Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I Will Rock Your Faaaaace!

My posting schedule has never been what one would consider "frequent"... or even "adequate". There are plenty of reasons for this, good ones too. Things like laziness, apathy, lethargy... you get the idea. Understand, this is by no means evidence of any contempt for you, the readers of this site and my many fans (I'm talking about you Joanna, and maybe Ben... and that's probably it). Quite the contrary, if any this is a blog for the people. However, if I have one true weakness it is this: shiny things. What can I say, I am easily distracted. So it's time for me to make the shiny things work for me, and introduce what will hopefully become a new running segment: "Buy Stuff", a look at whatever is captivating my attention these days.

For the first installment of this new feature, we turn to my run away favorite Playstation 2 game of 2005: Guitar Hero.



I've always been a fan of music games, especially ones by developer Harmonix. I have both Frequency and Amplitude and highly recommend both, as well as Mad Maestro, a quickly little game where the gameplay revolves around conducting symphonies. I've also played my fair share of Donkey Konga, but that is another post all together. However, despite a game design centered around the traditional music/rhythm game style (press buttons in sequence that correspond to notes), there is one aspect that makes Guitar Hero really stand out: the guitar controller.



Music games using the traditional game pad have always been fun, but they simply can't hold a candle to putting on the guitar and having at it. Having never actually played a REAL guitar before, the experience is a revelation. It is hard to believe, but the game actually makes you feel like rocking out-- hard. I would be lying if I said that when time I play it I don't have an urge to jump on my couch and start doing the windmill like Pete Townsend of the Who. The only thing that's stopping me is the adverse affect on my score.

The cause of such a euphoric rock feeling isn't just the gameplay (which is rock solid), but the style of the game. You work your way up through venues, from basement party to sold out stadium, and every stop on the way is a vibrant environment to play in. Your character (there are 6 to choose from, from punk rawk chick to 60s groover to heavy metal dude) plays with gusto and will even interact with other members of the band. The crowds are electric... when you are playing well. Of course, screw up and they boo you. The entire production is incredibly fun to experience. Especially when you get to the larger shows and you start getting lights and pyros synched up to your show.



Of course, with a game like this no amount of style or gameplay can save it from having a shitty soundtrack. Worry not, all you need to do is check out this lineup:

  • Audioslave
  • The Ramones
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Cream
  • Pantera
  • Boston
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Queen
  • David Bowie
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Black Sabbath
  • White Zombie
  • Deep Purple
  • Judas Priest
  • Bad Religion

Now mind you, this is by no means a comprehensive list. There are 30 tracks to play, and another 17 bonus tracks after that. The one crucial thing that they needed to get right for this game to work they absolutely nailed.

Of course, there is one added bonus to this game which pushed it absolutely over the top to a game which I consider indispensable: it is more or less based in Boston. Your first venue is a little bar on Landsdowne, then you move up to a newer, larger club on Mass Ave, and work your way all the way to a "Great Woods" like festival and finally a sold out show at the Garden. And if that weren't enough, a lot of the bonus tracks are local bands. If you are a fan of the Boston music scene at all, you absolutely need this game.

Clearly, I have all ready talked too long about this game. It is fantastic. Anyone who has tried it has absolutely loved it, and it's easy enough to learn that even my Mom placed a high score. You are doing yourself, and your country, a disservice by not owning this game. And if you are one of those crybabies who says they don't want it because they don't own a Playstation 2, well suck it up and go buy one. Getting one used won't cost you that much, and you seriously have no idea what you are missing out on. Why are you still reading this? Run to your preferred local places of businesses all ready. This game isn't going to rock itself out.

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