New to Guitar Hero: First Impressions

I’m very late to the party with the whole Guitar Hero / Rock Band thing, and rather than potentially blow nearly $200 on RB2 to find out whether or not I’m into the genre, I picked up Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock with the wireless guitar for $50 from Amazon.

So far, I’ve finished all of the Easy Career songs and found that gameplay pretty boring due to the fact that all of the songs are limited to just three frets. Now that I’ve begun the same songs on Medium Career mode, however, I’m starting to see why so many people are so into these games.

I played in a couple of (really really awful) bands during my college days: I played rhythm guitar and sang incredibly pretentious and hackneyed self-written lyrics. Even though we sucked, it was fun because girls were into it. The fact that girls were into it was actually my only motivation because we were never good enough to ever enjoy any satisfaction in our musicality.

That changed after college when I played bass with a band that actually practiced and wasn’t just in it for the girls. We didn’t play any of our own music (which probably helped a lot with the quality in addition to practicing regularly) but this was when I really felt the hook of musical performance: when we were really in the zone and playing well during a song, it was almost a transcendent experience where time lost meaning and it was just a sweet feeling to be one with the music. In all my years taking piano lessons and playing trumpet in the school band, I never knew making music could be so awesome.

It’s been about eight years since I’ve played in a band, but playing through some of these classic rock songs in Guitar Hero 3 is the closest I’ve ever felt to that zen-like state of being in the musical “groove” and I’m not even making any of the music, I’m just playing an expensive version of Simon Says. I can’t wait to pick up Rock Band 2 to see if the singing is anywhere as satisfying as the guitar part of this type of game is.

Coming from someone who was also late to the party and for whom GH3 was also my first of this type of game:

You’re in for a real treat when you play a fake music game that’s actually good!

Are any of the other instruments in RB2 easier for beginners to pick up? My kids can’t even make it through the first song on “easy” in this game.

Bass guitar is easier than guitar usually, but if they are failing the first songs in GH3 on “easy” I’m not sure they’d be ok with bass either. The songs in RB1 were easier across the board on guitar than the songs in GH3 were, per level, so like easy in RB1 is easier than easy in GH3, medium in RB1 is easier than medium in GH3, etc… at least it seemed that way to me when transferring from GH3 to RB1. It has been so long since I’ve played GH3 that I don’t remember if this holds true for RB2.

Also, RB2 also has a mode where you can’t fail out of the song which they push as the mode to use when playing with kids.

Singing on easy is pretty painless, although I don’t know how kids’ voices work with it. Drumming on easy is not a freebie, but the drum trainer in RB2 is superlative. Again, I don’t know how appealing that would be for kids.

Either way, you will be playing a much better, bigger game, especially once you rent RB1 and import the tracks for the 5$ licensing fee. Combined with no fail mode, you should have the recipe for a great time with your kids.

Also, I agree in broad terms with CCZ’s assessment of the difficulty curve comparison. I haven’t tried the new Beginner mode in GHWT, so as far as I know Easy on RB1/2 is as easy as it gets.

Once you get past the basic dexterity/coordination issues, I would recommend moving up in difficulties as soon as possible. It will prevent bad habits from forming, and it’s better to play easier songs/practice mode/no fail mode on a harder difficulty than it is to excel on an easier one. For your own difficulty upgrades, don’t forget about the fast scrolling mode (in RB2’s options) which allows you to spread notes out and makes learning harder songs a lot more accessible.

Also, IMO and that of a lot of other people (FWIW): GH3 which adds an additional difficulty problem in that many of the songs feel overcharted and/or do not seem to match the music as well as other rhythm games do. It’s not worth getting good at it, although if you do endure you should be blown away by the transition to others.

I was around lots of family at Thanksgiving, and I brought my whole Rock Band setup. My aunt and uncle have six kids, from about 15 to 4, and they have Guitar Hero 3 on the Wii. It was amazing watching the six-year-old Stephanie totally focused on the game and absolutely acing songs on the guitar on easy. I mean, it’s easy, but still, she made it look good. Then she even started playing the drums, which were new to her, starting with someone else working the foot pedal and barely squeaking through some songs on her own by the end of the night. That’s pretty awesome for a girl who’s feet don’t reach the floor when she sits at the drums (she slide half way off and just sort of leaned against it to reach the pedal).

I think the drums are a lot harder for beginners than the guitar, because the pedal is such an immediate coordination problem. My cousin restored my faith that with a little determination, anyone can get going on them pretty quickly.

