Guitar Hero III Sequel Feature - 6/02/08

Guitar Hero III got a 9.2 in our review earlier this year, stating that although the harder difficulty levels were more suitable for the hardcore gamer, the game was a blast all the way through. So how can a title that received such a stellar score be improved?

First things first, Neversoft need to drop the way they have approached the series. The first two games in the franchise were developed by Harmonix, the brains behind Rock band, and as most of their staff were musicians as well as video game developers, they decided to go down the purist route. This route being one where each note chart, to be seen in-game, comes as close to playing the real thing as humanely possible. Neversoft (NS) on the other hand decided to follow the path known as the ‘Devil May Cry’ route. Imagine you’re walking down a road. The road is bumpy, and lob-sided. To the left you see a myriad of village houses with nice people offering each other trays of biscuits. On the right you see a pitch black forest. This sums up the difficulty curve in both of these games. Almost non-existent. The career is divided into eight tiers, and the difficulty is supposed to ramp up as you unlock more tiers. It can be said that it is substantially harder as you progress, but, like the final section, you’ll have the odd rock hard song within a pool of easy ones and vice-versa. That isn’t the only cruel addition, either. If you watch a side-by-side video of Rock Band and Guitar Hero’s note chart for the same song it is instantly recognisable that GH3 has more notes. Take Reptilia for example. There are a few instances in the song where GH requires you to do a two-chord, like red and yellow, twice, followed by a quick red, and another two chord of red and yellow. Rock Band completely misses out this ‘quick red’ as it doesn’t exist. When The Strokes play their song they only strum 3 times, but to make it harder NS include 4. And don’t even get me started on Dragonforce’s Through the Fire and Flames.

So, it’s back to its old ways, now what? There’s the obvious, ‘get better songs!’ and, ‘AC/DC! Led Zep!’ shouts. But this feature’s about more than that. Rock Band has raised the bar for rhythm action games, and Guitar Hero IV will definitely need to substantially improve if it wants to compete. More features and modes definitely have to be on the cards, or it will be more of a Guitar Hero III.V (3.5). The biggest and most significant feature I conjured up was the ability to create your own songs. If you go into the existing cheat menu you will find that you can hold the buttons and strum, and it makes a sound. I’ve fiddled around with this before, and with some optimization it could be a brilliant mode. You heard it here first! You could go into the ‘Create A Song’ option, and a guitar head, with the five buttons and the knobs you use to tune your’ guitar, would appear on screen. From there you can tune your’ guitar to how you want each note to sound, switch between acoustic, electric acoustic, electric and bass guitar, and actually play the notes. There will need to be a sophisticated timeline sort of menu, similar to the ones you will find in most audio and video capturing programs, that lets you play a note and then tune your guitar and carry on switching between these until you have created a riff. Then, you will have to show the game how you want the notes to be set out. You will enter a mode where you have a black line of where the timer starts on the fret board, on the same screen as a normal song, and from then on you play your’ riff once, pressing a four chord or tilting the controller upwards to stop the recording. This would be a long process, especially if you want to include a bassist, lead guitarist, and rhythm guitarist. After finishing the song, it will be playable online (co-op only) and offline, and you will be able to choose to play either bass, rhythm, or lead. This also poses a good feature that could lead to band play a la rock band where you have 3 guitarists, although that would have to be online enabled.

Just think about how deep that could go, sure it would only be instrumental, but if they could get Sony to allow the use of SingStar microphones in GH then the possibilities would be endless. There’s been talk about Game 3.0, meaning games that are more user orientated, where the player can make their own stuff and take on a sort of developer role, as seen in Halo’s forge mode and the whole of LittleBigPlanet. This feature would be, could be and should be massive, all we need now is for Neversoft to listen.

There’s also a demand for better graphics and a character creation feature, but none of that is necessary when you hardly get to see what’s going on behind the fret board anyway!

And finally, instead of including good songs, and well known songs, it would benefit most of us to try to pick songs that are actually fun to play. I haven’t spoken to many people who enjoy getting arm-aches and burning their fingers while playing 5 minutes plus of Dragonforce! Pick songs that don’t hurt your hands, pick songs that are meant for the game, similar to Cliffs of Dover on easy and medium.

If all of these features were implemented correctly into Guitar Hero IV, boy would we have some war on our hands! Harmonix, look out!
-Tyler Roberts