Guitar Hero Rocks the 80's

I picked my copy up yesterday, and after a day of shredding through all 30 songs in the game, I couldn’t shake the urge to write up a little something on the experience.

1st off, the game is for the most part Guitar Hero 2. There’s very little added to the menus, arenas, band members, or interface that make it feel like they did anything aesthetically to give it more of a 1980’s feel.

If I had to guess, I’d say that that re-tooling the game to look more 80’s MIGHT have been the intention of the folks at Harmonix before they departed Activision, but what they left behind instead (probably in late beta stages using most of the G.H. 2 assets) was in a state that was deemed “releaseable”. Honestly, I find it really upsetting to pop in a game that cost $50 and see so little work having contributed to a “1980’s themed” title in that respect.

So, moving on - it’s pretty much Guitar Hero 2 gutted with new songs and new character costumes.

Having played through both G.H. games, I can say that this one may have very well been my favorite play-through experience in terms of track selections … in almost every chunklet of 5 song groups, I found myself saying “I LOVE that song” -OR- “I FORGOT how great that song was!” (which, coming from somebody who grew up in the 80’s … we did our best to “forget” a lot of hair-band music … which honestly is pretty decent, especially for a Guitar Hero type party game).

Now, great music aside … I’ve always played through Guitar Hero games on “normal” and occasionally on “hard” when I’m challenging a friend … and going from G.H. 1 to G.H. 2 there was a certain … “evolution” of the way that Harmonix layed out combos … the kind of thing that’s pretty much standard for game developers to do in a rhythm game like this … make things a BIT more complex, but also a bit more IMMERSIVE …

… this is one place in playing through Encore that I’m kind of torn on calling a hack-job … or calling an attempt to emulate the “heavy metal” chord structure. The chords and combos in the game just feels a bit too easy, or basic, at least on Normal and Hard. This again could be the result of the game being “left in a state of development infancy” by Harmonix prior to their departure, and the folks at Activision not really knowing the “secret formula” to make it better (or at least on par with G.H. 2) or, it could be that the music of the era was made with very simple power chord structures and crazy solo licks (which, even in the case of solos … don’t seem AS COMPLEX as G.H. 2).

It’s a REALLY tough call there, though, and maybe it’s because I’m now a fairly experienced G.H. player, but on Normal, I didn’t average below %96 on ANY song all the way through on my first try, on EVERY song. No losses, no screw ups, no headlines that read anything less than 5 stars. (And I went through all 30 songs in one play session with no break.)

In closing -

  • At the end of the day though, for PS2 owners, it’s something currently exclusive.

  • It IS a BIT expensive for how little work REALLY went into it’s development (shame on you Activision) … it really should have been a $20 title. (But, then again, the cost of licensing that much good music is ALWAYS going to be expensive … so, the cost probably is going to that.)

  • The MUSIC IS great, if you’re a fan of that era or not, once you’re actually playing a majority of these songs, you’ll likely realize or remember how great they sound or how perfectly they fit into a G.H. game. And this increases the value of Encore as a party game exponentially.

  • It’s a HECK of a lot easier than previous entries in terms of rhythm combos, and again, this may be due to limited development time by it’s original programming team before they put it aside.

I’ll give it a 7 out of 10 (with most going to the quality of the song selection), yet, even with an average score like that, when my friends come by to play some Guitar Hero … I’ll bet this is probably going to be the first selection for a good long time … if for no other reason than it’s 30 new tracks to enjoy.