Review: Guitar Hero Live

Every single time I go to a rock concert of one of my favorite bands, I always start to wonder how it must be for all of those artists, to get on that stage and blow the roof off that place. What kind of feeling do they actually have when they see all of those people singing along with the main singer, playing air guitar on their favorite tunes or fans screaming the craziest things… It’s something, we’ll never understand or feel. Although there are developers who try to simulate that feeling or experience with games like Rock band, Guitar Hero and Singstar but they never seem to capture that real life “WOW”- feeling due to the lack of immersion. The “Guitar hero”- franchise has left the stage for a couple of years and started its comeback by launching a redefined simulation of the rock experience namely “Guitar Hero Live”. Will the game perform its best show yet or let down the fans?


Guitar Hero is one of those popular gaming franchises that really revolutionized the industry. The guitar controller was badass and a lot of people tried their best in becoming the one and only Guitar Hero. I remembered the time where YouTube videos of Guitar Hero went viral because of the high experienced level of gaming. It was wicked to see how people really mastered the expert difficulty in the Guitar Hero setting. It really had some fantastic years but like any other popular games, it became a franchise that was easily exploited. There was a new Guitar Hero game each single year, alongside a new Rock Band game and it really wasn’t for the better. Each Guitar Hero after the first was the same game of previous year but with a few tweaks and another selection of songs. They tried to boost the franchise with a new title game “DJ Hero” but this wasn’t as successful as the “Guitar Hero” titles. Then the weirdest thing happened, Guitar Hero went low under the radar and entered the background of the gaming industry.


After years of being in the background, it was time for a comeback and this leads me to “Guitar Hero Live”. I was very excited when I saw the first trailer of Guitar Hero Live, it seemed that they’ve really listened to the community in terms of “improvement”. There was a new selection of songs, a new guitar controller and a new way of “immersion”. I was looking forward to my first hands- on with the game and this happened in Gamescom. My first impression was really good: the game ran smoothly, the graphical tweaks were modern, a good selection of demo songs and the interaction with the crowd and other band members was mesmerizing. Long story, short: I became excited for the game! Unfortunately excitement creates expectations and this is where the plane got shot down. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the game but it just didn’t give me that WOW- feeling.

Let me explain. First of all, the new guitar controller. The design is good and I really like the fact that they’ve got rid of the 6 buttons next to each other and made it more “practical” by putting 3 buttons above the other 3 buttons. Thanks to this setting, I’ve got less cramp in my fingers than previous games but I must add the following. It would have been perfect if there was a bit more space between the 3 buttons lined up next to each other because sometimes during a difficult session of a song, the chances are high you’re pressing those other buttons too. Another thing I would like to mention is the fact that the “HERO”- power button is too close to the “start” button. My guitar session is often interrupted because of the closeness of those 2 buttons. This is of course my own opinion and could be different from yours. In terms of the controller’s reaction, it has been fluently without any problems or difficulty. The strum button still works and reacts how it should.

However, there were some connectivity issues in the beginning of my setup. After re-plugging my USB connector a couple of times, it eventually started to work. I haven’t had connecting issues during my play sessions so that’s definitely a plus.

It seemed that they’ve really listened to the community in terms of “improvement”


The live audience or the live setting is actually a great addition to the game. It’s cool to see that the audience and your band members react to your playstyle. If you’re playing badly, the crowd will stop dancing and start “booing”. Even your band members will give you the impression that you’re ruining the concert. In the beginning, they’re trying to get your play style back in order but unfortunately their patience isn’t very high but who could blame them.


The “GH Live” option is kind of your career mode. You’re a member of different bands who play different kind of songs. You’ll have the ability to choose between different festivals, and of course different festivals mean different songs styles.  For example: hard rock, pop, alternative, country … You name it! They have a variety of songs. You’ll always play a set of 3 songs in different clubs. It’s those little things that really show the amount of work they’ve put into this LIVE crowd. The crowd varies in unique persons, they sing along, they dance, they scream and shout, they even have those sign boards with different quotes … It’s really fun to see them act this way.

Unfortunately, there’s no point system in this mode and I don’t really know if the hero power makes a difference in this game or not. Some of the notes have a lightning icon that fuels your hero power but since there’s no point system, I don’t think it really matters to that part of the game. The hero power does nothing besides lighting up and raise the volume a bit. It gives no “extra” to that part of the song.

The other mode is called “GH TV”. This mode lets you link up to a certain playlist of songs. In this playlist, you’ll play one song after the other. Sometimes you’re playing mid- song and you can’t gather all of your points for that song. The point system in this mode is very important since it uses your score to place your avatar on the leaderboards. Each song has its leaderboard, so it’s easy to see on how good you’re doing. You start off with a basic hero ability (known as star power in previous games) but as you level up your hero status, you’ll be able to choose from different abilities. You can also customize your player card and note highway. As you level up, you’ll get access to premium content. This content contains new music videos or even concert footage of a certain band or song. Besides gaining experience, you’ll also gain currency that can be used to play your favorite songs immediately instead of waiting in a playlist hoping that one of your songs come along.

One of my main issues, I have with the game is the sound quality of your own guitar sounds. I often have the feeling I’m not an important part of the band since my guitar isn’t very hearable. When I make a mistake, the song completely stops instead of just the lead guitar part. Guitar Hero is all about playing the lead guitar hero solos and I haven’t had many of these epic parts in the game and that’s a shame. Some songs you’ve had to play didn’t even have a strong lead guitar part and that’s even more shameful. This doesn’t mean there weren’t any of these awesome parts, there were but just too few to mention.

The game is okay, it’s actually good but it wasn’t the comeback I expected. If you like these simulation games, you probably bought it already. If you’re one of the old guys hoping for a brand new experience with these guitar simulation games, you’ll probably be a bit let down. For new players, it’s the perfect Guitar game to start with. It’s fluent, a good interface and even beginner friendly. The live crowd is really a big plus but like I said, I’m missing those epic guitar solos in the “Guitar Hero Live” mode. Guitar Hero does bring your friends closer thanks to its good multiplayer experience but you need an additional set of instruments to really enjoy its multiplayer and that can be painful when you see those prices.