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back to article How to be a failure at Guitar Hero III

Guitar Hero III and Rock Band are totally unavoidable in shopping trips to consumer electronics stores. As a guitar player for 40 years, I view the in-store demos of the games as primarily exercises in pitiless annoyance. What could be more embarrassing than people holding plastic toy guitars in public while trying to mime along …

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Er, no.

Sorry, but just because you stank at a game you had taken objection to even before you started playing does not mean that all 'real' guitarists are the same.

I play the guitar just fine, and I can play Guitar Hero pretty good, too - the skill from one does not help much with the skill for the other, they are pretty much 2 seperate skill sets, but being able to do one does not mean you can't do the other.

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Spot on

I can play a good 30% of the songs in GH3 note perfect on a real guitar, and another 40% I can play fairly well just by ear, and I've got to say this article "hits the right note" (ba-doom-tish).

Rather like the "Dance Dance" style games, where the skill in the game is mechanical (land on mat sensor at right time, regardless of whether you actually danced it or just lumped your feet correctly), GH3 is - unlike playing the guitar - a bit of a spiritless affair.

That said, it's still great fun, and as a guitarist of 20-odd years, it sure as hell is a lot more fun than holding a standard gaming controller playing yet another FPS.

Also, the freeware clone "Frets on Fire" (which turns your keyboard into an axe - seriously) is a lot of fun too.

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The problem with...

...Outrun 2006 Coast to Coast is that it inaccurately simulates the experience of driving several convertible Ferraris.

The problem with Grand Theft Auto is that it doesn't show enough of the hard work involved in apprehending violent criminals, especially, for instance, the sheer amount of paperwork involved.

The problem with Guitar Hero III is that it tries to be a frickin' game for people to enjoy, not, as you appear to want it to be, an unapproachable fretwank fest for musos.

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Happy

I thought it was just me

Heh heh ... I feel better now. I've played guitar for many years and Guitar Hero just completely baffles me, but I see, I'm not the only one!

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Anonymous Coward

Shock

It's a fucking game. A game. It doesn't have to - and isn't remotely supposed to resemble making real music.

Pointless article.

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Stop

Ahem....

OK, OK, someone tell me - how long do you have to keep plinking away until you get the BFG9k or the end-of-round boss? WHAT!?!? There's no EOB!?!?!? What kind of screwed up madness is this sh*t!??! Quick, load up Halo3 - ah, much better! Leave the stuffy PC world of "creative expressionism" and relax back into the real gamer's delirium of mindless violence....

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Really.

You expected accuracy and realism from a popular-market game?

Please.

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Stop

Its a game

I don't know why this reviewer expected this game to completely resemble playing a real guitar, if it did, what would be the point of it, you'd just pick up a real guitar.

Ok, we get it, you can play a guitar, well done. Now review the game based on the game, not on your desire to let everyone know through a game review that you learned the guitar.

Did I mention the guy can play a guitar?

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So what you are saying is...

...that because you did not get a grip of this simple game right away, you wanted to smash your living room up with the guitar? I see the Paris Hilton angle here - obviously written by a princess!

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Whew dodged a bullet there, thanks...

Much appreciated, I have just entered the foray into the world of PS2 (having been a PC gamer for years the price of the PS2 has finally come down to a viable level) and a guitarist for about 12 years I have been toying with the idea of getting this "Guitar Hero" game to play around with. The only real exposure I have had with it was the Snickers stage at the Download festival last year on Thursday nght with random members of the crowd going up on stage and trying to jam along to Megadeath and AC/DC and such like.

Needless to say the show was rubbish as all the players was doing was watching the screen monitor in front of them. (It took me about 15 minutes to figure out what was going on).

After reading this I am definately not going to consider such a game as I CAN play Megadeath and AC/DC on a real Marshall with my ESP and it rocks far more than a Playstation simulator could ever do.

Thanks

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Paris Hilton

Mate it is just a dancing game

Guitar hero is nothing else but a bloody dancing game like "Dance Dance Revolution" on the Playstation or the freeware StepMania on the PC.

