The forthcoming iteration of Activision’s Guitar Hero franchise, Guitar Hero Live, is not just the series’ first installment in five years, but a major overhaul that promises a less cartoonish, more realistic experience of rock and roll glory. In a new behind-the-scenes video, the developers at FreeStyleGames talk about tapping into their own passion for live music and how that influenced everything from Guitar Hero Live‘s first-person gameplay perspective to its shreddable guitar controller.
While it may be tough to bid farewell to such beloved characters as Johnny Napalm, Judy Nails and Scandinavian death metal overlord, Lars Ümlaüt, Guitar Hero Live has placed the actual player at the center of the game. Instead of using animation, FreeStyleGames used live action video to replicate the actual concert experience, placing a roving camera onstage alongside real musicians and in front of a rabid crowd.
An added benefit of filming actual musicians and audience members was the ability to incorporate realtime reactions that gauge the quality of the performance alongside the traditional accumulation of points. It certainly ratchets up the existential pressure, as FreeStyle creative director and studio head Jamie Jackson notes: “If you start dropping notes and messing it up, not only are the crowd gonna turn on you, but so are your band members as well, because you’re effectively ruining their career as well as your own.”
Another new Guitar Hero Live feature is GHTV, a 24-hour music video network that will let users tackle a whole slew of songs whenever they want, either solo or with others. The game will launch with two channels boasting selections from a wide array of genres that the developers hope will also encourage fans to discover new types of music.
Lastly, FreeStyleGames completely redesigned the Guitar Hero controller, turning to the original method of becoming a “guitar hero”: Playing air guitar. As Jackson demonstrates, the new axe does away with the color-coded buttons and instead features two rows of three buttons stacked on top of each other. The new layout allows players to formulate chord-like shapes and, most importantly, let their fingers really fly when it comes time for that face melting solo.
Activision and FreeStyleGames celebrated the forthcoming Guitar Hero Live with a star-studded event at the Best Buy Theater in New York City earlier in April. The event boasted appearances from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, both of whom showed off the new game by playing their own hits. Guitar Hero Live is scheduled to see release this fall.