RIP to Shreds
by Adam R
A little less than a year ago, the gaming industry officially saw the end of a very short but inspirational era. In February of 2011 Activision announced the shut down of its once popular Guitar Hero series. Personally I had checked out of the whole music game movement back in 2008, with the release of Guitar Hero: World Tour, the fourth installment in the series. Around that time good ol’ Activision decided to start pushing out semi-yearly releases of its “profitable” GH series. After my musical hiatus of almost four years, I recently picked up Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and Rock Band 2 from the bargain bin. After taking the time to play through both these titles, leaving me with four fewer batteries, I have to say I am pretty sad to see the genre go.
With the Warriors of Rock game in particular, I feel that these game may have been on the cusp of really hitting their stride as far as included features went. The career mode, while still essentially a list of songs that increase in difficulty as you advance, finally had some real originality to it. There was a story behind the rockin’ in this iteration; you play the role of the chosen heroes of rock who were on a quest to revive the lost Demigod of Rock. While in past, choosing your musical avatar in these types of games would only effect what collection of pixels you would watch make a fool of itself on screen, this time each character brought with it a special ability that affects gameplay. Some characters guard your note streaks to keep your score multiplier high after a single mistake, others extend the multiplier itself beyond the standard 4x bonus.
While these additions don’t revolutionize the genre, they do add a dash of variety that seemed to be missing from the earlier titles that I had gobbled up like so many other music fans. This was shown off even more when used outside career mode, since the game allowed players to mix and match two different powers out of any that they had unlocked. This could lead to huge score multipliers, or virtually infinite star power that could be used to automatically double the score bonus the player had racked up. Like before, it wasn’t something that could save the genre, but it was definitely a nice change of pace from the traditional “here’s a song, now play it” routine of the previous games.
Playing Rock Band 2, I noticed other new features that enticed me. While this game stayed closer to the tried and true music game formula, it had its own little quirks that made the journey interesting, not the least of which was the inclusion of music tracks by Journey themselves. The career mode was expanded to allow you to play as the bass player – a trivial addition to some, but a bit of a deal to me since that’s my preferred instrument in these games. While I enjoyed the way the bass was handled in the Guitar Hero franchise more (mostly due to the addition of the open notes, which more closely imitated it than the Rock Band approach) it was definitely a plus to finally be able to use my preferred instrument with my created characters this time around, without having to brave the cesspit of online matchmaking. Other additions to career mode included the ability to create your own set lists for gigs, as well as being shown the amount of fans your fictional band was amassing. Again, these were small, almost meaningless, changes but welcome ones to the tried and true formula.
Thanks to other new features seen in these games, including the ability to import and transfer songs from previous titles and DLC, I will just go ahead and say something controversial: I miss the music game genre. Videogames have long been a means of entertainment, along with a added bonus of escapism. Many people wish to have to power to fling lightning bolts out of their hands, or be the hero that stands alone against some major catastrophe. Some people simply wished to be rock stars and that is a niche which these games helped to fill. Unfortunately that’s a niche we lost because of a variety of reasons I just don’t care to go into. The point is, once in a while it’s good plain fun to just get together with some fellow music lovers and just rock out. So rest in peace DJ RockGuitarBandHero. You will be missed, even if it is only by me.
Last five articles by Adam R
- Injustice: Gods Among Us - E3 Preview
- Halo 4 - E3 Preview
- If Music Be The Food Of Love, Game On
- RIP to Shreds
- Lost In Oblivion