Monthly Archives: November 2008

I’ve decided, due to Amazon’s gracious return policy, to return the game, and get my money back.   While the documentation I’ve done as to the quality of the hardware is pretty in-depth, that’s not the reason I’m returning the game.

As you may know, from my earlier posts, my first drumkit was defective.   The second one did the same, so I contacted RedOctane to get the Midi to USB cable to use the tuning software they have, in hopes that maybe the second drumkit is a bit better.   After 9 days of waiting, it came today at work.   So I hooked it up when I got home, did the tuning, and played through about a dozen songs on drums. While it fixed the main bug (the snare wouldn’t respond when hit at the same time as the hi hat), it did not fix the same problem with the ride/crash cymbal, or any of the toms.   More or less rendering the drum part of the game useless.

That, in conjunction with the problems with the game itself, pushed me over the edge.   The game is almost $200, it’s not cheap. For it to be that imperfect, twice, out of the box, says something.

So, I packed it up, and will be dropping it back at UPS again tomorrow morning.   A shame, really.   Don’t get me wrong, I love Rock Band.   I love any game that I get to play a plastic guitar, or drums, or plastic anything.   I’m not a Rock Band fanboy, by any means, and that game has nothing to do with my decision to return Guitar Hero World Tour.   I’m returning the game because I don’t like it, and I don’t feel like it lives up to the hype that it’s getting online.

I’d be willing to bet that any website you read a positive review of the game on, is probably getting some form of a kickback for selling copies of the game. Whether it be affiliate links, or a direct payment from the makers, who knows.   But if you play the game, and pay attention, you’ll see how poorly it’s made.

The thing I noticed tonight, the most, is that the characters in the game aren’t really playing the instruments the way they’re supposed to.   I don’t know if I noticed that because I’ve been playing instruments for more than half my life, or if I’ve seen too many videos before MTV stopped playing them.   It’s evident that Guitar Hero World Tour is not made by musicians.   It’s like when you’re watching a music video, and you think to yourself “I think the guitar player’s faking it”, or “the drummer’s off beat.”   It’s the same thing with the game, but all the time. The only time I noticed the drummer was “right”, was at the very beginning of every song, when he clicked the sticks together four times, to count into the song.   It’s the little things, like that, that bugged me about the game.

I would have been happy to keep the game, and play it a lot, striving to finish the achievements for Xbox Live, like I do with most every game I play, but I just couldn’t.   I don’t want to rehash all the things I didn’t like about the game. You can read those below, in the other posts.

Guitar Hero used to be it.   My, how the mighty have fallen.

I got tired of the old design for this site, so I updated to a new theme.   Still modifying it completely, but here it is.

Also, I had to move the photos from the old gallery into a WordPress powered one, which was a pain.   So, while the images now have the ability to have titles and descriptions, they mostly don’t (aside from the RockBand BandMate gallery).   I’ll be doing that over the next few weeks/months, and will do it as I add more galleries.

Hope you enjoy the new design as much as I do.   I’ll probably get bored with it in a few months, anyway. So if you hate it, come back in a little bit, and there’ll most likely be something new.

I’m sick, so I stayed home from work today.   After taking a nap, and feeling slightly better, I decided to try to finish the “single” tour, playing guitar, in Guitar Hero World Tour.

I was 81% done last time I turned the game off.   When I started today, I was somehow 79% done, go figure.

I had two sets left to go, each 6 songs.   I went through the first, on Expert, as I had been playing, without any issues.

The second set, I failed out of the Motorhead song, but passed it the second time. I failed out of B.Y.O.B. a whole bunch of times, so I dropped down to Hard, to get by that.   Same thing for Mr. Crowley (talk about a hard solo).

I got through Trapped Under Ice from Metallica, on Expert, without failing, which surprised me.

So, I finish the game, and play the “encore” (flying through the sky being pulled on a stage by giant eagles? Seriously, lay off the drugs Activision), which was fun. Pull Me Under, from Dream Theater. One of my favorite songs, from my absolute favorite band.     I was happy.

I got through it, backed out of the game, and saw that it registered 96% done.   Huh? I just watched the credits, how is that possible?   So, I went back through and did the “make your own gig” 6 song set list. Maybe I had to do that, to get to 100%.

Finished. No change.   I can only assume I didn’t get 100% because I didn’t finish the last set on Expert.   According to the Xbox achievements I won, I “completed the guitar tour on hard”, which is bogus.   I completed every song on Expert, except 2.

The way the game’s set up, there’s no way to know which songs I finished on which difficulty. (Unlike the more superior plastic-instrumented game, where you can clearly see which level of difficulty you played the song on.)   So I have no idea which songs I’d need to go back and play, should I want to do it in the future, for that award.

The bottom line: this game feels more like a chore, than a fun interactive game.   Activision tried, and came up short of the mark.   Those other game makers, at the better company set a pretty high bar, and Activision missed it, by a lot.   I’m still baffled why GHWT is getting such good reviews on Amazon.   The game play is cartoony, the “guitar heros” (Hendrix, Sting, Travis Barker, and Ozzy) aren’t even real guitar heros (except for maybe Hendrix), the songs are mostly unknown (except for those songs that people recognize because they were already in a plasticy-instrumented game earlier this year), and the setlists are stupid.

