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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Guiter Hero IV: Rock Band Knockoff

This is stupid:
Guitar Hero IV will follow closely in the footsteps of Rock Band, offering new instruments including a bass, microphone, and six-piece drumset that includes two cymbals. It is unknown whether or not the Guitar Hero IV instruments and Rock Band instruments will be cross-compatible.
The only thing Guitar Hero had going for it, and Activision just has to wreck it.

Rock Band is a four-piece music game. Guitar Hero is a one-piece music game (two, if you count the bass). In order for Guitar Hero to avoid the inevitable comparisons to Rock Band, it has to differentiate itself - it must seem like a different sort of game to people, otherwise feature-matrices will be lined up, and Guitar Hero will seem lacking. I felt like Guitar Hero 3 tried to do this - maybe they didn't pull it off perfectly, but it was Neversoft's first Guitar Hero, so I cut them slack. They had three big things that Rock Band did not have - guitar battles, licensed characters, and guitar songs. The guitar battles and licensed characters didn't overly concern me, but it seemed like having guitar songs was a major point of differentiation between Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

Rock Band, being a four-piece game, has to have four-piece songs. Stuff like "Orange Crush" or "Don't Fear the Reaper" is a perfect fit for it. You cannot put "Cliffs of Dover" or "YYZ" in Rock Band, because there are no vocals. You also cannot put stuff like "Through the Fire and Flames" and "Laid to Rest" on Rock Band, because the single bass pedal on the drum kit will not support death-metal style drumming. Also, Guitar Hero 3 seemed to take pains to make the expert guitar parts unnecessarily hard - for example "The Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden. I doubt all those triplets were entirely necessary.

So it seemed Guitar Hero was differentiating by focusing on crazy-ass guitar playing, and leaving the "other instruments" to Rock Band. But now, they're stripping that point of differentiation, and making it basically the same game as Rock Band - and that makes me sad. I am not as good at vocals or drums as I am at guitars, and I liked the impossibly difficult guitar songs. Rock Band's songs seemed much more generic and pop-ish by comparison.

However, the song creator and character customization in the aforementioned article sound really freakin' cool, so it shouldn't be a total loss. Sounds like I'll buy it.

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