Archive for the Guitar Hero Category

Review: “Guitar Hero Van Halen” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero, Van Halen with tags on October 18, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon GHVHNeversoft and Activision did something very cool in these tough economic times and offered Guitar Hero Van Halen free to those that purchased Guitar Hero 5 prior to Oct. 1, 2009. As a free game, GHVH is another excellent addition to the franchise, but is it worth paying for?

Better tunes, better calibration: The hard rocking set list of 44 songs clearly outshine GH5’s tracks and that is the single make-or-break factor of all rhythm games. Additionally, the World Tour style instrument calibration is back instead of the awful experimental settings offered in GH5.

Lookin’ good: The avatars stage antics of Diamond David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, and Alex Van Halen came out great. As you rock out on classics like “Beautiful Girls” and “Feel Your Love Tonight,” the game offers current day depictions as well as the 80’s style (see game trailer below).

Only buy if half-price: However, GHVH has several shortcomings that would have kept me from purchasing the game at full market value. You can tell that more effort and care was put into GH:Metallica than this game in terms of stage setups and overall band culture, as only half of VH’s career is accounted for. Therefore, I would only buy this if it is $29.99 or less.

You can’t do that: Furthermore, Van Halen had the audacity to leave Michael Anthony out of the game and then ignores the Sammy Hagar years all together (lack of Gary Cherone not a big deal). Instead of Anthony on bass, we are stuck with Eddie Van Halen’s chubby teen son Wolfgang, who has yet to record a classic album. It is very awkward to see Wolfgang in the band when the setting is the early 80’s. But I did hear somewhere that Wolfgang selected most of the non-VH tracks.

Crowd overkill: One thing that this game does different is the crowd participates and sings along with the hooks and choruses. At first, the increased audience participation took me by surprise and threw me slightly off my drum rocker. It turns out to be overkill because every track from “Panama” to “The Best of Me” by the Foo Fighters contains this feature.

3.5 StarsThis game is worth it for early Van Halen die-hards at full market price of $49.99, worth it for fans of the franchise if at half price, and worth it for everybody if free. Unfortunately the USA has limits on the practice of price discrimination -Meds

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Review: “The Beatles: Rock Band” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero, Rock Band with tags on September 20, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon Beatles RBMove over Guitar Hero: Metallica, the best rhythm game to feature a single artist has just invaded the gaming market. The Beatles: Rock Band offers the most pleasurable rock and roll gaming experience that you will come across this holiday season.

Featuring 45 original and remastered studio tracks from each era of the band’s career, with settings such as the Ed Sullivan Theater, Shea Stadium (my personal favorite), the Budokan, and Abbey Road Studios, the spirit is very much alive as the portrayal of The Beatles culture is absolutely fab.

But, Mommy is making me choose; Guitar Hero 5 or The Beatles: Rock Band?: If you are a casual player and plan to buy only one rhythm game this year, then The Beatles: Rock Band is the way to go. For what it is, this game is flawless. However, if you are a serious instrument-based gamer, you will spend more time playing Guitar Hero 5 due to the higher number of challenging songs for the guitar and drums in particular, and also due to the wider variety of musical content.

Rectangles vs. Circles, and the real challenge: I find the circular notes of the Guitar Hero games easier to read than the rectangular or squared notes of the Rock Band series, but that is a personal preference of mine. There are times during game play when it was difficult to see the scrolling notes and beats on the RB engine. However, the vocal highway is superior to Guitar Hero’s vocal paths.

The most challenging element of The Beatles:Rock Band is the singing, especially on the Paul McCartney songs with falsetto parts. The John Lennon songs fall somewhere in the middle while the George Harrison and Ringo Starr tunes are the least straining. There are two options for the vocals; you can sing the lead solo parts or the lead solo parts with all of the harmonies. The latter is for the real sadists. My father, a true Beatles aficionado, performed for three hours on expert mode last night. We hope his voice will be back by the end of the week.

I own Guitar Hero: World Tour, will those drums allow me to live out my Ringo fantasies: Yes, the Guitar Hero drum kit is perfectly compatible with The Beatles: Rock Band for the Wii. Thank the rock gods for this as the standard Rock Band drums are highly unauthentic compared to Guitar Hero which includes the cymbal pads without buying all sorts of add-ons.

4.5 StarsThe Guitar Hero microphone and guitars also work like a charm. Check out the full compatibility chart from Rock Band here. I’d also like to add that the  manual instrument calibration on The Beatles: Rock Band is far better than Guitar Hero 5 which you really have to screw around with to get perfect.