Use your favorite p2p app, download and watch:

South park - Season 11 - Guitar-queer-o

http://www.tv.com/south-park/guitar-queer-o/episode/1145118/summary.html?tag=ep_list;ep_title;12

I had a big big big laugh watching this episode.

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Get over it!

"It's just a game!" While your commentary makes valid points, and I've felt the same way myself playing it, your review is like a fighter pilot whining about a video game experience not being the same as really being up there. I played GH III over the US Thanksgiving holiday, and while it's nothing like playing a guitar, it is addictive and fun--and what other game lets you listen to classics while participating to some degree--even if it is more like a glorified version of tapping your toes than actually playing... I think the ultimate satire can be found in the South Park episode where a talent scout recruits the boys to play Guitar Hero professionally.

Agreed that the time wasted on this game could be better spent learning to really play an instrument. As could time playing just about any video game be better spent on something more 'productive.'

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Stop having fun!

http://xkcd.com/359/

nuff said.

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No axe to grind

As a mediocre guitarist myself - I can strum a few chords, play a few songs and occasionally manage a solo - I have to say I find Guitar Hero to be pretty easy. I have no idea whether my guitar 'skills' help this or whether I just 'get it' in the same way that I have no idea whether if I bothered to practice by real axemanship every day I would be the next Slash. I was playing it last night with a couple of musicians (an oboist and a trombonist) who didn't seem to manage at all well with it so I was assuming it was my guitar experience which was carrying me through.

I guess Guitar Hero is to guitar what Dance Dance Revolution is to dancing. It's guitar music - the buttons you have to press change as the notes change, although granted not necessarily in the same way as the real world - but like DDR it's only guitar (or dancing) in the broadest sense of the term. What it is, though, is a lot of fun for a bunch of people with alcohol in their veins looking for a way to liven up a party and that's really all it ever pretended to be. It won't turn you into Slash - even if you beat him in the head-to-head - but it will give a you a certain amount of hand-eye and left-right coordination and help with pattern recognition and useful skills like that.

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Boffin

about right....

the authors got this about right - if you are a guitarist then it just 'doesnt work' as the skillsets dont match. if you are a bassist or drummer then it does match a little better (one facet of rock band is that the drumming can help you to become a drummer). however, you CAN play along with the music rather than the exact timing of the notes - you simply need to visit the preferences and change the timing - something store demos wouldnt be setup for. strangely GH also doesnt play as well as a party game - either people are put off by perceived requirements or nuances - singstar, dance dance revolution, mario party or Wii sports are far more favourable in a party session. (heck! even ISS pro or FIFA stand more chance of screentime than GH) - whether the same is true for a more inclusive game - Rock Band - is still to be seen by myself. however, I wouldnt be surprised if a more 'involved' guitar game that is evolved wont turn up - one that interfaces with a real guitar - the PS3 and xbox 260 both have the required power. would it be as successful as the 'Simon says, plastic gibson with 5 happy coloured buttons' gaming? I dont know.

but lets face it. the best games arent usually the ones with super realistic graphics that mimick the real world as best they can - a level of abstraction is required to make them more popular. plastic 5 buttons might just offer that abstraction....

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How to be a failure...

Next in the series:

"Car Driver reviews Burnout Paradise"

"Skeet Shooters review Halo"

"Plumbers review Mario Galaxy"

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Are you serious?

I can't believe in this article you would go as far aa comparing this to a real guitar experience. I myself am a guiarist but I know that this game is aimed at a younger gaming audience. Would you try to compare the violent game Manhunt or Grand Theft Auto to real life? No, because it is a fantasy world. This game is based at kids and maybe adults just seeking to have fun. Not hardcore guitarists.

-Prem

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It's a toy for under 14's

As a guitarist of 40 years I'm surprised you saw it as anything more. OK maybe you didn't and curiosity just got the better. I just would not even try to compare it to the real thing. There maybe other things in the Universe that are as diametrically opposed, but I struggle to think of them.

