Anyone who's even absently been keeping an eye on the state of things will probably have found the news that Activision have shelved their Guitar Hero franchise for the time being as nothing particularly surprising. Of course, it's not just Guitar Hero, DJ Hero - the latest instalment of which we scored pretty highly - is canned for the moment too, in fact Activision are shutting down their whole music division, with around 500 job cuts expected across divisions as a bit of reshuffling gets done.
Developer Manveer Heir tweeted on Wednesday night, 'Ugh sorry to hear about the Vicarious Visions layoffs today after Guitar Hero canceled [...] Sounds like Freestyle (DJ Hero) got hit too.'
It would seem that one of the most popular, and lucrative (though not so much these days), video game franchises just burnt out.
It's important, before everybody gets all misty-eyed, to note that that this was always on the cards. Guitar Hero had been in something of an unhappy state for some time now, struggling to push boundaries where had previously been a leading light, overtaken perhaps by its own flesh and blood in Harmonix and Rock Band. It was on the rocks, it had already sold out and released a 'Best Of' album. Whereas before it had led the way, World Tour seemed reactionary, the playlist functions and library imports concession to a crowd that had found a new virtual music simulator to love. With the last release, as Rock Band sought to scour new heights with new technology, Guitar Hero stubbornly attempted to go back in time and rediscover its roots.
But it had gone too far, and an overdose was never far away.Click here to read the rest of Matt's eulogy...
Platforms: PS3 (reviewed) | X360
For those about to rock, we suggest you find a comfy chair.
The first thing to hit about this latest sequel / revamp of the classic living room rocker is the multi-MB download that greets you. Followed by, if memory serves, another three odds and sods that come through – it’s not that I lost count, more that I was using the time to make several cups of tea and have a biscuit. Mind you, I could have made my own biscuits in the 75 minutes or so this all took.
I know it all adds to the game experience in the end, but when you’re confronted with a new rock “axe” and the latest Guitar Hero game, call me a big kid but, well, I want to play. Not terribly well, not terribly quickly, not very often above “medium” level but play nonetheless.
So, after the necessary downloads were sorted and the new axe was linked up – and, yes, alright, after I’d pulled a few Rock God poses in the mirror while wearing it – it’s into the game. And, despite the addition of a “Quest” story mode – with narration from Gene Simmons – it’s pretty much business as usual, which is either a very good thing if you’re in the “if it ain’t broke...” camp or a very bad thing if you expect a little more innovation for your hard earned cash.
The quest mode is pretty much based around the normal Guitar Hero / Rock Band activities. After laying through certain songs and gathering enough stars, your chosen player is transformed into a “Warrior of Rock” and given their mission to save, er, rock. This is given a little back story in an earlier cut scene but, frankly, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a case of pick up guitar, thrash the hell out of it, wonder how your fingers moved that quickly – if they don’t use this game for hand surgery rehabilitation I’d be very surprised – and proceed through more challenges. And then, when you’ve completed it and unlocked the rest of the game – almost as long again and with even tougher bits of thrash metal etc to master – you can go back and proceed through those challenges.