GHLIVEPS4.jpgSince 2005 when Guitar Hero made its debut on the PlayStation 2, the series has captured the hearts of fans worldwide. After a five-year hiatus, the beloved Guitar Hero franchise is back and better than ever with the latest release—Guitar Hero Live.

Giving you the thrill of being a rock star by playing in front of real crowds, Guitar Hero Live features a new guitar controller, a steady supply of music online that is constantly updated, and two new gameplay modes—GH Live and GHTV. Guitar Hero Live is ready to take over your living room once again.

Game Details

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Developer: FreeStyleGames
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Genre: Music, Rhythm
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A brand new redesigned guitar

guitar.jpgRight out of the box, you’ll notice that the guitar controller has been redesigned. The five coloured buttons have been replaced with a new six-button layout that consists of three black buttons on top of three white buttons. This new 6-button layout makes it easier for beginners who use only three buttons, and offers a challenge for experts who will have to master the use of all six buttons.

The strum bar, whammy bar, and large button to activate Hero Powers all make their return to the resigned controller. To make things easier, you can also activate Hero Powers by using the guitar controller’s built-in tilt sensor. In addition, a button to access the new GHTV mode whenever you want has been added to the face of the new guitar.

To be honest, I was a little worried that the new button layout wouldn’t feel right. Boy was I wrong! The new guitar controller fit perfectly into my hands, whereas previous guitar controllers required the use of your pinky finger when playing the new design completely eliminates the need for this. Thank goodness!

Overall, the new guitar is well constructed, has a nice weight to it, and is designed to fit perfectly in your hands. For those wondering, yes the popular strum bar clicking noise that you know and love is back.

Two new gameplay modes 

Guitar Hero Live offers two new revolutionary gameplay modes, GH LIVE and GHTV. Let’s take a look at what makes each of these two new gameplay modes different from previous Guitar Hero games.


Guitar Hero Live_Sounddial 3.jpgThe first new gameplay mode of Guitar Hero Live is called GH Live, containing 42 songs; you play the position of the lead guitarist in a series of fictional bands from varying genres. As the lead guitarist, you can play in two different festivals. Either UK’s biggest outdoor festival, SoundDial, or Rock the Block, America’s most prominent music event. Ranging from Skrillex, Katy Perry, to Soundgarden, the track list in GH LIVE has something for everybody.

Whereas previous Guitar Hero games used traditional graphics to represent your bandmates, the developers opted to use full motion video (FMV) of fictional bands playing in front of a live crowd. To immerse you in the rock star experience, as the lead guitarist, you’re treated to a first-person view of the huge crowds that surround you on stage.

You’ll start out each three-song set backstage with your band getting setup with the stagehand, or conversing with your bandmates before the show. As you walk out on stage in front of thousands of fans, you’ll hear the roar of the crowd that will send shivers down your spine. The camera will dip and dive across the stage with your character as you play through the song.

GHLive Bandmates.jpgAdding to the realistic on-stage experience, your fans will react instantaneously to how well, or not so well, you play. If you’re hitting most of the notes, you’ll see the crowd go crazy for you and your bandmates will acknowledge your stellar performance with smiles and head nods. On the other hand, if you drop too many notes the crowd will start booing, and your bandmates will start getting mad at you. Surprisingly, the FMV fits nicely together to give you a real sense of presence and atmosphere.

If you’re looking for multiplayer action, then you will want to try out quickplay. This sub mode of GH Live contains all the same 42 songs and allows for a second guitar and vocals. By hooking up a USB microphone, a vocal track will appear above your guitar’s note highway. My family and I had loads of fun with quickplay; we literally spent hours on end competing against each other for the ultimate fan approval rating. 

Truthfully, if you’re looking to play Guitar Hero Live for the sole purpose of singing, I wouldn’t recommend it just yet. As it stands right now, you still have to have a guitar connected for the vocals to appear on screen.


