I bought this today at lunch, and just went through the first 15 songs on expert. 5-starred 13 of them, and 4 starred the other two. And I’m not bragging about that, because I still haven’t got that kind of record on the first 15 songs on GH II, and I’ve had that since the day it came out. This game is just way too easy.
But what’s worse, is that so far the songs suck. There’s only one out of the first 15 that I even want to ever play again (“Hold on Loosely” by .38 Special - the only song with a decent guitar part so far - and I don’t even like the song that much).
When Harmonix bowed out of the Guitar Hero franchise, I was worried. One of the great things about Guitar Hero has always been that it just dripped with authenticity. From the song selection to the cute little bumper phrases between songs, Guitar Hero always seemed to me to be created by people who really knew Rock, and who had taste and talent.
This game strikes me as being completely fake. Like some suit found someone under 50 and said, “You must know what the kids like - go make a game featuring that Rock and Roll stuff.”
First, the song selection. Anyone who was playing guitar and listening to Rock in the 80’s would never have picked these songs, unless he had no taste at all. I’m sorry, but bands like Quiet Riot, Scorpions, Scandal and Twisted Sister were a joke in the 80’s. They were the ‘rock bands’ real rock fans loved to laugh and sneer at. Whoever thinks these bands represent the quintessential 80’s guitar sound is an idiot. And there was a good reason they were sneeered at. Actually playing the guitar parts to these songs just highlights how lame they really were. Not just easy, but with no real sense of composition. The solos suck. There are discordant notes. Just bad music, generally.
Second, half the songs on here aren’t even guitar songs. The Go-Go’s? A Flock of Seagulls? Asia? Some of these songs are okay as pop songs, but they’re not the first or even the 1000th songs I would have picked for a Guitar game. These songs belong in a Karaoke game or maybe ‘Synthesizer Hero’.
Third, there are songs on here I have never bleemin’ heard of, and I listened to a lot of music in the 80’s. “Because, It’s Midnite” by Limozeen? Never heard of the song, never heard of the band. And it’s an encore, yet.
It’s not like there isn’t good 80’s guitar music to choose from. This was the decade that brought us ‘1984’ by Van Halen, “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns N’ Roses, and most of Stevie Ray’s hits like “Cold Shot” and “Pride and Joy”, Aerosmith’s biggest albums, U2’s biggest albums, ZZ Top’s biggest albums, “Start me Up” by the Rolling Stones, Dire Straits biggest hits, etc. Not one of these bands makes an appearance. Instead we get “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Go’s and “The Warrior” by Scandal.
To be fair, the last 15 songs look to be somewhat better, at least on paper. But after having grumbled about paying $60 for 30 songs, I’m even more angry that the best I can hope for now is 15 that are worth playing. GHII had closer to 70 songs, and they were better. For the same price.
The bumper phrases that I’ve seen so far sound like nothing I’ve ever heard a rock musician say. In GH, we had the ‘Free Bird’ in-joke, funny stuff about turning it up to 11, etc. In this one, there’s something about the last set making you sticky and gnarly, and you should pour a soft drink on your drummer. There’s another that goes something like, " They want us to play an encore? Well, DUH!" WTF?
Maybe what it is is that this game is a cash grab. Maybe the songs suck because they picked them up for fire-sale prices out of a licensing remainder bin or something. But I think it might be that all the rock cred and taste left when Harmonix split. Looking at GHIII, I see it has ‘Boss Battles’ and ‘Battle Mode’ where you have power-ups and can make your opponent do things like have to use his whammy bar to keep going. What in hell that has to do with the core game experience of simulating being a rock musician is beyond me. Again, it sounds like the suits said, “All you can do is play music? Where is the fun in that? Give the kids some of those power-up things! And I heard these ‘Boss Battles’ are all the rage. Throw some of those in, too.”
My money is on Rock Band eating the lunch of the Guitar Hero franchise.
There. I’m done venting.