previews\ Jun 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Soloing with Power Gig: Rise of the SixString


Fans of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series are all too familiar with the mocking question, "Why don't you learn to play a real guitar?" Power Gig won't teach you how to rock it like Jimi or Slayer, but it might actually teach you a thing or two about strumming a real six-string.

Power Gig's hook is that the controller is a real guitar, complete with pickups, strings, and a jack for your amp. It won't replace a Stratocaster, or even an entry-level Squire, but it's a bridge that makes the gap between fantasy and reality a little smaller.

Playing in standard mode, Power Gig only requires that you match the proper fret and strum (the same as Guitar Hero). Which string you hold down and strum doesn't matter. If you don't play guitar, the absence of buttons to guide your fingers will require a full rerouting of habits as you fumble hopelessly in search of the proper fret. Welcome to reality.

There are five levels of difficulty, which introduce more frets and the more advanced techniques of hammer-ons and pull-offs for hitting notes in quick succession. Power Chord mode ups the ante even further with tablature, which requires very specific combinations of strings and frets. It's the mode that can help you learn to play, but unfortunately, it was not available for preview.

To its disadvantage, Power Gig seems too eager to follow in the footsteps of its predecessors. The characters and visual style are impeccably mimed from Rock Band, which was already a descendant of Guitar Hero. Power Gig even has a microphone for vocals and, eventually, a kit for drums.

The drum set is the size of a very small ottoman and has no pads. Instead, motion-sensors send signals upward. They are surprisingly accurate, so long as you drum with stiff and concise movements. I sit slightly sideways at my Rock Band drums, much like a real drummer, and use extra movements of my arms to keep the beat, again, like a real drummer. In Power Gig, this led to hitting multiple drums at the same time and an absurd amount of extra hits.

I was able to play a song from The Donnas, Jet, Eric Clapton, and Three Doors Down, and I was told that Power Gig already has 70 master tracks from other artists to its name. There was talk of DLC, but nothing concrete to offer yet.

I wish I could have gotten my hands on Power Chord mode. It will have to be the selling point. Power Gig is already late to the show; Rock Band 3 has more songs, more players, and more instruments. If the developers want to succeed, they will have to quit playing copycat and play to their strengths. After all, how many other games can make you a better guitar player?

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