I wonder how a 12-14 year old expert at Guitar Hero may transfer those skills to a real wood and metal guitar. More a hindrance to real musicianship than an assist I would guess.

Your article reminded me of the first time I came across a Roland GR-707 at a trade show in Manchester 1983. I remember trying to play that like a real guitar, the time delay between plucking a string and hearing the sound made it almost impossible. By the time I had managed to time compensate, the queue of people waiting to try this new instrument had grown and was getting impatient. It was a strange feeling playing a drum kit via a guitar though. You can imagine my surprise when I handed the instrument to Mike Harding who was next in the queue.

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I'm glad I'm not the only one...

... who can't play this game to save their life. Not that really any good at real guitar, but a million times better than the sounds that I can convince this game to make.

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I know what you mean...

Just the other day I stuck my Halo3 disk in my 360 and jumped straight in to a level on the campaign that I just can't get past. It's not that it's too difficult, it's just not 'real' enough. Every time Master Chief unleashes a barrage of pink death from a needler I'm just left feeling flat. Without the kick that you get from the real thing I just feel like an idiot pretending to save the world.

It was the same when I was playing Crackdown. There I was leaping from building to building high above the carnage I'd just created on the streets below and all I could think was what a shame it was that so little attention to detail had went into my reloading technique. I mean, the last time I reloaded a bazooka whilst perched atop a billboard I very nearly fell off and there was just none of that excitement in the game.

Oh, wait.. that's right... it was a game and I didn't really expect it to resemble real life.

It seems a little bizarre that the main complaint here seems to be that pushing the six plastic buttons on the scaled down, plastic guitar-shaped controller in Guitar Hero III isn't actually the same thing as playing a real guitar with its six strings and no buttons.

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Hmmm...

Guitar Hero is not like playing a real guitar? Next thing you'll be telling me GTA III isn't like going out onto the street and shooting people. Oh wait...

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Anonymous Coward

Simon Says

Amplitude, Frequency, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero I/II/3... All are the same game... Simon Says press this button at this moment...

Here's a thought. Next time actually try playing it with earplugs...

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Audience Participation

My son learned to play piano well enough to do Fur Elise a couple years ago and more recently Gannendorf's Tower, but has no interest in continuing. He started fiddle lessons and was getting to know the instrument, but his interest has waned and hasn't touched it in a while.

He has conquered Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero III. He now knows the songs, he's marched through their performances note-by-note. His appreciation of rock music, at least, is growing.

And now he's interested in guitar lessons.

The article is interesting, reminds me of a South Park episode where the old man experiences similar sour grapes re Guitar Hero because he doesn't get the paradigm.

The bottom line is that to appreciate music, you do not have to play an instrument, you are allowed to be in the audience, but these days it is socially acceptable to expect the audience to participate. Guitar Hero is audience participation. So is Dance Dance Revolution.

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Filling the gap between listening and playing

If you've played guitar for 40 years, of course you're ready for a more intimate connection to music than provided by 5 fret buttons and a strum bar. But in case you've forgotten, playing guitar is really f*&^ing hard and requires tons of dedication. It takes years of playing to sound even reasonably competent at a guitar. If you want to sound good, it takes ten or twenty years. And how will people know that dedication is worth it if they don't get a taste? Most people will be done with a videogame in about 2 months. Radically different commitment levels. And even if people don't move on to other instruments, at least they develop an active ear for structural changes in music.

If you're the kind of person who is so absorbed in an instrument that you can devote large chunks of your life to it: that's great! This game is not necessarily for you. If you're a 35 year old investment banker trying to safely indulge in longtime fantasies of becoming a rockstar while still getting a soccer kid off to school on time: this game may be for you. If you have a young kid too lazy to go to weekly guitar lessons but you still want to instill in them an appreciation for musical structure and creation: this game may be for you.

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Boffin

It's a gateway drug!