This game scores major points for the Rock Band franchise but the war ain’t over yet. The official release of Guitar Hero: Van Halen is on the horizon -Meds

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Review: “Guitar Hero 5” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero on September 2, 2009 by gearsofrock

51uJQOV2TjL._AA280_Neversoft’s Guitar Hero 5, the fourth and latest Guitar Hero game for the Nintendo Wii in the last year, contains several improvements over prior releases which unfortunately cancel out when compared to its glitches and frustrations imposed on the player.

What are the strengths of Guitar Hero 5? First of all, this installment loads up faster and quicker than any of the previous games. For example, Guitar Hero Metallica took a few extra clicks to get through the acknowledgment screens, wasting valuable playing time.

The menu screen is more user friendly and cuts right to the chase of rocking out clubs and stadiums. Career mode is now based solely on the amount of stars earned for performances rather than cash and the “GH Studio” feels more accurate than ever when you want to work on your songs. There is also a new option called “Roadie Battle” which requires a Nintendo DS. During a Guitar Face-Off, friends can fix your equipment and annoy the opposition from the DS.

Seriously dude, that is so weak: If you are an avid user of the old games you might find the game play to be very awkward, especially in the beginning. The timing is very different causing you to earn say 3 stars instead of 5. At first you may try to adjust the calibration, thinking that the problem is your HDTV. However, the calibration mode is different as well and is unreliable to automatically fix the lags and timing problem.  After manually adjusting the video and audio lags for 30 minutes, I finally found a somewhat acceptable setting, but still far from perfect.

Wii users now have the option of playing songs that they downloaded from Guitar Hero World Tour, but you have to download a free add-on from the Wii Music Store (at the present time the Wii Music Store does not work with this game…ugh).

On to the set list: Perhaps the greatest frustration and weakness of Guitar Hero 5 is the song selection. One would think that the Guitar Hero title would define the types of guitar players and bands chosen. In the past, GH games contain approximately one song by a band that no one cares about for every ten classic songs by an established act of rock music. On GH5 that ratio favors the unestablished. For example, you might have to play through Scars on Broadway, The Screaming Trees, Arctic Monkeys, Darker My Love, and Kaiser Chiefs just to get to a Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, or Queen track.

Characters featured in the game include guitar legend Carlos Santana, man in black Johnny Cash, killer of rock music Kurt Cobain, Shirley Manson of one hit wonder (“Stupid Girl” was not that big) Garbage, and Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy. World Tour clearly offered a stronger cast with Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Travis Barker, and Sting and GH Metallica gave us rock giants Lemmy and King Diamond.

3 StarsIs this game worth $59.99? Due to the series of frustrations, I would recommend this game only to serious fans of the GH franchise and to people that purchase the game before October 1, 2009 since you can get Guitar Hero Van Halen for free. I would recommend GH Metallica, Smash Hits, and World Tour over Guitar Hero 5 for the smoother game play and stronger track selection for fans of rock music -Meds

Note: My Guitar Hero instrument of preference is the drums on expert mode which was used as my main reference point throughout the test. This game was also tested on a Sony Bravia LCD HDTV. Also, a couple of weird things happened during my first run with the game. The drum pads reversed on me without changing to lefty mode and Shirley Manson’s name blocked the hit line during the entire song. A restart of the game remedied these issues.

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Review: “Guitar Hero Smash Hits” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero with tags on July 10, 2009 by gearsofrock

Amazon GH SmashSeveral months ago, one of my 9th grade history students, knowing that I spend far too much time playing games from the Guitar Hero franchise (even though I am a pretty sick real guitarist) asked me if I was going to buy Guitar Hero Smash Hits this summer. I shook my head and replied, “Nah, not feeling it.” My wife asked the same question as my student a few weeks later. “Nah, it’s a waste,” I told her. So what do I do on the day of the game’s release on June 16? I zip over to Target and purchase a copy of the game, bringing my GH expenditures to over $300.00 since December. I guess you can call me an addict at this point, a sad and pathetic case.

Why should I purchase Guitar Hero Smash Hits if I already own Guitar Hero 1, Guitar Hero 2, Guitar 3, Rocks The 80s, and Guitar Hero Aerosmith? You should not buy this game if you own the originals and only enjoy playing the guitar and bass parts. If you are obsessed with the drum kit (like myself), then it is certainly worth owning because some of the best tunes from the pre-World Tour releases are in the game. If you are one of the ten people in the world that plays these games for the vocals, then you too should get them game.  Additionally, all songs are the original artist recording, which was a rarity in the early days of the franchise.

