Sometimes rock bands are better off staying in the past. All too often, legendary groups, well past their prime, try to join us in the present day, and the end result is ugly and disappointing. Guitar Hero Live feels kind of like that. I won’t go as far to say that it’s as ugly and disappointing as the last Aerosmith album, but nothing I got to play at E3 2015 convinced me that Guitar Hero Live is a reboot that we needed to have.
The most impressive thing about the Guitar Hero Live’s presence at E3 was its fantastic presentation while waiting in line to play it. Hype men got you pumped “backstage” by making pretend that you were the star member of a band getting ready to perform in front of a live crowd. When it was time “to go live” we burst through the curtains, fog clouding our entrance, to cheering fans (aka probably PR people) and got set up at our stations. This was more fun than the game itself.
The E3 2015 demo of Guitar Hero Live didn’t feel that much different than any of the other games with the exception of a new controller. The colored five button format is out in favor of a two parallel rows of three (black and white). I can’t play a real guitar, so I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a more authentic experience; unless that’s the case (and even so honestly), I’m not sure what purpose the button format change serves. I used to have no problem playing most songs on expert in earlier games but struggled on an easier difficulty with Guitar Hero Live.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having to learn how to use a new controller, change is fine. But if that’s Guitar Hero Live’s hook, its main new feature, then fans should be worried. Gameplay was exactly the same from yesteryear from what I saw, just now with the added annoyance of having to relearn where the buttons are. Assuming I had more time to grow comfortable with the new guitar, it would probably devolve into the same old thing I was doing years ago.
On the bright side, the presentation is noticeably enhanced through the use of real life video footage that plays throughout the song and during breaks. This footage is also supposed to change in real time depending on your performance. It’s a subtle and neat touch that certainly doesn’t hurt, and was enjoyable to watch as I played.
That’s about it. There’s a new controller, some new songs, and a nicer presentation. If you’re starving for some new Guitar Hero, and don’t mind relearning and buying a new controller (the old ones will not work), then I’m sure Guitar Hero Live will wind up adequately filling your needs. However, you might be able to save some cash by just digging your old equipment and game out of your closet, and playing that if you just want a walk down memory lane. Nothing we saw at E3 2015 was game-changing in the slightest.