'Guitar Hero Live' Brings More Realism to Digital Rock Stardom

Watch the crowd react to your fancy fretwork in 'Guitar Player Live.'
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It has been five years since air guitarists the world over became instant 'rock gods' thanks to Guitar Hero, the multimillion-selling music game series by Activision. Guitar Hero Live, announced on April 14, continues the rock stardom experience with more realism, including real-time reactions from band members and the crowd, depending on the player's performance.

The game's new controller (shown here) is designed to more closely resemble real guitar playing. The five-color button fret board has been replaced with this six-button controller. “The new configuration came from the desire to give the fret hand something to do that’s closer to what a real guitarist does,” said Freestyle founder and creative director Jamie Jackson. “With two rows of buttons, the player’s fingers are now making chord shapes. The challenge is to get your fingers into the correct position rather than just running them up and down the neck as fast as you can.” The controller does still have the strum bar and a whammy bar.

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The game will reportedly ship with "hundreds" of licensed tracks, and will also allow players to access extra songs. Players can showcase their skills worldwide in multiplayer competitions via a new Guitar Hero TV service, touted by Activision as “the world’s first playable live music video network.”

The company has ditched the cartoonish graphics of performers onstage for a first-person view from a guitarist's onstage perspective. UK developers, Freestyle Games, created a completely immersive experience with real-life footage of band members and the crowd reacting to their awesome (or not so awesome) performance in real-time. Take a look: 

Though Guitar Hero Live is set to launch on PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U, reportedly it will not require a television or a console as now players can shred on their smartphone and tablet, using the same guitar controllers. Activision has said that it will provide more details on those versions at a later date. No firm launch dates have been announced, though it is expected this fall.