Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero

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DEVELOPER: Harmonix   |   PUBLISHER: Red Octane   |   RELEASE: 11/07/2005

Have you ever dreamed of being a rock star? Sure who hasn’t, but do you find yourself playing air guitar alongside your favorite bands? With the recent trend of dance and rhythm games sweeping the nation it was only a matter of time before someone finally realized that US gamers were dying to live out our rock-n-roll fantasies with some air guitar taken to a whole new level. Introducing Guitar Hero, the latest rhythm game from the creators of Amplitude and the Karaoke Revolution series; now all of those armchair metal heads can finally prove if they have what it takes to rock you like a hurricane. Find out why Harmonix latest entry is the most addictive yet!

First let’s talk about the best part of Guitar Hero, the guitar. Yes bundled with this amazing game is a replica SG style guitar peripheral that enhances the game play ten fold. Imagine if you will a small version of the Gibson SG or even a child’s play guitar and you have the basic idea. There are five fret keys, one pick switch, and even a whammy bar for all those hair metal moments. The package also comes with an adjustable strap and some cheesy stickers for customizing your axe, which is a nice touch. All of this comes as one complete package for just shy of 70 bucks, and honestly it’s worth every penny.

The peripheral actually mocks several aspects of playing a real guitar such as pull-offs and up and down strumming. Taking air guitar to a whole new level all of these additions really add to the feeling of the game. Being able to move around and perform these moves and have the guitar actually recognize them simply adds layers to this game’s depth. Not having these features would have seriously crippled the game’s overall appeal.

The premise is very simple, for those that played amplitude the layout will be very familiar. You have a bar that scrolls up revealing different notes that you must hit on the guitar, miss one and the sounds of plucked strings will haunt you. On easy mode you only have to use the first three frets, which at first seems very simple, but try playing some of the later songs and you will really understand the complexities of playing guitar. That is truly the best part of Hero, it never overwhelms you and the difficulty progression is flawless.

For each difficulty you bump up you will add a new button into the mix. Once you reach hard prepare to be working your fingers to the bone as some of these songs on expert difficulty could give the original artist a run for his money. Speaking of artists this game is chock full of some truly great guitar tunes. Whether you enjoy jamming out to the subtle sounds of White Zombie, or require the fine offerings of Boston this game this game has a diverse soundtrack that will certainly appease all lovers of music.

There are a total of 47 tracks in the game including even some original Indie songs just for the game. All of the headlining artist songs are actually covers; Harmonix has done a fantastic job of re-creating all of these tunes right down to Dave Mustaine’s nasaly melodies on Symphony of Destruction. While most of them will be hard to decipher real from fake, some instances are certainly recognizable right off the bat.

The game is very similar to Karaoke Revolution in the sense that you start out at the bottom of the barrel, playing washed-up clubs and small gigs as you make your way to the top. After each song you are graded and even given a review by the local paper. The game grades you based on timing, holding the longer notes, and of course combos. You can also max out what is called the Star Meter. Once this is full you can tilt your guitar vertical and double your bonus points, take that Van Halen.

Certainly the most addictive part of this game is the multi-player. Having two controllers may be expensive, but it’s almost worth it in the long run. In multi-player each person can play a certain part of a song as well as going back and forth with the other player for the main riff. This makes for some interesting matches, especially when both players are very skilled at the game. Not since Karaoke Revolution have so many gamers felt like rock stars in the comfort of their very own home.

So the final question of course is what can possibly be wrong with the title? Well for starters you don’t have the ability to practice specific parts of the song. This can hinder learning some of the later songs, especially on harder difficulties. Of course online multi-player online would be appreciated, but this game almost screams to be played in the company of your rival. All in all Guitar Hero is an immaculate piece of software (and hardware) that should at least be experienced by everyone, especially people who love playing guitar.

Ken McKown

Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.

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