Guitar Hero

Back in 2011, we said a fond farewell to the Guitar Hero game series, the sequence of buttons required to make little cartoon people cheer at your mangling of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” left unpressed forevermore. But to all things there is a season, and the season for strapping on a lightweight plastic joystick in the vague shape of a guitar has returned. The Associated Press reports that, much like the recent Rock Band announcement, Guitar Hero is returning in new and improved iterations, the better to convince you that, hey, maybe your high school ska-funk band could’ve really gone places if you had just stuck with it.

The new version, entitled Guitar Hero Live, is scheduled for release some time this fall. It features redesigned guitars, live-action actors, and—most significantly—an online music video network from which players can access songs to perform. This mode, called “Guitar Hero TV,” will allow people to ditch the game’s universe and instead play along as the song’s official music video airs, a streaming function that will be included in the game’s $99 price tag.

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In news that will be exciting for anyone who was creeped out by watching eerily pixellated versions of their favorite artists singing other peoples’ songs, the new generation of Guitar Hero Live will instead feature a first-person perspective in a fictitious band. Players will take the stage along bandmates and audiences portrayed by human actors, who will then boo or cheer you depending on how well you play the song. Clearly a boon for topophobes everywhere, this new immersive, “you-are-there” experience can finally add the paralyzing fear of photorealistic strangers scorning your every move to the ostensible fun of a home music-based game. (Engadget has an account of playing the new game, and it sounds either exhilarating or terrifying, depending on your social anxiety levels.)

The game will again feature a range of popular artists to choose from, including The Rolling Stones, Green Day, Ed Sheeran, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, and others. Instead of trying to replicate those artists’ images, however, their music will simply be transplanted into fictional bands who inhabit a universe where Ed Sheeran doesn’t exist. FreeStyleGames, the company behind Guitar Hero Live, has not yet said if it was possible for players to somehow leave our Earth behind forever and enter the digital utopia of a Sheeran-free world.

The instrument has also changed, the five different colored buttons replaced by six buttons aligned in two rows of three. As we mentioned previously, the producer of Rock Band, Harmonix, has tried to stand out from its competitor by announcing that the new Rock Band 4 will be backward compatible, so that previously purchased songs and controllers can be used with the new game. So it may actually be time to pull that assemblage of color-coded rubber pads passing for a drum set out of your storage closet, the cumbersome piece of plastic finally worth having been saved all these years. Take that, Mom!

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