I’ve also got a theory that the drums are harder to begin with, but the curve through the difficulties is smoother than for guitar. At the high end of expert the drums are certainly just as crazy as guitar, but a lot of people hit a wall when they try to go from medium to hard on guitar because you suddenly have to move your hand up and down the buttons. I don’t think there’s any particular wall with drums because there aren’t any new techniques enforced as you move up. Things just get harder. You might teach yourself some new techniques, like doing faster hits with one hand you started out alternating with two, but you don’t suddenly have to start doing something completely new as you get better at drums.

Anyway, I’m just sort of rambling. The drums are harder than guitar at first, but don’t let anyone tell you your kids couldn’t get the hang of them.

I really want to hear what Lizard King and Wumpus have to say about Guitar Hero.

I’d disagree and say that drums have their own wall in the hand/foot independence you’ll need to develop to play on Hard and Expert difficulties. Unlike guitar, which has a very defined wall when you hit Hard and suddenly need to start shifting your hand around, the drums will gradually train you to play more complicated rhythms as you progress.

I’d say one of the most definitive walls in drums (at least speaking for RB1) was Vasoline on Hard, where in order to pass, you’ll really need to figure out how to get your arms and legs to move independently.

Beginner mode in GHWT is definitely easier than No Fail mode in RB2. My daughter’s 5, doesn’t play any videogames (discovered Peggle recently, but that doesn’t count), and is easily frustrated by things that are new and in any way difficult. When she plays RB2 in No Fail mode, even though she’s not getting booed off stage, she still knows she’s missing the notes. With the GHWT beginner mode, she is able to actually hit the notes. She still loses interest after a song or two, but it’s better than collapsing to the floor in a weeping heap half-way through Eye of the Tiger on easy.

She also doesn’t sing well enough to pass vocal songs on easy. Even with songs she knows reasonably well, she sings in the correct rhythm, but in a monotone, and the game doesn’t like that much. We’ll try it again around Christmas time and see how she does.

Drums are difficult but rewarding in a way that the guitar isn’t (you are actually playing drums, after all).

On guitar I’m an advocate of trying to skip right to the Hard difficulty so you don’t learn any bad habits, but that doesn’t appear to be for everyone.

Yeah, we’ve discussed this in other threads, but there are definitely a few songs (again, in RB1) that just present something to you in a way you haven’t seen it before, and they are tough to get past. My approach was to play through on Medium (I started on medium) until I got to a song I couldn’t pass after a couple of tries, then I started a new campaign on Hard and played until I got stuck. Then I went back to my medium game, and when I did that, I blew through the rest of medium without a hitch.

Playing the guitar in these games is a skill that is pretty similar to other video games, but playing the drums is different. It’s deeply satisfying to see how easily you can do things that were impossible for you not long before.

I can’t wait to pick up Rock Band 2 to see if the singing is anywhere as satisfying as the guitar part of this type of game is.

The main difference is the band dynamic, trying to keep 2, 3, or 4 people in sync.

You’re going from a guitar-only game – where, even with guitar/bass, it doesn’t feel like a band – to a game where teamwork between the drummer, vocalist, and 2 guitarists actually matters and you feel like you’re playing together and in sync.

That’s the main difference between GH3 and Rock Band as I see it. The actual guitar part is pretty much the same, although you should know that GH3’s Hard is roughly equivalent to Expert on Rock Band, and so forth – every skill level is +1 harder in GH3.

Band play is, unfortunately, where Guitar Hero: World Tour goes horribly wrong; it’s a band game that makes playing as a band painful and unfun.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

Also, what was the name of your band?


That’s good to know. Easy was never much of a problem for some, but I’ve definitely had a few new players who haven’t touched a videogame since the SNES for whom it was a little frustrating.

No way I’m putting up pictures of how ridiculous I looked with long hair in college.

As an indicator of our unserious we were about our music, we used our co-ed intramural soccer team as one of our band names: The Screaming Willies. None of us was named Willie: that was a euphemism we had devised for what happened if you ate too much cheap Mexican food.

Rock Band 2 in “No Fail” mode will be a big hit! Seriously, RB2 is the best.

Something about someone being a “Tool.”

I will just say again that I thought that would be the case for my daughter and it wasn’t. Since she could still tell she wasn’t hitting the notes, she was still unhappy. I think GHWT is a terrible game, but the beginner mode there is better than easy w/no fail mode in RB2 for kids.

It’s interesting that even 5-year olds understand that games should have fail-states.

That is just spin. The reality is that 5-year olds think they should win at all games at all times.