Saturday, June 1, 2013

We Rank 'Em: To All the Guitar Heroes I've Loved Before

times are slow

Things are lean in the gaming world these days. There aren't any big titles coming out until Grand Theft Auto V in September, so I've decided to take this week to re-visit some old favorites. Although it's been a while since I played any musical games, as evidenced by my poor showing when I busted them all out for this post, I used to be totally and completely addicted to the things. I beat all the games listed on Expert. I also had Rock Band 1, 2, and Beatles, but they never grabbed me the way the Guitar Hero series did. While Rock Band beat Guitar Hero to the punch in the drum and mic arenas, it never did guitars as well as the original. This week I'm ranking the GH games I played. I hope those of you who usually read this blog and say, "Why doesn't he ever rank games I play?" are finally getting a review of a game you've played, either with younger family members or back when it was as popular at bars as karaoke. Hardcore gamers, don't think too badly of me. I know Guitar Hero is no Skyrim, but I'll admit (a bit embarrassingly) to enjoying them immensely for a period.

5. guitar hero II

This one was ruined from the outset for me. I played Guitar Hero III first, and this one just doesn't hold up. First and foremost, while the tracklist is acceptable and even shines in places, most of the songs are done by knock-offs. The Glenn Danzig is particularly bad, although I'm sure the Nirvana had Kurt Cobain rolling over in his grave. There was also the issue of calibration of the guitar. Unlike GH3 and all the subsequent releases, you had to calibrate using their little mini-game instead of being able to manually adjust for any video lag that has happened every time I've ever played the game. Let's just say this one didn't work so well. I don't mean to brag, but I've been playing stringed instruments since I was four. I think I know what happens when you pluck a string, so not only did it make the game harder to play, but it drove my "highly tuned" musical ears absolutely nuts. The fact that you often had to strum just off from the actual note is enough to drive any musician to tears. Luckily, they fixed this glitch in future Guitar Hero games. And they ponied up the dough for the actual songs, which really makes all the difference. 

4. guitar hero aerosmith

For fans of Aerosmith, this game was probably okay, I just don't happen to be a big fan of Aerosmith. Janie's Got a Gun is really good, but their brand of pure American rock really never was my thing. I went from pop and the Beatles straight into my metal phase, followed by an experimental electronic penchant I haven't really grown out of yet. However, some of the other songs were pretty enjoyable. Like anybody else who was alive in the 80s, I enjoyed when Run DMC busted out with Walk This Way. Stone Temple Pilots was fun to play. Always on the Run was one of the better songs from Lenny Kravitz' best album. My main complaint with this game isn't really that it was bad at all, just that it wasn't my cup of tea. That's really an issue of personal taste, not a gaming one, so I'll take the blame here. If you secretly (or openly) enjoy Aerosmith, you'll probably like this game. I know there are a lot of you out there. They wouldn't still be around if there weren't.

3. guitar hero: Metallica

By this time, Guitar Hero had branched out and started focusing on specific bands. Unlike Aerosmith, for whom I show a certain indifference, I was a Metallica fan right up to the black album (when they got old). I'd still like to see them live, but let's not pretend anything they've done since ...And Justice For All even belongs in the same room with Master of Puppets. It demeans us both. That said, playing the classics was tons of fun. One was fantastic, although I never gave the drums a try. I suspect I would hate that song by now if I hadn't stuck to guitars. The final scene was memorable as you play The Thing That Should Not Be in front of an angry Cthulu in his ice cave. This title took you through several classic Metallica concerts and the sets that went with them. It was enjoyable playing some of the classic tracks on the original sets. I'm not the metalhead I once was, but this was a nice trip down memory lane.

2. guitar hero III

They say you always remember your first. Guitar Hero III was the game I got first and easily the one I played the most. It has a great track list that introduced me to some new favorites and took me back to classics I love. Muse and the Killers fall into the previous category with Knights of Cydonia and When You Were Young. Paint it Black, Bulls on Parade, Black Sunshine, Raining Blood, Welcome to the Jungle, Sabotage, My Name is Jonas, Kool Thing, Cult of Personality, and Cherub Rock are in the latter. You got to have a guitar battle with Slash. Eventually, you even have to beat the devil at The Charlie Daniels Band's classic Devil Went Down to Georgia. I was tempted to put this game in the top spot, but it really isn't as complete a game as World Tour. I think it just had the advantage of being my entree into the Guitar Hero franchise as well as matching the track list to my personal taste more than any of the others. 

1. guitar hero World Tour

This was when Guitar Hero finally decided they couldn't get by on guitars alone with Rock Band out there providing the entire band experience. They were losing market share to their main competitor, so they came correct with this answer to the challenger. The track list was massive and impressive. Hot for Teacher, About a Girl, On the Road Again, Beat It, Livin' on a Prayer, Everlong, and No Sleep Till Brooklyn were particularly appreciated gems. I think this title was my favorite, however, because I played a lot online with my uncle on drums and cousin on bass, both of whom live in different cities. I don't get to see my cousin much any more, but we grew up together. The sentimental value makes this one my favorite, aside from the fact it was a very well-constructed game. They also went out of their way to provide plenty of downloadable content just like Rock Band. This game represented Guitar Hero stepping up to the plate. Rather than resting on their laurels, they adapted in order to better compete and the outcome was worth every penny.

I hope you've enjoyed this retrospecticus of several of the biggest music-based games of this generation. Next review: Monaco from Xbox Live Arcade!