Just a thought.. Is it possible that the game could be a gateway into music? The South Park episode is pretty funny, but here's the deal, if the Moe and Rons of the world can make a case for violent games leading to violent real world behavior, then couldn't a guitar game of huge popularity lead to real world musicians? And what better way to keep classic rock alive than getting a whole new generation excited about the same songs and listening to them over and over again?

And if the Moe Rons are correct about violent games, then it is a great game just by virtue of keeping kids off the hardcore stuff... Of course, I have never hit anyone in anger... And I am all about the FPS, but what do I know?

The "musician" "journalist" had an opportunity to talk about how this game could be very positive in reviving music in a way that has been missing for quite some time in modern teenagers and blew it... Guess it is better to bash the game and have kids listening to (c)rap music instead.

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DW

Maybe not a game for guitarists.

Your review is the same response to the game that I've heard from most of my guitar playing friends: it's nothing like playing a real guitar, so they don't like it. I don't really understand the complaint - as mentioned above, you wouldn't play a driving sim expecting to have to replace your broken rear tail light or be cut off by some idiot in a Mercedes, would you?

I don't play guitar, but do enjoy this game immensely. I'm fairly good with several other instruments, and once you get used to the game and the controller it's more or less like playing sheet music along with a band or orchestra. As with playing in an ensemble you have to stay in time, playing the right notes as your cues come up. The actual fingering isn't a transferable skill, but the improved sense of rhythm and good feel for music that comes with many years of group performance can be put to good use. The game is far easier to pick up than a real instrument, a good laugh to play with friends, and you get to pretend to be a rock star. I could hardly ask for more.

And MattBryant - there might not be a BFG, but there are several end of stage bosses including Slash and the devil (Lou).

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errm...

"Guitar Hero III and Rock Band are totally unavoidable in shopping trips to consumer electronics stores"

Considering the fact that Rock Band isn't out yet, I'd have to disagree

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South Park

You don't need p2p for South Park anymore - they put them all up online for free.

The Guitar Queer-O episode:

http://www.southparkzone.com/episodes/1113/Guitar-Queer-o.html

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Oh dear...

You completely missed the point of the game didn't you.

Nobody ever claimed Silent Scope was meant to simulate being a police marksman did they?

It's a rhythm game (so yes it requires hand eye coordination) with a guitar shaped controller. That's it.

If you play guitar you should have the pluck+fret action down (which people can find hard when learning either GH or guitar), and your pinky will be more adept at blue and orange than mine, but if you can't follow the rhythm game convention of hit the shape when it touches the line, then you're going to suck.

It's more like playing scored air-guitar than anything else, you get to strum along with songs most people could never play and when you perfectly hit the solo, or the song hits a crescendo it feels good.

Rock band multiplies this up by making it a group experience.

What you could do (just had this idea), is produce a USB A/D converter which takes a guitar phono plug and have this produce on the fly midi tracks which are compared in the background to pre-recorded midi track sync'd to the original mp3 which you can hear. Then you could play Real Guitar Hero.

Well if you'll excuse me I have to go write a review of Track and Field where I complain that as an Olympic runner I expected to be better at it...

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Slave Labour

What a pathetic little dig at China. Would sir prefer a nice Jackson or Kramer? - ASSEMBLED in America during their heyday, but from wood sourced in developing countries and shaped and produced in Japan and Korea.

China rarely employs slave labour. China almost never employs slave labour in association with western companies, and Chinese woodworkers can be as good or better than any "western" craftsmen or manufacturers.

Epiphone's guitars are crap and built to a price; pay more and you get a better model, but personally I can't stand the size of the neck on Gibsons or Epiphones. I have a Chinese-made Lamaq, which is rather good (the designer is a reasonably well-known luthier and player, and designed but did not manufacture the guitar).

Differing local economy does NOT equal slave labour. If you look at the figures for iPod "slave labour" the workers are paid "relatively" on a similar level to people doing the same work in Western economies.

