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Is Guitar Hero Live Any Good?

I’ve rocked out to plenty of songs on older Guitar Hero titles, from Guitar Hero 3 and Guitar Hero World Tour, as well as their rivals in Rock Band. In fact, I used to be pretty good, if I do say so myself. I can still play Expert on some Guitar Hero titles… Until I was met with Guitar Hero Live, which took all we knew about the series and changed it in a drastic way. For better or for worse, I’m here to talk about Guitar Hero Live and what makes it different from other Rhythm games of the same ilk.



Developer FreeStyle Games
Platforms iOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, XBox 360, XBox One
Initial Release
October 2015
Genre Rhythm Game
Price on Amazon £33.95 on Amazon (As of time of writing)




Over the years, the name Guitar Hero has become synonymous with people getting carpal tunnel syndrome, and this game is no different. Now instead of pressing 6 coloured buttons, you press buttons that are just in three positions on a plastic peripheral that we mockingly call a guitar. Now, the build of said guitar is stellar, so don’t get me wrong, but the change in buttons is most confusing, that’s for sure. It doesn’t flow as naturally, which means I’ve gone from playing Expert and managing approximately 70%* on Through the Fire and Flames, to going back to playing on a normal mode of difficulty. It’s unfair on the hardcore fans of the series, but at the same time, I see it as a challenge. You have three “top string” buttons, three “bottom string” buttons and you can press both notes together on a position on the fret board to make a chord. Hold down the corresponding button and strum with the strum bar, to really rock out!

Guitar Hero Live features two main modes, it has the “Live” mode and the “TV” mode. In Live, you will play a specific set list of a band, usually playing in a festival of some sort. You will see real people greeting you onto the stage, often with a tap on the arm, or a little wink. Then, your character stands in front of a sea of adoring fans, cheering you on. That is until you do badly, in which case they turn into real demons, wanting to throw things at you. It’s actually quite funny intentionally losing so you can see some of the silly things they throw at you and your band. The way the game handles this transition is superb.


As well as Live mode, you also have TV mode. This mode is the most interesting and will give you the most to play with. It also allows you to play against people in real time. Often the people will be a similar level to you as well, so it’s not like you’re completely out-classed. If you’re completely new to the franchise, you won’t have to interact with anyone – Just instead you’ll see your name go up and down a leaderboard of the “top 10 players” who are also playing that song at the same time. You can choose to play the music that’s playing on a channel, earning you “plays” and coins, or you can spend your “plays” to play a song of your choice from the expansive catalogue. You can also equip different Highways (the name of the fret board that appears on the screen), different player cards to represent yourself and different Hero Powers.  As a final point to take away from Guitar Hero TV, you are able to play songs that aren’t even in the main game – A very welcome touch!

Speaking of Hero Powers, unlike previous Guitar Hero games, you don’t get the 4x multiplier from the start in Guitar Hero Live. Instead, you’re given a “Clear Highway” Hero Power, allowing you to clear the Highway of any note that’s on the screen at that moment in time. As you go up in player level however, you are able to unlock other Hero Powers, including the famous 4x multiplier. This is generally pretty fair, although sometimes the scoring mechanic seems a little confused compared to days of old.


The range of music available on Guitar Hero Live is simply stellar, with some incredibly hard songs chosen. Couple this with the new style of Guitar, you’ve got yourself a hard little game to play. I found that I’m able to master shifting between the top and bottom buttons pretty easily, but the moment I go to Expert, it feels too fast. Maybe within time I’ll get there – But in the mean time, if I play on the TV modes, I don’t have to hear too much dreadful clunking noises, which is a blessing in disguise. The songs in the Live mode are pretty adequate for the bands that you are performing with.

If I were to nitpick, then sometimes the sound of the audience in Live mode can be far too loud, so you don’t really hear the song you’re playing.


This is an unfortunate one… For whatever reason, Activision have decided to weigh a heavy hand on this matter. You’re unable to take screenshots within the game, due to the copyrighted nature of the music in the game. This feels like a bit of a slap to gamers who just want to show off their scores to friends, who might not otherwise believe them. As such, instead of providing you a gallery of the graphics, here’s a run down of what they’re like.

They’re somewhat minimalistic, with the fact that they use real people in a lot of cases. They use real people (thus video) during the Guitar Hero Live mode. They also use the real music videos during Guitar Hero TV, which means we can’t judge the graphics too much. However the appearance of the Highway and the different skins for them are highly professional. The actual layout of the game is beautifully presented and leaves you with a crisp experience.



This isn’t the best Guitar Hero, but I don’t think it’s the worst Guitar Hero either. If you like to fiddle around with a fiddly plastic guitar, this game will suit you just fine. Just be forewarned however, this isn’t what you think it is. If you pick this title up, expecting another Guitar Hero title, you might be disappointed. From the fact the whole game is on lock-down, to the change in guitar and even play style, this is a much tougher, harder to master game. If you’ve ever played a real guitar, it’s still just as tricky. From the 6 classic fret buttons, down to just 3 that are on two strings, you feel a huge shift in the way the game is played. It’s not easy any more, although Expert never was. The perfectionist within me wants to get better at this however – so I’ll make it my business to do so.

If you’re looking for a bit of fun and just to strum along to songs, whilst rarely “failing”, but also rarely doing really well, then this game is perfect. It’s a lot of fun still, but I’d ask that you seriously consider what you’re buying. If you’re looking for a typical “Guitar Hero” feel, I’d recommend you purchase the latest Rock Band instead… However, if you want the challenge – Then this might be the game for you. What do you think of Guitar Hero Live? Is it a good game in your opinion? As always, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

*No really, I have eyewitnesses thanks to AmeCon this year.


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