Other than the song list, is Smash Hits any different from World Tour and Metallica? Smash Hits plays the same as the previous two console releases. This game has a new story line, which is similar to the old story lines, and the menu screen contains a new vibrant color scheme…oooooh, ahhhh.

Were the best songs and smashiest of hits really included in the game? For the most part, the game makers included the best tracks from the early games’ set lists, but several flaws must be noted. From Guitar Hero: The Exies and The Donnas are included instead of Black Sabbath (“Iron Man”) and Megadeth (“Symphony of Destruction”), not to mention Motorhead and Cream. From Guitar Hero II: Reverend Horton Heat and Avenged Sevenfold instead of, again, Black Sabbath (“War Pigs”) and Megadeth (“Hangar 18”). From Guitar Hero III: Priestess and AFI over Black Sabbath (“Paranoid,” see a pattern?)  and Pearl Jam (“Even Flow”). The Encore Rocks the 80’s track selection is pretty good and there is only one Aerosmith song (“Back in the Saddle”) included in the set which is perfectly fine with me.

3 StarsAll in all, Smash Hits contains a decent selection of the greatest hits, but only worth the money if you must have the full band feature and online capabilities (by the way, on the Wii it is virtually impossible to find anyone willing to battle on expert drums). In the meantime, World Tour and Metallica should be enough to hold you over until the release of Guitar Hero 5 on Sept. 1, 2009. -Meds

Set List:

Guitar Hero
Blue Öyster Cult – “Godzilla”
Boston – “More Than A Feeling”
Deep Purple – “Smoke On The Water”
Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
Helmet – “Unsung (Live)”
Incubus – “Stellar”
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “I Love Rock N’ Roll”
Ozzy Osbourne – “Bark At The Moon”
Pantera – “Cowboys From Hell (Live)”
Queen – “Killer Queen”
Queens Of The Stone Age – “No One Knows”
The Donnas – “Take It Off”
The Exies – “Hey You”
White Zombie – “Thunder Kiss ’65”
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
AFI – “Miss Murder”
DragonForce – “Through The Fire And Flames”
Heart – “Barracuda”
Kiss – “Rock And Roll All Nite”
Living Colour – “Cult Of Personality”
Pat Benatar – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”
Priestess – “Lay Down”
Slayer – “Raining Blood”
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
Aerosmith – “Back In The Saddle
Guitar Hero II
Alice In Chains – “Them Bones”
Avenged Sevenfold – “Beast And The Harlot”
Danzig – “Mother”
Foo Fighters – “Monkey Wrench”
Iron Maiden – “The Trooper”
Jane’s Addiction – “Stop!”
Kansas – “Carry On Wayward Son”
Lamb Of God – “Laid To Rest”
Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Free Bird”
Mötley Crüe- “Shout At The Devil”
Nirvana – “Heart-Shaped Box”
Rage Against The Machine – “Killing In The Name”
Reverend Horton Heat – “Psychobilly Freakout”
Rush – “YYZ”
Stone Temple Pilots – “Trippin’ On A Hole”
The Police – “Message In A Bottle”
The Sword – “Freya”
Warrant – “Cherry Pie”
Wolfmother – “Woman”
Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s
Anthrax – “Caught In A Mosh”
Extreme – “Play With Me”
Judas Priest – “Electric Eye”
Poison – “Nothin’ But A Good Time”
Ratt – “Round and Round”
Twisted Sister – “I Wanna Rock”

GOR Recommendation: Guitar Hero Metallica

Review: “Guitar Hero Metallica” [Nintendo Wii 2009]

Posted in Guitar Hero, Metallica with tags on March 29, 2009 by gearsofrock

After waiting in line at Game Stop, with 16 other metal geeks, for the stroke of midnight, Guitar Hero Metallica for the Nintendo Wii was finally in my hands. Following reckless speeding, hours of late night gaming, bleeding, sweating, and joyous tearing, it became clear that this is the best of the franchise to date.