Let’s gripe about the setlists, shall we?   You see a setlist in the “gig view”, with more than 3 songs, and click on it, to start playing it.   You get the option to “play this whole gig”, but can only see the first three songs in the gig. So, if you want to see the whole thing, you have to back out to the “gig view” again, and view them.   Bad UI.

There are no “random” setlists.   There are no “mystery” setlists. And there’s only one “create your own” setlist.

I looked through the available achievements for Xbox Live.   One of them is to get $1,000,000 in career earnings.   Talk about stupid.   The most I earned from a song, playing on Expert guitar, was $1,250.   And that was solo. I’m sure the earnings would have been less had I had to split them with a whole band.   At that rate, I’d have to play 800 songs to get to a million.   And the game only has 85 tracks.   So, to get to a million, I’d have to 5 star every song, 10 times.   The songs just aren’t that good. I have no desire to play the majority of them again. (Although Hot For Teacher, Beat It, and La Bamba were all fun to play.)

Guitar Hero II was awesome. Guitar Hero III was awesome, albeit a bit too challenging.   Guitar Hero Aerosmith was a complete joke.   Guitar Hero World Tour is subpar for the industry.   If you want to stay in the game, Activision, you’ve got to step it up.   Whoever you fired between Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero Aerosmith was the key to you guys making good games.

I’d write my bit here about how much I liked/disliked the drum tour.   But since I’m on my second defective drumkit, I can’t.   I filed a second RMA almost a week ago, and haven’t heard back yet.   Activision must be backed up with tens of thousands of other people with broken stuff.   Sad, really.   Regardless, I have no desire to go back and play any of this game again, even if they do replace the defective drums for me, at no cost.   I’ll be packing the game up, and probably dumping it on eBay, like hundreds of other people, from what I’ve seen.

Save your $180, or buy the other, better game instead.   Those guys know how to do it right.   Activision, you’re embarassing yourself, and enraging “fans” of your games.   Stop it.   Or you won’t sell very many copies of whatever crapfest you put out next, and call a game.

I was pleased when the FedEx man dropped off an unexpected package yesterday.   After all, I may not remember everything I’ve bought, but I certainly like getting packages.

I looked at the return address: ZCorp. Which I know, from my wife’s employment at Harmonix, is the company who prints the Bandmates, which I’d ordered more than 4 weeks ago.

I had already seen some of them in person, because they sent samples of tons of them to Harmonix, which Christine brought home. (There’s two samples in my cube at work, if anyone wants to see one in person, before buying.)

I am happy to report that the quality on the “real” bandmate is much superior to the samples we’d had.   The real one is amazing.   I took some really close up, high resolution shots, which can be seen here.

If you’re skeptical to drop $70 to get one of these things, here’s my word of advice:

Get your character exactly how you want in the game, and wait 2 weeks for it to update to the website.   Then order one.   These are the coolest collectible items you’ll own in a long time. (Unless you steal the original R2D2 from Lucas, in which cause, kudos.)

For those that read the first impression post,   here’s an update:

The game itself has gotten slightly more fun.   Not any less confusing, but at least somewhat challenging.   I’ve yet to even come close to failing a song on Expert guitar, but there’ve been some tricky parts. (On a side note, I don’t think I’ve ever used “there’ve” before. Fun times.)

Now, the drums:

Their support finally got back to me, and said they’d send me a MIDI to USB cable, so I could use their “tuning software”, which would fix my issue.

I didn’t want to wait 3-6 weeks for it, because (if you know me, you know) I’m totally impatient.   So, I picked up one myself at Radio Shack, and tried it out.

Fail.

Back to Radio Shack to return. (Thanks Mom.)

I finally get the “support” guy to give me the okay to file an RMA, and he sends me the URL.   I fill it out Thursday, October 30th, at 7:42AM EST.

I get a response, today (November 2nd) at 11:09AM, telling me that yes, I can send my drums in. Please ensure I pay postage both ways, and wait for 2-3 weeks while they “test” my drums.

I respond with a “Are you f’ing kidding me?” (albeit a little more verbose than that.) to their suggestion I pay for shipping both ways.

I get home from my mom’s, where I was re-hooking up her electronic gear after having it removed to install new carpet in her house, and check out the Guitar Hero forums.   Hundreds of people pissed off about this as well. Many who simply returned the defective hardware to the store.   I even found one guy that tried 8 different versions of the hardware, then eventually got his money back from Best Buy.   Unreal.

So, I did what anyone would do, I went to Amazon’s site, and checked out their return policy.   Technically, I ordered it more than 30 days ago, but they only shipped in last week, so I’m safe.

I filled out a few short fields on a form, and in seconds I had a pre-paid printed label to return my defective item to them, a new copy being shipped to me, and a complete RMA completed.   It took me about 6 minutes total, 15 if you count packing up the broken game back into its box. (Glad I hadn’t tossed that yet.)

So, attempt two should be here sometime this week.   If that, also, is broken, I’ll be sending it back for a full refund. I’m not going to spend time shipping things back and forth, and hoping to get one that isn’t broken.   I’ll just go buy a copy of the game, and use any one of the other plastic instrument controllers I have. (6 plastic guitars, 3 plastic drumsets, 2 plastic microphones, FYI.)

Check back for an update when I get the second copy of the game later this week.   If it’s broken, there’s going to be hell to pay.   Ever heard of QA RedOctane? It’s the process where you test stuff you have made in China, before shipping it.   Maybe give it a whirl for your next game, eh?