Five Things We Want In the Next Guitar Hero

“It’s been a long time since a-rock n’ roll…”  We borrow this line from the classic Led Zeppelin song because it certainly explains the dearth of music/rhythm “rock” games that we had in 2011.  Sure, Rocksmith from Ubisoft helped fill the void, but it’s more of a learning tool than a direct competitor to the Rock Band/Guitar Hero throne.  Let’s be honest, despite the fact the series was starting to get a little long in the tooth, we did miss our fill of Guitar Hero last year.

Apparently, so did Activision.  Rumor has it that the company is working on relaunching the franchise later this year with a first reveal set to happen at E3 2012.  With that, we’ve got a few suggestions for the company in terms of what we want out of the next game.  If you’re a die-hard fan of rocking out on plastic instruments, we have a feeling you’ll agree with a lot of these.

So, without further ado, here’s our suggestions...

guitar hero logo

Less Gimmick, More Rock

When Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock came out in 2010, it brought a number of great tunes to play, including Rush’s full “2112” selections.  However, it also brought a silly story dealing with characters that evolved from typical guitar players to “rock gods”, transformations that were more embarrassing than effective.  What’s more, Gene Simmons’ voiceovers failed to provide any levity to the product.

So, with that, Activision, we suggest going back to where the original Guitar Hero began – with good ol’ rock and roll.  Rock Band 3 doesn’t rely heavily on gimmicks.  Instead, it brings plenty of options and selections for players to rock out too.  This is what we need again: less fluff getting in the way of the party and more stuff to jam out to along with friends.  Speaking of which…

 

More Party Modes

One of the biggest draws of Guitar Hero 5 was the inclusion of numerous modes where players could compete against one another while jamming out to their favorite tunes.  The new Guitar Hero should feature an abundance of these to draw in fans of the original series and newcomers who want to show off their rock licks with their family and friends.

With that, we’ve got some suggestions.  How about a Drum-Off mode where players can showcase their skills against one another and see how they stack up?  For that matter, the return of the versus jam mode, complete with power-ups, would be a welcome sight.  Also, maybe introduce mini-games, like Rocksmith did, that teaches players the basics of what buttons they should be hitting with approaching notes.

guitar hero

Free Play Or Go Home

As great as it is to play along to pre-scrolling notes on a song, there’s nothing more inviting to a music/rhythm game than creating your own.  Just look at the user creation aspect of the former Guitar Hero games, and you’ll get an idea of what we’re talking about.  Activision should provide a “free play” option, where players can create their own music with the plastic instruments and then share them with the world.  Would it be as real or as intuitive as Rocksmith?  Hardly, but it would certainly be a lot of fun, and it would actually teach us MUSIC.  We think that’s a vital ingredient to a music/rhythm game.

 

Less Superstars

One huge problem that Guitar Hero has been facing over the years is a number of lawsuits from stars who say they were “misrepresented” by the game.  Take No Doubt and Adam Levine, who appeared in previous Guitar Hero games but complained because, hey, you could use them as playable characters in the game and pair them up with songs that weren’t their own – a big problem, especially if you’re playing (God forbid) Taylor Swift.

With that, Activision needs to focus more on the music and less on getting celebrities involved.  Yes, we like it when big names are attached to a game, but we’re more concerned with playing along with what said big names provided previously, not including them digitally and making them look awkward.  For the record, Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain playing along to “Trogdor” is a truly awkward sight.  Never again.  And that brings us to…

rock band led zeppelin

Go After the Big Bands

Last but definitely not least, this is the year that Activision needs to go for the gusto and draw in some truly big names for the return to Guitar Hero.  And with that, we present one of the most sought after bands out there – Led Zeppelin.  These guys are truly essential when it comes to rocking out, from “Stairway To Heaven” to “When the Levee Breaks”.  Having them included in the game, even with just two or three songs, would be HUGE.  (And screw what Jimmy Page said, it’s essential.)

For that matter, there are other great artists that would make the game a party.  Pink Floyd comes to mind, with “Comfortably Numb” and other classics, and though the rights may be a bit of a hassle (um, who actually has them?!), it’d be worth it.  For that matter, Kid Rock could use a Guitar Hero debut, especially since his exclusive sign-up with Power Gig went nowhere fast.  (And can we have “Bawitdaba”, please?)  Finally, Activision would be wise to chase after some up-and-coming artists for the game, as they’ve done in the past.  The Black Keys are an ideal choice, we believe, since El Camino was pretty much the rock album of 2011.

 

Those are just some ideas we’ve got.  What are yours?  (And if you say keyboard, well, really, it’s been done.  Forget that.)

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Robert Workman
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