Why is GH Metallica better than World Tour? One area of improvement can be seen in “career” mode where you can play one song at a time instead of being forced into five songs per gig, which is time consuming if you only have, say, 10 minutes to play. The game screen also contains a new star ranking meter that displays how many stars you have earned while playing the song, rather than waiting for the song to be completed. “Quickplay” mode is fairly identical in format except the song selection is far superior to World Tour—there is not a bad song on the song list—no boring and wasteful bands such as Interpol, Coldplay, and Oasis. Instead the loser bands have been replaced by Slayer, Machine Head, and Corrosion of Conformity to name a few. You can also play as Lemmy of Motörhead and King Diamond!

Double-bass drum option: In “expert+” mode, you can now perform the faster thrash tracks on the drums, the way they are meant to be played. Remember how awkward performing “Pull Me Under” was in World Tour? The second bass drum pedal (sold separately) remedies this issue, however it does take some time to get used to this option for us non-drummers. Read how to set them up here.

Portrayal of the Metallica culture: Career mode begins with Metallica walking to the arena stage with “Ecstasy of Gold” pumping in the background, adding to the anticipation of the band’s performance. You then perform two songs as Metallica before the story begins. Basically, you have to prove yourself a worthy opening act for Metallica, while the devil tries to strike a deal with the Hall-of-Fame legends. You play tunes from Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Thin Lizzy as you earn stars to achieve the Metallica level. The detail of the band is another highlight of the game. From the band’s live mannerisms, stage setup, classic tours, and the authenticity of the instruments (such as the hysterical ping sound on Ulrich’s snare drum during “Frantic”), to the head banging signature “scary guy” on the load screen, the game-makers did it the right way!

The Flaw: There was a lot of Internet talk about the band’s decision to not include legendary bassist Cliff Burton and former bassist Jason Newstead in the game. It is still disappointing, but I still have confidence that they will one day create the characters for download, but I am a wishful thinker.

Guitar Hero Metallica is the best of the GH franchise because of the improvements in game-play, double bass drum playability, and the song list, however, the lack of Burton and Newstead prevent the game from achieving total perfection. A

Buy Guitar Hero Metallica here

Track your stats on the Guitar Hero Community and challenge other gamers like me. C’mon bring it!

“Guitar Hero Metallica” Track List Unveiled

Posted in Guitar Hero, Metallica with tags on January 28, 2009 by gearsofrock
amazon-ghmet

Here are the tracks slated for Guitar Hero Metallica, hitting the streets on March 29, 2009 for XBox360 and PS3 (Nintendo Wii and PS2 release date is May 31 according to amazon.com).

The game will feature an option for double bass drum action on expert+ mode. Note that the original Bob Seger, Diamond Head, Queen, and Lynyrd Skynyrd versions are incorporated into the game rather than Metallica’s covers. It is also great to see Slayer’s “War Ensemble” and C.O.C.’s “Albatross” on the list.

While the above are all excellent ideas, it is important to note that leaving Jason Newstead and Cliff Burton out of the game is a very poor idea. Maybe next time.

METALLICA
OTHER BANDS
All Nightmare Long
Alice In Chains – No Excuses
Battery
Bob Seger – Turn the Page
Creeping Death
Corrosion of Conformity – Albatross
Disposable Heroes
Diamond Head – Am I Evil?
Dyers Eve
Foo Fighters – Stacked Actors
Enter Sandman
Judas Priest – Hell Bent For Leather
Fade To Black
Kyuss – Demon Cleaner
Fight Fire With Fire
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Machine Head – Beautiful Mourning
Frantic
Mastodon – Blood & Thunder
Fuel
Mercyful Fate – Evil
Hit The Lights
Michael Schenker Group – Armed and Ready
King Nothing
Motorhead – Ace of Spades
Master of Puppets
Queen – Stone Cold Crazy
Mercyful Fate (Medley)
Samhain – Mother of Mercy
No Leaf Clover
Slayer – War Ensemble
Nothing Else Matters
Social Distortion – Mommy’s Little Monster
One
Suicidal Tendencies – War Inside My Head
Orion
System of a Down – Toxicity
Sad But True
The Sword – Black River
Seek And Destroy
Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back in Town
The Memory Remains
The Shortest Straw
The Thing That Should Not Be
The Unforgiven
*Track list subject to change*
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Wherever I May Roam
Whiplash
Source: metallica.com

“Guitar Hero Metallica” Release Dates

Posted in Guitar Hero with tags , on January 17, 2009 by gearsofrock

This week 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Metallica announced the North America street date for the much anticipated Guitar Hero Metallica video game.

Xbox 360 and PS3 will be released on March 29, 2009 [Pre-order here]

Nintendo Wii and PS2 release dates are not official yet but most likely will happen in May.