There's one thing I've always loved about guitar-based games. It is impossible to play them without lifting the head of the guitar above your left shoulder, holding the body somewhere around groin height and pulling "that" face. You know the one: eyes shut, teeth exposed, "The Air Guitar Rictus of Pain."
Bad news. That could be a thing of the past when Guitar Hero - Warriors of Rock hits the shelves. Not because it's a substantially different game, oh no. More because it's phenomenally bloody difficult.
Well, perhaps I'm exaggerating for comedic effect. But trust me, when you get to the exclusive Megadeath track composed especially to challenge the most dexterous of Guitar Hero fans, the rictus of pain will not be imaginary.
At the recent Activision preview event, we got a sneak peak of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock - and the new stripped down guitar controller - and watched their professional team of "musicians" attack a couple of rock classics to demonstrate the flexibility of the game, the efficient drop-in / drop-out mode of Party Play. With a little Sabbath and some Twisted Sister - "We're not gonna take iiiiiit" - the band were on form. Then Megadeath kicked in, an apparently endless snake of notes from green to orange and back again. Notes - many notes - were dropped. Audience members - many clearly rock fans - looked nervous: I predict a LOT of finger exercises between now and the game's release later this year. Seriously, it didn't look like a Guitar Hero track. It looked like someone had scattered a very big bag of M&Ms across the screen.
Before you get to that level though, there's lots of new stuff to look at. While the usual Guitar Hero shenanigans are here in abundance - across a whopping 90+ new tracks - and the familiar modes seem to be working well, the big announcement is... Quest Mode.
Yep, at the centre of this incarnation is a story - narrated by Gene Simmons, natch - of the need to defeat beasts as you seek out an ancient guitar and try to save rock 'n' roll.
Using any combination of instruments, players get to embark on what Activision's calling "a larger-than-life, epic rock journey" that starts at New York's famous punk venue CBGBs, and ends in, er, "the molten lava fields of rock treachery." Nope, us neither.
The game sees eight Guitar Hero characters transformed into rock warriors with special powers. The one shown was a punk called Johnny Napalm who, after dazzling with his fretwork - Megadeath might have confounded 'em but the pro team were damned good on other bits - is transformed into Mohicaned, guitar toting warrior. he could then join the rest of the gang in helping the Demi-God of Rock take down “The Beast” and save rock n’ roll.
Or, as Simmons has it, "the world is a boring place. Come with me, and enter a world populated of Demi-Gods and Beasts. Transform from an everyday person and become the savior of rock and roll." And if the man behind KISS says that, then who are we to resist?
It looks great fun, to be honest, and typically tongue in cheek. Best, it doesn't appear to have been introduced to detract from the rest of the game. That, according to the makers, is an attempt to "bring the soul back" hence tracks from the likes of Def Leppard, Foo Fighters, Queen, Muse, Slipknot, The Rolling Stones, KISS (no surprise there, then) and Dire Straits. Presumably so you can play with your dad. You can check out all of the confirmed tracks so far at the end of this post.
One fine touch is the fact that any combo of instruments is now playable. If everyone wants to be a guitar hero, they can be. You could even have a fourpiece choir singing Nine Inch Nails if you really wanted.
As with all of these, more when we know it...
- AFI – “Dancing Through Sunday”
- Anthrax – “Indians”
- Avenged Sevenfold – “Bat Country”
- Black Sabbath – “Children Of The Grave”
- Buzzcocks – “What Do I Get?”
- Children Of Bodom – “If You Want Peace... Prepare For War”
- The Cure – “Fascination Street”
- Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar On Me (Live)”
- Dethklok – “Bloodlines”
- Dire Straits – “Money For Nothing”
- DragonForce – “Fury of the Storm”
- Drowning Pool – “Bodies”
- Fall Out Boy – “Dance, Dance”
- Foo Fighters – “No Way Back”
- Foreigner – “Feels Like The First Time”
- The Hives – “Tick Tick Boom”
- Jane’s Addiction – “Been Caught Stealing”
- Jethro Tull – “Aqualung”
- KISS – “Love Gun”
- Linkin Park – “Bleed It Out”
- Megadeth – “Sudden Death”
- Metallica & Ozzy Osbourne – “Paranoid (Live)”
- Muse – “Uprising”
- My Chemical Romance – “I'm Not Okay (I Promise)”
- Night Ranger – “ (You Can Still) Rock In America”
- Nine Inch Nails – “Wish”
- The Offspring – “Self Esteem”
- Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
- Rammstein – “Waidmanns Heil”
- The Rolling Stones – “Stray Cat Blues”
- Silversun Pickups – “There’s No Secrets This Year”
- Slayer – “Chemical Warfare”
- Slipknot – “Psychosocial”
- Stone Temple Pilots – “Interstate Love Song”
- ZZ Top – “Sharp Dressed Man (Live)”