As reported earlier today, Activision’s huge announcement is called Guitar Hero Live and there has been more then a few changes. Gone has the cartoony looking characters of yesteryear, and in it’s place is you, standing in the shoes of a Guitarist performing in front of a live audience, and when I say live I mean that the video playing behind your HUD is of a real life audience. This game is aiming to give you stage fright.
Ok, so it’s hard for me to explain what I mean by a live-footage of the audience, so it is best for you to just watch the trailer below.
The games live audience, which will only be available for single player but each song now plays against footage of a fictional band performing that exact song, and it’s seen from the perspective of you, the lead guitarist. You’re no longer watching the band; you’re an integral part of it. “One of the things we really came to quite early was about how to use the camera in the game,” Jamie Jackson, the creative director says. “Previously you’d always look towards the stage, you’d always looked at the band – this third-person view of the character you’d selected. We said, ‘Why don’t we turn the camera around and look out at the crowd and position you on the stage, and make it first-person like Call of Duty has done and make you a part of the action, and apply that to this game?’”
This illusion is sold by lots of little touches, like a performance beginning backstage with you nervously fiddling with a plectrum and hanging out with your bandmates. As you walk on to the stage – which can be an intimate gig with the venue decked out in fairy lights or something as grandiose as the main stage at festival – the guitar technician might give you a little nod of the head to wish you luck. And even though you’ll always be playing a part in a fictional band, it makes a big difference that they’re composed of real-life musicians.
But then how is this done? How is the game going to seem so realistic? It becomes much clearer when you realise the lead guitarist, your avatar, isn’t a man with a camera strapped to his head but a 800-pound, state-of-the-art robotic camera. It’s a leviathan composed hydraulic levers and insulated cabling, and takes up most of the stage, but from the finished product you’ll never know it was there, so perfectly can it imitate the movement of a guitarist strutting about the stage. The moves made by the ‘Guitarist’ was choreographed by FreeStyleGames – the team behind DJ Hero. The camera’s movement is programmed with the position of the band mates in mind and to focus on them during key parts of a particular song. Plus being a machine, it has the ability to perfectly repeat the same movements with every take, this allows the game to seamlessly transition between positive and negative performances.
Not only has the game graphically improved but so has the way the game is played, gone are the 5 colour buttons that we are used to, in it’s place like reported earlier, are 2 rows of 3 buttons shown on the new guitar controller shown below. The top row are the black keys, while the bottom are the white ones. The main pieces of information you now need to interpret is whether it’s the left, centre, or right note, and whether it’s on the top or bottom. In truth, this simplification doesn’t make anything easier, and actually gives rise to more complex and realistic fretwork as it’s now possible to create patterns resembling chords. Also, just the way in which your fingers now move around the frets is closer to the real thing.
As always with these sort of games, exact track listings have yet to be finalised, but artists already confirmed include The Killers, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, The Rolling Stones, Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The War on Drugs, and Skrillex. Also, in addition to Guitar Hero Live, there is also Guitar Hero TV, a 24-hour music channel accessed through the game, which essentially turns any music video into a playable Guitar Hero track. Of course, you don’t get all the live audience stuff you get in Guitar Hero Live, but is that a bad thing? Plus don’t like a particular track tats playing? You can skip between a couple of channels within GHTV. This serves as the games multiplayer component, both competing against friends locally and online.
Guitar Hero Live is currently aiming for a Autumn 2015 release.