Guitar Hero! Ah, Guitar Hero, three weeks on and I’m still hooked on Guitar Hero 3 at any available opportunity. Yahtzee’s latest Zero Punctuation reviews it (as usual in the most magnificent possible fasion), nailing the primary appeal of pretending to be up on stage as GOD of ROCK (holding a small yapper-type dog) (possibly feeding it Caesar). It works well as a game in a number of other ways, though. One great advantage it has is that a song provides a natural 3 – 6 minute chunk of gameplay; short bursts of frequent achievements that can hook you in for hours with that “go on then, just *one* more” feeling familiar to anyone who’s done those early WoW quests (the very first time when everything is still shiny and new and fresh, not on your 17th alt as you pilot through Westfall with the cold dead eyes of an automaton on your way to level 19, dual boxing through the Deadmines eight times for that optimal twink gear so you can butcher poor innocents in Warsong Gulch with all the joy of a 1978 East German public information film), or eaten Pringles. Equally, if you have a shorter chunk of time (like the average play session of Half Life 2: Episode 2, now down to 25 minutes), you can still feel like you’ve achieved something. It would almost be verging on genuinely casual (as in Bejewelled-casual, not the MMO-casual definition of anyone who spends more time sleeping than gaming; there are, of course, the hardcore three armed spider-trainers of Guitar Hero and people who rack up *billions* of points in Bejeweled, but still) if it didn’t take five minutes to get the Wii going, load up the game and click through the SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE loading screens.
Though Yahtzee’s right about the game hitting a bit of a difficulty wall in the final tier of the Hard career (still haven’t got One and Raining Blood), the song based nature of Guitar Hero gives it another advantage in replayability. Where I tend not to re-read books or re-watch films (at least, not for a few months/years), I’ll quite happily listen to songs or albums several times over (though not quite to the extent of a friend of mine who’d take a single song, endlessly loop it on tape and play that in his car for weeks at a time), and I’m getting into the Guitar Hero 3 songlist to the extent of uploading a good chunk of it to my iPod (even some of the bonus tracks, Naast’s Mauvais Garçon is rather fun. There’s something about foreign lyrics… in another “weird things to wake up to on the clock radio” experience, there was a trailer for Pop in Translation this morning, playing a German version of Petula Clarke’s “Downtown” that was a strangely confusing thing when not entirely awake). There’s even “grind” (lots of practice to get through songs on expert mode, sometime more frustrating than trying collect assorted livers and spleens from seemingly internal-organ-less wildlife) and “PvP” (I’ve played a few online matches, winning most, though only playing on Medium difficulty; the range of Hard means I’m pretty decent on the earlier tiers, but would be hopelessly thrashed on the last couple by the legions of trained spiders).
All in all, the musical base of the game gives a number of inherent advantages, so I’m most intrigued to see how Audiosurf turns out.