Adnim: The GR 707 is perfectly playable, and if you kicked it into electric mode there's no delay. Whilst you may have found it impossible, you'll find people like Andy Summers had no problems! It was, after all, a real guitar and very well designed. Many, many skilled guitarists have mucked about with mine (now sold) and been utterly impressed with the instrument as an electric guitar, if not the synth system. Also, the GR 707/GR700 wasn't available in 1983 so if you saw one then it was almost certainly not a "finished product".

For unplayable "guitar controllers" the horrible, plastic DG-20 and DG-10 (MIDIless) Casio, which used plastic strings and sensors on the fretboard, demonstrated a genuine attempt to much with the guitar paradigm. And also would be far more suited to an educational, updated Guitar-Hero type package, with tab appearing at the bottom of the screen and sounds depending on correct string/finger placement and timing.

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What's the problem

I am really suprised that The Reg has published this review. Let's face it, it's A GAME it's not a learn to play guitar package.

My son, (15, in his own band, and a pretty good guitarist) has just finished it with a very good score (but he is very good at games too).

I am fairly good playing FPS games and can't play a musical instrument to save my life and am SH*T at this game.

I think the reviewer was more concerned with his failings than describing the game or it's features.

So let's have better reviews or we'll set the BOFH on you.

I bet the PFY would be very good at it!

Toonarmybarmy

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These Games Are For the same Air Guitar LOSERS

Learn a REAL INSTRUMENT, play it correctly and then join or start a REAL band. So even if you just play at a skanky bar for tips .... you're STILL 100 Times more REAL then the absolute best Guitar Hero / Rock Band player who is STILL in Fantasy-land AND STILL A LOSER like their predecessors who could only play Air Guitar.

See THAT'S the difference between Gamers and those those that take real chances in life, create REAL adventures like rock climbing, fishing, sky diving, join a REAL Army, or play a REAL Instrument.

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Stop

alright lame asses

playing the guitar and reading music are also two separate skills. I play trumpet, piano, drums and other stuff. I also read music fairly well. I can play guitar hero just fine. Reading music tends to help you with the guitar hero skills because your hand-eye coordination tends to be a bit tighter. Playing guitar is a hand-hand skill. How many guitarists do you know that actually read music?

Just because you suck at a video game doesn't mean you need to bash the game.

I can fix a leak just fine but that doesn't automagically mean I can rescue a princess.

Get over yourself and stick to solitaire.

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Paris Hilton

"As a guitar player for 40 years"

I sincerely hope that I am not like the reviewer, when I am fifty years old.

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Guitar Hero III

This xmas I bought PS2 Guitar Hero I in the nearby supermarket for €39. (£28)

This has a one piece (pretend) black guitar with a long USB lead, allegedly it is better than the GH3 two piece (pretend) white guitar which has connector issues between the head and the body, PLUS Wifi/wireless issues hence giving finger/note problems even when you hit the right fret note at the right time! I decided that wired was best.

Gameplay is OK on the PS2

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, but....

Was it fun? It's a game. Chill out Hillary.

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My daughter loves it

My daughter asked for GH3 for crimbo and has hardly been off it since, playing against all her friends online. She absolutely loves it.

Oh, she can also play a real guitar and bass.

It's just a game for crying out loud

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Unhappy

RE: DW

After a hard week of immoral salesmen, incompetent project managers, and incorrect products, I really need the soothing glow from a BFG round!

Slash? Who's Slash? There was this Guns 'N' Roses guitarist who was like a LEGEND, man, but no way would he ever sell out and put his name to some commercialised plastic guitar simulator....

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Anonymous Coward

It's not *completely* different

Personally I find that the more complicated the song, the closer it resembles playing real guitar. Of course the game is very different, it's a computer game, but if you try some of the harder pieces on the more difficult settings then some of the skills are shared. The finger tapping in 'Bark at the Moon' on GH I is a good example.

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Alert

musical wankers

If I find myself with some time on my hands, I certainly won't be wasting it on learning guitar, drums, piano, or any other musical instrument where it takes years of practice to become merely mediocre.

