Guitar Hero and Rock Band video games don't disappoint

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2008

By Leigha Hougland and Kaitlyn Cuevas
For The Salisbury Post
Imagine yourself on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, all going insane over your face-melting guitar solo. This is a fantasy that occurs for most people at some point in their life.
Now this dream is a little more accessible through two popular video games. Guitar Hero and Rock Band are games that allow players to step into the world of being a rock star, guitar and all.
With controls that mimic the shape of actual instruments, it is no wonder why so many have been attracted to these games that have broken all rules for what a video game normally is.
Guitar Hero is the first of its kind, and is therefore favored by most gamers. Having first appeared in November 2005 for Playstation 2 consoles,the game has since expanded to fit more game consoles.
In the past, there had been games that allowed players to perform with musical instruments, but what made Guitar Hero exciting was the ingenious invention of the controller. Instead of using the standard console controls to play the game, Guitar hero comes with a guitar-shaped controller that furthers the gaming experience.
This invention is what really seems to attract people to the game. Jessica Gaskill, 17, says she wouldn’t play the game if it weren’t for the controller. For her, the controller is what makes the game fun.
When Guitar Hero was first released, the franchise sold more than 14 million copies, earning close to $1.1 billion in total sales. It became evident that this creation was destined to have a huge impact on the gaming world.
Players can choose from large selections of songs, which are different for each of the three game versions. A player can move to the next gaming level by performing songs at a certain level.
Despite the difficulty of the game, people of all ages have enjoyed rocking out with Guitar Hero. The Gaskill family enjoys playing the game together, including the youngest member of the family, Meredith, who is only 5 years old.
Andy Efird, 34, is a Salisbury police officer who says that he spends a good bit of time playing Guitar Hero. Efird says it helps him take his mind off work: “It’s stress relief for me.”
The game features easy, medium, hard and expert difficulty levels. To play, you have to strum the guitar and play the notes that are lit up on the screen at the correct time. To beat the game, you must master each song in each difficulty level, which isn’t an easy task.
Jace Weddington, 14, is a long-time fan of Guitar Hero. He has defeated the second and third versions of the game with little sweat.
“You can play and have fun without the stress of actually having to perform,” Jace explains, which seemed to be a large selling point for him since he is a guitarist outside of the gaming world.
Jace also points out that the game is fun because you can enjoy your favorite music and also be introduced to new bands and songs.
The songs offered on the Guitar Hero games are mostly rock, ranging from ’80s hair bands to more recent artists. With the wide variety of rock music to choose from, everyone is sure to find something they enjoy.
So Guitar Hero allows people to play guitar like Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose, but what about the other parts of the band?
On Nov. 20, 2007, the ultimate virtual musical experience rose to the next level with the release of the video game Rock Band. Unlike Guitar Hero, Rock Band incorporates the different aspects of a band into the game, including guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.
Rock Band allows one to four people to collaborate and experience the exhilaration of rocking out in a band.
“Unlike Guitar Hero, I can play with people and work with other people,” says Arion Chamberlain, a senior at Salisbury High School. He adds that being able to play the different instruments sparked his interest in the game.
Rock Band’s drumset particularly attracted Arion to the game. He believes the drums are the most challenging part of the game and add excitement to the entire rock ensemble.
The two guitars are modeled after electric guitars and the drum set comes with four pads and two real drumsticks. A microphone is provided for the vocal portion of the game so singers can belt out the words of their favorite rock songs.
Songs featured in Rock Band consist of well-known punk, southern, metal, alternative or classic rock tunes.
Joe Wilson, a senior at Salisbury High, says the music, songs, and controllers heighten the entire Rock Band experience. He also adds that having more people involved makes the game that much more fun to play.
The main objective of Rock Band is to excel in each level of play. This depends upon each gamer’s accuracy when playing the scrolling notes on the television screen. However, the Band World Tour mode allows players to excel through popularity among audiences.
In this game mode, players start out as local bands, landing gigs in small-town coffee houses. Through gradual progress and recognition, the band moves higher and higher up to supreme stardom.
After comparing the excitement of the two games, it is hard for prospective buyers to decide which they want to experience.
Budget considerations may make the decision easier. Prices for the games are similar at Wal-Mart, Circuit City and Best Buy. Guitar Hero III, averaging around $90 for the Wii and Playstation 2 consoles, costs much less than Rock Band. For the X-Box 360 and Playstation III, Rock Band costs about $148; for the Playstation II console, the price is around $160.
That’s not cheap, but for music lovers and challenge seekers who want to bring out their inner rock star, Guitar Hero and Rock Band are well worth the splurge.

Salisbury High seniors Kaitlyn Cuevas and Leigha Hougland are interns for the Post.