GHTV Video1.jpgThe second new gameplay mode is called GHTV, which completely ditches the traditional approach to song DLC. Guitar Hero Live’s online-only playable streaming music video network will treat you to all kinds of gameplay experiences that just weren’t possible in the past. Essentially, GHTV is a channel-based system, which currently hosts two playlists that change every 30 minutes.

Just like turning on your TV, you simply select one of the current music channels on GHTV and jump right in. The great part about GHTV, is that you don’t have to be an Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus member to access it. GHTV is always expanding, and is continuously updated on a regular basis with fresh songs from your favourite artists.

Music videos play in the back background as you compete against other players from around the world, all with a similar skill level as you. For added fun your family and friends can join in by connecting another guitar and USB microphone for vocals. By playing and competing in these channels, you will earn in-game currency credits. You’ll earn anywhere from 100 to 200 credits per song depending on how well you did, and you can earn credits for completing challenges and ranking up.

Capture.JPGWhat can you buy with the credits that you have earned? For starters, you can use credits to purchase plays—the opportunity to play GHTV songs on-demand. You also have the option to use your credits to customize your note highway and even your playercard. You can also purchase a 24-hour unlimited on-demand “party pass” using real money. This is a great idea if you’re throwing a party or having friends over on a Friday or Saturday night. You can choose and play from hundreds of songs without having to wait for your favourite song. 

If you don’t want to play the channels to earn credits, you can purchase Hero Cash using real money. By purchasing Hero Cash, you can redeem it for the in-game currency. Here’s a little secret, if you just play the music channels not only will you have fun, but also you can easily earn credits without having to spend real money. I have literally played more than 30 hours of GHTV, and not spent a single dime.

Another component of GHTV is GHTV Premium, these premium shows range from special live concert footage to new music videos. You can access GHTV Premium by completing basic challenges such as getting three stars on a specific song, or you can get instant access by using Hero Cash. Premium shows run for a limited amount of time and are swapped out with new premium shows on a regular basis. Again, you’re not forced to spend money to unlock these premium shows but have the option to do so if you choose to.

 Final thoughts

Guitar Hero Live returns to its roots and focuses on what made the series great—playing the lead guitar.
The redesigned guitar makes it easier than ever for those new to the series to pick up and play and at the same time gives Guitar Hero veterans a new challenge to master. Thanks to the five different difficulty levels in Guitar Hero Live learning how to use the new guitar controller and playing the game for the first time for my wife and children was a breeze.

Both GH Live and GHTV offer fresh new experiences that you, your family, and friends will enjoy. Let me know in the comments section below which gameplay mode you are enjoying or are looking forward to the most.

+ The new guitar design makes Guitar Hero Live easy to pick up and play
+ Approximately 200 online songs (GHTV) at launch
+ GHTV is a continuously updated with your favourite songs, and is a great place to discover new music
+ PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold are not required to play GHTV on their respective platforms
+ Fun to play for all skill levels

– GH Live career mode is single player only
– Must complete all single-player sets in career mode to unlock all on-disc songs in quickplay mode


Gameplay: 4/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 5/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5

Overall Rating 4.5/5 (90%)

Jon Scarr

By Jon Scarr, Gaming

Jon is a 30+ year veteran of the video game industry who has been gaming since before the NES era. Combined, he has over 27,000 followers on social media, averaging over 150,000 impressions per month across his blog, Vine, Twitter, Twitch, and Instagram accounts. Visit Jon at his website 4scarrsgaming. Come join the conversation, find Jon on Twitter at @4scarrs_gaming.   

Jon Scarr
Jon is the Gaming Editor and is based in Toronto. He is a proud Canadian who has a serious passion for gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry with over 20 years experience. You can often find Jon streaming the latest games on his YouTube channel. Jon loves to talk about gaming and tech, come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Threads @4ScarrsGaming and @4Scarrsgaming on Instagram.