Thursday, 22 May 2008

Yes, Yes, I'm Aware I Never Shut Up About Guitar Hero...

...But Activision just announced that they're taking the fight to MTV and Harmonix with Guitar Hero World Tour.
Activision Inc (ATVI.O) is adding drums, bass guitar, and microphone to its popular "Guitar Hero" video game, a move aimed at winning away fans of MTV's rival musical title "Rock Band."

"Guitar Hero World Tour" will include the ability for two groups of four people each to compete online, as well as let players compose and play their own music.

That's just super-duper, and I love that they've done that. Okay, so it's derivative, and they remain in the shadow of Harmonix and their incredible innovations, but it's the only logical move they could make. Of course, this means nothing unless the music choices are incredible.

The game will feature songs from bands such as Van Halen, The Eagles, Linkin Park and Sublime...


Actually, that is something that can change over time, though I really do hope the song packs come down in price. I resented having to spend literally billions of Microsoft Points (this is a lie) to buy three songs in the fourth Guitar Hero II pack when all I wanted was I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones (and OMG, I got 100% on it third time I played it on Medium setting, which makes it the first song I've got 100% on! Bless you, you three-chord-playing heroes). Still, there could well be some great finds on there. I've been enjoying playing the bonus tracks Mr. Fix-It by The Amazing Crowns, Soy Bomb by Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives, and Thunderhorse by Dethklok, though worryingly they were all on Guitar Hero II (i.e. the Harmonix game). Guitar Hero III's bonus tracks are nowhere near as interesting, but then I was less impressed with the track listing on that game already.

What I really want from Activision is to make robust peripherals that don't cost the earth, thus crushing MTV Games and forcing them to bring the price of the game down so I can get that too. This is the dream, anyway. I have more faith in Harmonix and their skills, and suspect I would prefer Rock Band (especially as you can buy single songs instead of packs full of boring songs you don't want), but what do I know? I can't afford Rock Band. Because it is horribly overpriced. And I'm still pissed about it.

Even if Santa ignores my pleas and the price war doesn't materialise, Guitar Hero World Tour does a bunch of stuff I really like the sound of. Not only does the drum kit look awesome, it does cool things too.

In addition to a newly designed more responsive guitar controller and microphone, Guitar Hero World Tour will deliver the most realistic drum experience ever in a video game with an authentic electronic drum kit. Featuring three drum pads, two raised cymbals and a bass kick pedal, the drum controller combines larger and quieter, velocity-sensitive drum heads with soft rubber construction to deliver authentic bounce back and is easy to set up, move, break down and store.

Even better than that, Activision have responded to one of the pissiest complaints about Guitar Hero and Rock Band; that playing the game is a pale imitation of genuine creation, that mimicking the playing of music is no substitute for making something yourself. I don't think Guitar Hero and Rock Band stop people from branching out and doing that on their own, and in fact think it would inspire people to try playing instruments themselves (I've said this before; please forgive me). Anyway, it's slightly more moot now.
The game's innovative new Music Studio lets players express their musical creativity by giving them access to a full compliment [sic] of tools to create digital music from scratch, utilizing all of the instruments, and then play their compositions in the game. Music creators will also be able to share their recordings with their friends online through GHTunes where other gamers can download their unique compositions and play them.

I'm outrageously excited about that, even though I expect any compositions would be pretty unadventurous just because of the limitations of the soft/hardware, but it still appeals to me.

It links in to something I've been planning on blogging about for a while now, which touches on Be Kind Rewind, Video Sniffing, Rocky III, and Lewis Hyde's The Gift (a frustrating book that killed my enthusiasm 20 pages in, but still applies). In time I will, I'm sure. Before that, we hope to have a look at the various season finales that have been piling up over the last couple of weeks, if we can ever get this goddamn laptop to work long enough to write anything substantial. Apologies for any future Blog Slowdowns.

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