Developer: FreeStyle Games |
Publisher: Activision
Players: 1+ Player Game |
Genre: Music

Release Date: 10/20/15

Guitar Hero is making a comeback this year with Guitar Hero Live from Developer FreeStyle Games. I find it a bit strange that the same year Rock Band is making a comeback, so is Guitar Hero. Did these companies get together and plan out when Rhythm based music games would make a comeback? I really doubt that is how it happened but it sure feels that way.

The first new addition to Guitar Hero Live is the controller. Gone are the days of trying to hit the far button with your pinky. Instead you will find a Guitar Controller that looks more realistic. No more colored buttons to make it look like a Fisher Price toy. The guitar looks amazing but some genius member of the media decided they would hog up the guitar for the whole appointment and not let me get my hands on it. They literally had it hanging around their neck while writing. Classy.  It looks nice though.

The first major mode in Guitar Hero Live is the Live mode. This is where they get their title. Live is a First Person mode that uses Full Motion Video, or FMV, to immerse the player in the game. As you play, the crowd and band will react to how you are playing. If you begin to miss a lot of notes, your band members will become aggravated and the crowd will begin to boo, give you the thumbs down, and act very uninterested all because of you. The opposite happens if you do well. While this does seems to immerse you into the gameplay, I can see this mode getting a bit old after a while.

Guitar Hero TV or GHTV is where I see the bulk of players spending their time. This is the always on, 24/7 music service that plays a variety of music based on genres and themes on several different channels. In our demo, there were only a few channels shown: Rock, New Music, and a Premium Channel known as GHTV Premium. In the free channels, random music will play throughout the day. As you play songs, which you can jump in and out of at any point during the track, you earn Plays. If you want to play a specific song whenever you want, you have a few options. You can use a Play to play it once, pay real money to unlock it once or for a period of time–like 24 hours–or you can buy the song. Unfortunately, this track is only available while online. It will not download to your console. I find this to be an unecessary form of DRM.

GHTV Premium is a limited channel that is only available for a certain amount of time. To unlock it, you have to earn a specific score on certain songs. You can unlock these as they randomly play in the free channels or you can purchase access to unlock all the requirements with real money. Once inside GHTV Premium, which has a nifty intro to make it feel important, you can select the difficulty level you want to play. The higher the difficulty, the more EXP you will earn and compete against players of similar skill level.

GHTV Premium, for what I was shown, was a video of a band playing live. For all the other non-premium channels we were shown, it was a music video. I didn’t get an answer as to what type of content would be shown. It seems it will vary just a bit. There is also no word yet on how many channels there will be or what the rate for earning Plays is. 

With the EXP you earn, players will gain access to Guitar Upgrades. Freestyle Games made it clear that there will be no way to purchase in-game upgrades. You will be forced to earn them. 

Though I have some concern with the DRM and the Paywall in GHTV, Guitar Hero Live looks to be a really fun game. Guitar Hero Live releases on October 20, 2015, for a MSRP of $99.99. Each copy of the game will come with GHTV for free. FreeStyle Games is really stressing this as their platform for music ongoing.

By Kaleb Rutherford – 06/24/15

Screenshots for Guitar Hero Live First Look