Coming soon- Guitar Hero Smash Hits, Guitar Hero: Van Halen, Band Hero, DJ Hero and the bafflingly named Guitar Hero Five. For Gods sake man, if we’re going to split hairs it’s Guitar Hero Ten! (One, Two, Rocks The 80’s, Three, Aerosmith, World Tour, Metallica, Smash Hits, Van Halen and that’s if we’re not counting the DS releases and Band and DJ Hero).
This is, and I don’t think I’m alone in my opinion here, the sound of the barrel being well and truly scraped. This is the cash cow that’s being milked until blood trickles forth from its withered teats, this is Tony Hawk in a wheelchair, and the worst thing for me is that I frigging LOVE Guiter Hero!
I was there with the first instalment. I rode the wave with them, to superstardom. I hung on through the parting of ways and the war of plastic instruments. I love that it’s a household name. I also love Rock Band, and I think what Harmonix have done with the music store and their pervasive collection of tracks that expands with every game is the way it should have been from the beginning. But even though I could just about stomach the divided market between the two platforms, the saturation that Activision is aiming for makes for a really staggered series of different playlists. So far the biggest new feature that Guitar Hero Five has, to make it worthy of being considered a step forward in the series is for extra players jump in and out gameplay, which isn’t going to make a huge difference outside of large parties full of people who all want to play Guitar Hero.
It’s hard to place a finger on why this makes me so angry. Metallica is a refinement of the World Tour setup so it makes sense that the games will get better, but it’s too much, too soon, not enough variety or invention, hammering the license into the ground and most of all, entirely financially motivated. Now it’s Activision we’re talking about here, a group of people who use the word “Exploit” in a positive sense, but even in their terms “Annualizable” surely only means once or twice a year, not six!
Band Hero, sure, it’s for the kids and the announcement of Lego Rock Band has clearly got their attention, but couldn’t Guitar Hero Five have a new kid mode and some child-friendly tracks that also rock? DJ Hero is the only game that excites me, purely because of the challenge they face in bringing a new way of playing rhythm-action to gamers, but it still seems like only the first part of yet another exploitable annual franchise. Now if Neversoft really want to impress me and draw me back to the fold, may I suggest Guitar Hero: Led Zepelin, because talking those guys round would require effort, tactics and a wedge of cash big enough to make the Beatles blush.