra stars)

FINAL VERDICT: Well, it's a year old so don't expect anyone to play with you (except for me). For the people who have been Rock Band purists this whole time, it's a lot of fun, and a pretty good change of pace. Also, consider it the only way you'll be able to play:
-"Sympathy For The Devil" by The Rolling Stones
-"All Along The Watchtower" by Bob Dylan
-"Spirit of the Radio" by Rush
-Anything by Muse other than "Hysteria"
-"Bullet With Butterfly Wings" by The Smashing Pumpkins
-and Kevin Bacon

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