More Guitar Hero 5

29th October 2009 – 5.14 pm

I'm bashing my way through Guitar Hero 5. I jump right in to the hard difficulty drumming, bypassing the medium setting. I think my months of practice in the previous game will let me progress rapidly at the harder setting. The earlier songs in career mode are fairly boring, although that is probably an indication that I should be attempting them in expert mode, stepping down to the hard setting once it starts to get too difficult. But perseverance pays off, as I find some good songs to play along to.

I am enjoying the album classics tremendously. Any song that is still being played thirty years later must have some merit, and The Police, Dire Straits, Duran Duran, and others are all fun to listen to and to play, revealing plenty of talent in the bands. I am also finding some new songs to enjoy, with The Derek Trucks Band's Young Funk to be wickedly jazzy and most appealing. I know of Sonic Youth, but I hadn't heard of Incinerate before, which is followed by previously unknown The Sword with Maiden, Mother & Crone, both of which are excellent drumming songs. So Lonely is also in the set list with the previous two tracks, making it quite a venue to play. But this brings me back to the subject of set lists.

Whilst it is a good feature to have user-created set lists that can be saved and reloaded, even discounting the rather clunky interface to do so, it is disappointing that there is no option to play set lists in career mode. If I want to progress my drumming career I am stuck picking single songs at a time and I have the same complaint as with the still-absent album shuffle on the iPod Touch, in that I don't always want to micro-manage my song selections. On the other hand, it is not a terrible burden to have to select the next song in the venue list each time. It also means I don't have to suffer through the tedious horrors of death metal, at least not a second time.

I am also enjoying the updated graphics, for the band avatars, audiences, and venues. As a side note, it is good that I no longer need to pick a venue to play in every time I play a repeated gig, as I did in World Tour, again not caring to micro-manage that aspect of the game. I have heard complaints that the audience are just a handful of individuals cloned and therefore look a bit silly. But I will just point to the Tool gig in World Tour, as anyone who has played along to that will know that the stupefying backdrop plunged the gig in to the depths of boredom during quiet moments, and its pretentious nature ruined the immersive value of the game. In contrast, the new graphics give a colourful display to watch when your instrument is in a rest, particularly when you have a supergroup line-up, and the audience jumping along and band avatars providing a realistic performance creates a wonderfully immersive atmosphere for fake plastic rocking.

And remember, the sign of a good drummer is banging the sticks together during a fill.

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