Instead, I'll be coding, riding my motorcycle, or hey, maybe playing a fun game with a couple of friends. And I won't be worrying over if it's a real guitar & drum set, or if there are actually aliens coming to invade the Earth. Imagine that.

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Happy

fishing? Adventure?

you're kidding, right?

BTW GHIII on the wii rocks!

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PT

My wife loves it too

Sometimes she stays up half the night pushing her scores up by another 20,000 each song, then crawls into bed at dawn and wakes me up to brag about it. I've been playing guitar for decades and she plays no instruments, but I can't keep up with her at GH3.

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Ros

A wasted opportunity?

If they're going to have keyboard-style controls, why don't they bring out a "Keyboard Hero" as well? In other words, something along the same lines that actually builds up to teaching you to play the piano? That would be better.

I'm always surprised at the reluctance of games creators to make anything that's remotely useful to anyone. I'm a parent, and I'm always looking hard for games that have useful side-effects like teaching something my kid needs to know, or keeping him fit. Most console games are the enemy of thought, useless time-fillers designed to hook, frustrate and slobbify. But they needn't be.

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Faith in humanity...

...restored! Or at least my faith in the El Reg comment faithful. Or something.

Get over yourself, "dude", it's a frick'n game.

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It's a game...

The idea behind the game is to allow people to go through the motions of playing along with their favourite songs. I'm sure if it were so realistic that a guitarist of 40 years would find their real-life skills utilised, the rest of the non-musician population would be alienated.

I play the guitar, have done for 7 years. I also play the drums. I had a go on the drum version of the game in the US and lo and behold, being a drummer gave me no head start on the 8 year old who tried it out after me in the shop. And that's exactly how it should be: it's a game.

Do you need to be a racing driver to play Gran Turismo? Do you need to have been in the SAS to appreciate Call of Duty? No. The purpose of computer games is to give you the experience of some activity without actually exposing you to all the (often) gory details. If the author of this article would prefer a game with the challenge "hit all the notes in the aeolian mode to continue!" then he should write one, and see how it fares against GH3; not well, I'll bet.

In any case, don't worry that your guitar skills aren't immediately transferrable to this game. I'm sure that by following the same logic, you can also immediately play the bass, banjo, sitar, ukulele, or kantele. Go for it.

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Paris Hilton

chocolate yorkie bars

I been to more than a few party's in the last month and all have had a version or other of this game. The girls DO wait for a turn, along with the boys.

Myself I haven't tried it, not my sort of game, I watch for a while but think if I turned the music off looks like a shooting aliens game.

blip blip blip blip whooo whooo

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Not simply Missing but Missed the point....

What a stupid article. Well I've got news for you, no game is like the real thing be it Guitars, Racing, or War. Playing Colin McRae Dirt is not like driving a rally car around a forest track. Playing F1 is not like racing around silverstone, playing Manhunt is not like running around a street with an axe. Playing Guitar Hero III is not like playing a guitar..

That doesn't prevent any of them from being entertaining, and just because its not a real guitar doesnt make it any more ridiculous than playing any other game with a plastic controller.

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Ros

Konami (with their Bemani branch) was in the rhythm game business a long time before Harmonix / Red Octane. They've had their own guitar / drums games - GuitarFreaks and DrumMania - for many years in Japan (and a few other places which import the arcade machines). They did make a keyboard game, called KeyboardMania. It went through two arcade revisions and had one console version, then it died. It simply wasn't very popular.

GF and DM are incredibly popular and have been through about 15 revisions each by now. Harmonix and Red Octane are very aware of Bemani stuff, so I'm sure they're aware of the relative success of GF/DM and KeyboardMania. Which is why they didn't make a keyboard game.

On girls and boys, I'm with Tony. Had a dinner party on Christmas Eve, with mostly women in attendance. Party broke up at 6 a.m. after ten solid hours of Rock Band.

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