I picked up Guitar Hero Live (GHL) the other day on the advice of Chris Scullion. He compared GHL and Rock Band 4 (RB4) and to cut to the chase, I picked GHL because it has my all time favorite song (Always With Me Always With You by Joe Satriani).
Last generation I was on the RB side of the fence. There was very little difference between them other than the set lists. RB let you import old songs from previous games and had a lot of Bang Camaro tracks. At the same time GH was going down hill with poor choices in tracks and generally not doing anything interesting. Mechanically RB didn't really change but at least it had a very solid set list.
2015 rolls around and it's time to restart the rhythm based music genre. RB4 does it's thing which is basically more of the same with a boring set list where as GHL refocuses on guitars and has a shiny new controller (see below).
What's that? Two "strings"? Only 3 buttons per "string"? WAAAAAAT? I was initially not so hot on this but I remembered my crap pinky performance (even after years of real guitar) and decided to go for it. Three buttons turns out to be a great move. No needlessly annoying stretches. The second string adds more fun with bar chords and multi-string chords (that sounds so stupid). I wouldn't want more than two strings really without increasing the width of the controller neck.
The notating is black upwards facing picks for the lower (pitch) string and white downward facing picks for the higher string, simple enough. I've acclimatized quickly to this and can nail all the songs on the medium difficulty. Bar chords and open notes it adds some new challenge that 5 buttons on one string just couldn't give. I'm currently tackling the hard difficulty and it is a fun experience. It's just the right level of challenging.
So mechanically it's very sound. Playing the notes is fun. What more can you ask for? Turns out you can ask for a lot more.
First off we have the set list. The game is called Guitar Hero. They even dropped the drums. The focus is supposed to be on being a cool guitarist. Why do we have Skrillex, Katy Perry and Eminem on the list? I'm not saying it's bad music. It's just not Guitar Hero music. Compare the GHL set list to the GH2 set list. GH2 evokes Guitar Heroes. The set list for GHL definitely does not. Hell there are even moments when the highway goes away because there are no notes to play. NO NOTES FOR THE GUITARIST IN A GAME CALLED GUITAR HERO!
While browsing the GHL set list you'll notice there aren't many tracks on the disk. In fact in no time at all you'll blaze through all the tracks. You'll have experienced all the naff live action backgrounds which frankly are a waste of time. You'll feel ripped off. Do not worry! Guitar Hero TV (GHTV) is here to save the day! It's a web based service where you play along with fictional music TV channels. Woo!
Do you get to choose what you play? Not really. Playing songs earns you points (or by paying real world money) which lets you select specific songs to play. Once. Yeah. Shitty. So if I want to learn how to nail that Satch song I have to grind out points or drop more cash. That's bullshit. You'll notice most of the songs are hidden in this mode. So the chances are the song you want to play is behind this annoying wall.
The final nail in the coffin is there is no practice mode. I can't slow down the harder tracks to learn them. I have to play them at full speed and only for as long as I can keep spending points (or cash) to play them. That's utter shit. It's very clear that this mode isn't in the game because they want you to spend points (cash, dollar dollar bills) to play your favorite songs.
Do I recommend it? At £45 for the game and controller I don't feel ripped off because I feel I'll play it for a while. I'll play it for the few songs I do like. I'll play it because the loop of "pressing the right buttons at the right time" is satisfying. However I hate the payment model they've embedded in it. What it boils down to is, are there songs you want to play?