When Guitar Hero was unleashed upon the world in 2005, it created quite a stir among the gaming public–it was a novel way to hear some of your favorite classic rock jams while pretending you could actually play an instrument. Sure, there had been other music games but they were mostly cutesy and gimmicky. And they didn’t feature Ozzy tunes.
By the time Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was released last year, the series had become a bona fide cultural phenomenon. It not only blurred generational lines by presenting old and new music, it reinvigorated people’s interest in rock ’n’ roll and became a legitimate avenue for record companies to regain some financial ground lost over the past 10 years.
The stakes were raised considerably when Rock Band, created by the original Guitar Hero developers Harmonix, debuted last year with a full-band set-up and entire albums’ worth of songs available for download.
Now, with the release of Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour, XLR8R takes a look at what to expect this time around, and speaks with the games’ respective developers on how they plan to explode our consciousness with faux-rock awesomeness.
Guitar Hero: World Tour (Activision; Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PS2)
Number of tracks at time of release: 86
Highlights: Nirvana’s “About a Girl (Unplugged),” Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” Modest Mouse’s “Float On,” Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”
Frontman: Alan Flores, Lead Designer
No Drummer Jokes
Similar to Rock Band, World Tour features an entire band set-up with guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. The redesigned guitar has a touch-sensitive slide bar that allows for tapping and bass slapping while the new drums are covered in silicone–they won’t make a racket yet have a velocity-sensitive bounce to them. Dedicated cymbals also ensure a more realistic experience.
Flores: “Once they get used to the size and spacing of the kit, real drummers can close their eyes and just play the song.”
Make It Real
World Tour’s Music Creator is perhaps the biggest addition to either game. It essentially gives you a console version of Cubase, allowing you to edit and upload your creations for others to check out online. Create-a-Rocker takes it a step further, offering deep character customization with everything from outrageous clothes to facial features.
Flores: “We let you change everything. If you want to make a ninja or a superhero, you can do it. [Plus], four people can plug in their instruments in any combo, switch samples, and jam together live in real time. We’re really trying to get people to create their own music in a fun way, and can’t wait to see what kind of music people come up with.”
Reviving the Dead
The likenesses of several rock stars are set to make appearances, including Jimi Hendrix, Billy Corgan, and Zakk Wylde. In addition, several bands are looking to make their new records available for download in their entirety.
Flores: “We have a lot of artists talking to us about releasing their new albums [with us] like we did with Metallica. A lot of new things will be coming out [including] an R.E.M. pack and a Jimi Hendrix multi-pack shortly after launch.”
Rock Band 2 (EA; Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PS2)
Number of tracks at time of release: 75 (plus every song from Rock Band can be transferred to Rock Band 2)
Highlights: Guns N Roses’ “Shackler’s Revenge,” Mastodon’s “Colony of Birchmen,” Lush’s “De-Luxe,” Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box,” Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”
Frontman: Dan Teasdale, Lead Designer
Rock Band 2 allows for all of your content from the first game, both from the actual disc and downloaded, to be imported into the new game.
Teasdale: “There’s no such thing as Rock Band 2 downloadable content or Rock Band 1 downloadable content; we simply have a Rock Band Music Store. [Soon], we’ll have over 500 songs available, ranging from massive classic acts like Boston and David Bowie all the way to new independent acts like The Mother Hips and Count Zero.”
Take 'Em On
Battle of the Bands mode allows you to take the band you have created online against other bands around the country to play in competitions set up by Harmonix.
Teasdale: "The key for the Battle of the Bands mode is that it’s not just four players versus another four players. This is a real band competition of both your friends’ bands and the entire world."
Train in Vain
A new Drum Trainer mode actually teaches the basics on how to play the drums.
Teasdale: “The new Rock Band Drum Kit has dramatically quieter pads and a steel-reinforced kick pedal, as well as expansion ports for three cymbals and a second pedal. If you want to be a real drummer, you can purchase the Ion Drum Rocker, a professional-grade electronic kit that also works with Rock Band.”
Once you have created your band, upload it to the Rock Band website where you can create “official” band merch.
Teasdale: "RockBand.com's Merch-O-Matic lets you take your band’s logo and your characters and pose them for images, as well as for real-world t-shirts and posters. You can even make a real figurine that looks identical to your characters."