Perhaps lost in the bustle of Rock Band Beatlemania, the latest (and definitely greatest) installment of Guitar Hero was unleashed upon buyers earlier this month.
GH 5 marks the 12th(!) franchise release, and it's packed with an 85-song set list that features Johnny Cash, Nirvana, Muse, Queen, David Bowie and many more. By far the broadest set list of any of the previous Guitar Hero games, there's something for everyone from Coldplay to the Rolling Stones. There's also an option (for a small fee, of course) to transfer tracks from Guitar Hero : World Tour into this game along with any downloaded songs you've acquired along the way.
GH5 eclipses what many considered rushed or uneven about GH: World Tour's design and playability. While GH:WT was an attempt to close the gap between GH and Rock Band (by adding the full band features) it felt more like an attempt to stay current rather than create a solid game. In GH 5 these elements are fully implemented with additions that serve to advance the music game genre.
The most notable advancement is the Party Play option. No more fumbling around with the sign-in screen when you play the game in a group. The game loads up like a jukebox, with the songs cycling in the background. Press one button and you can start whatever song is playing at that moment. Another perk is that players can now enter and exit the song without ever having to exit back through the main menu.
Recently, the Guitar Hero 5 developers have been embroiled in a bit of controversy surrounding the playability of Kurt Cobain as one of the characters (Johnny Cash, Carlos Santana and Matt Bellamy of Muse are also playable). The whole brouhaha stems from the fact that once unlocked, Cobain can play any song by any artist, not just the Nirvana tracks. Is Kurt Cobain singing "Sex On Fire" an act of sacrilege? Yes, according to fellow Nirvana band mates, Dave Grohl and Krist Novaselic who are calling for Activision to have the character re-locked, and Courtney Love who's talking about suing the company.
While some artists bemoan the entire existence of music games, they have become a mainstream portal for consuming and enjoying music. It's hard to disagree with kids and teenagers being exposed to classic artists like the Stones and Peter Frampton alongside newer acts like Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, as long as they do their homework first, of course.