Tapping along to music is fun, and we have all been tapping our feet along to various beats for centuries. Guitar Hero Live is just the latest game to continue this fine tradition, but its free fun does not last long.
Evolving the musical fun
Guitar Hero Live’s basic premise on mobile will be instantly familiar to music game fans. Notes scroll down various tracks of the on screen highway, and it is up to you to hit them in time to the beat. Chaining these together nets you a higher score, while charging your special lets you unleash a further multiplier bonus for a limited period of time.
Guitar Hero Live progresses the action beyond just taps though, with multi-touch, slides, and swipes all required to earn you a five star score. This all feels quite responsive - even on a smaller screens - until you reach the higher difficulties. Then even the most nibble and narrow figures may find themselves tripping up. Fortunately, if you have a full guitar controller, you can sync it up with the app to play – though this is probably only recommended if you can feed the video out to a monitor.
So, the basics are essentially unchanged, but what about the rest of the package? Well, it all begins well, with a slick interface that lets you simply select between the Live and TV modes. Live is not actually live of course, instead this is the name of the main campaign mode, while TV give you access to an online service of constantly playing songs that you can play along with.
How big and how much!?!
With gameplay basically the same between each of these modes only real difference is in their presentation. Under the TV mode, songs' music videos play along with the music, unchanging with your performance, so that the only feedback offered is through visual cues on the note highway and occasional flat notes when you mess up.
Live is more complete in its feedback. Along with the previously mentioned indicators, this mode also features a video of you playing with a band in first person, looking out at a cheering or booing audience depending on your performance. It’s a nice touch but, even playing on a TV, watching the crowd's mood change is a challenge if you want to keep up with the action – on mobile devices its near impossible.
Everything should be great then, providing you don’t got to expert difficulty, but publisher Activision has managed to put a real sting in Live's tail. Downloading this 2GB app (!) only gives you access to two tracks – one in Live and one in TV. If you want more you will have to download the full game – not individually priced micro-transactions per track but the full, premium, $50 game. And that is a bit too much to ask.
Too much for too little
This Guitar Hero Live download is a trail version, and it should perhaps be more upfront about that fact – particularly with the size of the download and the price to upgrade. The two tracks are certainly fun to play, but clearing space on my phone and then downloading the 2GB file was more trouble than I would go to were I not reviewing it - especially as I have no intention of spending $50 on it. All that said, if you buy the guitar bundle and can stream this out to a TV, this is a great portable way to take Guitar Hero to parties.