Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Okay... I Remember NOW Why Guitar Hero Sucks...

In the beginning, there was Guitar Hero. And that was okay. In fact, pre-RockBand, GH was actually pretty sweet. How fukkin cool was it to pretend you actually have some musical talent and totally rock out in front of a simulated crowd? It was fun... until RockBand was released.

RockBand was created by a group of Guitar Hero defectors, that left RedOctane (GH game developer) to form Harmonix (RB game developer) and decided to do things there own way. They capitalized on what they had learned developing GH and took the rockin-out genre to a new level. With the introduction of a drum set and microphone, you were no longer stuck simply playing lead guitar by yourself, while all your friends were out getting laid. With RB, you could invited your friends over, and everyone could join in on the abstinence. So obviously, with the introduction of additional instruments, for both variety and social gameplay, RB did not quickly grow stagnate. But the guys at Harmonix had yet another trick up there sleves. They also teamed up with EA, who has quite a bit of influence (read: MONEY) in the industry. Enter RockBand's downloadable content. Both GH and RB have downloadables, but RB consistently releases at least 3 downloads each Tuesday, with varying styles, from Disturbed to Jimmy Buffet... something for every musical taste. This keeps RB fresh and fun, while GH weeps in the corner because nobody wants to play with him.

The folks at Guitar Hero knew they were being crushed by RockBand, so to step up their game a notch, they've announced the upcoming release of Guitar Hero World Tour, complete with drum set and microphone. Granted, the drums are different (three pads and two symbols), but frankly it's still a blatent rip-off of RB. In my opinion, GH has dropped the ball again. Instead of raising the bar with maybe an interactive keyboard or turntables or something unique, they've just copied what has worked for RockBand. Copying RB might not be a bad thing, but how sustainable is that strategy? Especially if they don't have the "connections" to release quality downloads?

Interestingly, today those crazy SOB's at RB announced plans to release RockBand 2 in September. Right now there's not much information about what to expect out of RB2, but there better be something new to up the ante. And I'm not talking about a new, stylized guitar. I want a keyboard, or turntables, or dare I say COWBELL. Give me something else other than a game with updated graphics and a $60 price tag that could be better spent on downloads. I have confidence that the team at RB is smarter than that and will surprise us. That is unless they've been forced to rush the release of RB2 to stay ahead of GH.

With all that behind me, let me tell you about the motivation for this post in the first place... GUITAR HERO: AEROSMITH. Yes I am an Aerosmith fan, and yes I am addicted to rockin' out on a faux-guitar. But I wasn't entirely enthused to own this game. I will admit, I was somewhat pressured to buy this game. You see, at work, we have been forced by the corporate machine to push video game pre-sales on our customers. My sales were down, so I put up the money to buy a copy of GH:A way back in April. So when GH:A was released Saturday night at midnight, I was there to pick up my copy. I've been playing it for two days now, and MY review is in.

Let me begin by saying that this game is a HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT. Don't waste your money. If you want to play it, I will lend you my copy when I'm done with it in a few days. (BTW, I am serious, if you want it, I will lend it to you... BTBz ONLY). So why was the game so disappointing? First off, it's not RockBand... obviously. You play the set list, unlock more songs, play them, etc. Then when you're done, that's it. You can't rock out on drums or sing along. I found myself more than once craving the drums on certain songs, especially Sweet Emotion. But no, I'll just sit here and play the guitar part. And who doesn't know all the lyrics to Aerosmith's best hits? I'd love to be able to sing along. But no, I can't sing into a guitar. I just found myself wanting more to do. Maybe I'm just a RockBand snob, but with an epic band such as Aerosmith with their plethora of hits, they (Aerosmith) have done themselves a disservice aligning themselves with a game that doesn't have drums and vocals. Aerosmith would have been perfect for RB.

The second disappointment is the set list. Sure it contains most of Aerosmith's greatest hits like Dream On, Sweet Emotion, Rag Doll, and Walk This Way (the RUN DMC version by the way - which was a pleasant surprise.) But there was also way-old Aerosmith songs I wasn't too familiar with (No Suprise, Bright Light Fright), and brand new Aerosmith songs I couldn't care less about (Draw the Line, Nobody's Fault). Then there's the non-Aerosmith songs in the game by the Clash, the Cult, Mott the Hoople, Lenny Kravitz, etc..., most of which I wasn't familiar with.

Then that's it. It's over. Six sets with five songs each then it's over after a "Boss Battle" with Joe Perry. Thirty songs, only a little more than half are Aerosmith songs, and the game is done. There are about 10 additional un-lockable songs, but most are Joe Perry songs I've never heard of, and the other are songs I don't really know. It begs the question... where are all the other songs that SHOULD have been put in the game, but were left out? Janie's Got a Gun? I Don't Want to Miss a Thing? My original thought was that these tracks might be available later for download... a smart move from the GH guys. But no. GH has made it clear that there will not be any downloads for this game.

Overall, this game was FAIR. Not poor, and not great. Just fair. For the most part I had fun and enjoyed playing most of the songs. I just wanted more. More options (drums, lyrics) and more songs. GH didn't entirely drop the ball on this one, but they better learn from this. GH:A was almost a monumental mistake, and another dud like this and RB might just wipe GH off the map... at least until GH:Wold Tour is released. But they'll probably screw that one up too.


B Town T said...

Warning: This comment is not meant to be bitchy. If it sounds bitchy, it is because T has now been smoke free for one week and one day.

Not only are you a HD snob, but now a Rockband snob as well. Nice. A couple things. Draw the Line is actually an old one by Aerosmith. I think it came out in '77. I have it on my Pandora's Box collection as well as the Greatest Hits album. Also, before C leaves a spot on the floor, the Cult song is "She Sells Sanctuary" and not "Fire Woman". RB needs to get some Cult though. "Sanctuary" was also featured in another game. Any guesses? Give up? Ok. It was in Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. One more thing. I read that RB2 is going to have an awesome list of songs that will come with the game.

B Town Chump said...

Okay... sorry 'bout mis-recognizing "Draw the Line" as a new song. It was just one that I remembered playing and thought it was one of their new ones. But the point remains that I don't give one shit about their new stuff, and wished they could have left them out of the game. I understand that Aerosmith is using GH as a marketing tool and that's why they've included new songs, but I just can't help comparing it to the classic band (insert any name here) that you pay to see that only plays new songs when all you want to hear is the hits. There's just too many Aerosmith hits that were left out of the game in favor of songs I've never heard before and crap I couldn't care less about.