Sunday, October 26, 2008

Guitar Hero IV: Underwhelming

Picked up GH:WT this afternoon and have been playing it on-and-off throughout the day. The gameplay is certainly tighter than GH3 (which we saw in GH:A) and the note charts seem better on the songs I have played so far. We'll see how it plays on faster/more difficult songs...GH3 really failed on stuff like Raining Blood, One and TtFatF. GH:WT gives you a wider window to hit notes than Rock Band does...not necessarily sure it's a good thing but it makes soloing and such easier.

The custom character creater is pretty nice, much more flexible and in-depth than what's in the RB games...you can really sculpt the characterss face plus there seems to be some interesting outfits...like being able to make a full-on black metal character. I enjoy the guitar editor as well...a particularly nice feature in the absence of a manufacturer license (shame on you Gibson!)

The setlist is particularly odd. There's definitely some cool songs...but there's some very odd picks that must've come from Activision corporate (Band on the Run, Beat It, La Bamba)? Seems a little bit against the spirit of the rock games...I'm not saying they're bad tunes, but do they FIT?

The career modes don't seem to be particularly special from what I've seen so far...they're still lagging far behind Rock Band in this regard. It's slightly more spiced up than the simple linear progression of old games but some more thought needs to go into it.

The song creation tools are absolutely horrendous. They're bad enough that I actually find it OFFENSIVE. I attempted to put one of the simpler songs I've written into the game and after about an hour of messing around I realized it would never come out right. The guitar sounds the game produces are horrible...you have a wide variety of tones to play but none of them sound good. Your rhythm guitar track is locked into playing basically power chords in the lowest octave on your guitar. That's right. You have one E, for example, and that's it. In the step-editor, you can seemingly only play single notes with the lead guitar track, although spread over two octaves. The tutorial seemed to indicate that you could play powerchords with the lead guitar track (perhaps I misunderstood something) but this didn't seem possible in the step-editor. If you're playing single notes, you're kind of fucked when attempting to use a diatonic scale...you get six tones, one assigned to each button and then the root being played with an "open" strum (which is a nice feature). If you want to throw in the 7th from whatever scale you're playing, you'll need to take the time to edit the scale for that particular note...you don't run into this problem for chords since you have more than enough button combinations to cover all the tones in a scale. The rhythm guitar has an odd feature known as "clean chords"...I'm not sure what these are supposed to be...they're played with 3 buttons so I supposed they're suppose to be a full on major/minor chord but the game doesn't really expand on them. The song editor also doesn't allow any sort of time/tempo changes.

With the way it's set up, you'd be unable to do any sort of sophisticated song writing...no interesting guitar parts like you'd get in Iron Maiden, Metallica, Priest, etc...It's just a very poorly thought and implemented feature. Approaching this tool with any sort of musical knowledge will be a detriment to using the tool. It seems the way to use this is in the live recording mode which will produce "music" by thrashing away on the buttons. I actually fear this game is going to dumb down a generation of potential musicians. I also don't look forward to some egotistical fuck that think's he's a composer now because he has the highest rated song on GHTunes.

Seriously, Neversoft, you guys need to focus. You're so far behind Harmonix right now and adding over-ambitious and half-implemented features isn't going to help you any. If you're going to put a fucking song editor in the game, at least give some truly advanced options so people who actually record music in real life can make some use of it. Also, don't base everything around the goddamn controller. Give me guitar tab, musical notation, SOMETHING....then automatically build a note chart off of that. Don't have me construct a song around a note chart. That's just ass backwards.

At this point, I really wish I hadn't dropped $100 on the game/guitar. It was certainly cool to see Ozzy and Zakk out on the stage when I played Mr. Crowley the first time, but man, those guys and Nuge, Jimi, Corgan and Sting don't make the game worth the price of admission.
(and, seriously, you've already had Tom Morello, Slash, Bret Mchales and all the A*smith guys in the game..you couldn't have included them in this one?)

2 comments:

kdevine said...

So, your main issue with the game was: the Music Editor sucked? I wasn't planning on using it, but if it that much of a focus of the game, perhaps I will wait for the price to drop...

My main concern was whether the drum kit was any better than Rock Band... But, it doesn't appear you bought the drum kit. I'll have to find another review.

Personally, if Harmonix added the character customization of GH:WT to RB2, I'd be happy (a few songs I'd like as well, but with 320 I think I'll live).

thez0rk said...

Well, the game has just underwhelmed me overall. The character creator and the new animations are the best part of the game but I still feel like it pales in comparison to Rock Band.

I think somebody can enjoy the game without using the Music Editor...it just infuriated me so much because it's so poorly done. The editor was a major selling point of the game and a real musician wouldn't be able to make much use of it.

I don't have the GH drum kit and I've read on a couple blogs that it's not so good.