Now, I wouldn't say I'm a Rock Band fanboy, because I don't really care, but if it came to Neversoft vs. Harmonix I'd go with Harmonix hands down EVERY time.
I've felt Guitar Hero going down the drain ever since Neversoft took reigns of the series, making it unnecessarily difficult, absolutely decimating any art style the series had. Guitar Hero 3 was decent, I liked a few songs, World Tour wasn't bad, it just wasn't good by any means(IN MY OPINION). But this, they hit the nail on the head.
The graphics to start, from videos I assumed it was on a new engine, and I still thought so until I got to the character creator and noticed a LOT of the same clothes(not a problem, what few options they did add I was very satisfied with). Anyway, they just revamped the shit out of it. The not-so-subtle grain effect looks great, the slight camera wobble, and my favorite, the animations.
Every song has it's own theme(pop, metal, etc.) and the characters move on stage accordingly, now I've beaten career and played roughly 60 out of the 85 songs on the disc, every theme looks amazing, fluid, no snapping, and especially no robotic movements. They also added depth of field blur, which goes great with everything mentioned above, I saw a scene where it was showing me from the side, and the vocalist closer to the camera, and the bassist even closer. Camera slightly wobbling, blur applied, animations perfect all around.
Aside from graphics, I feel the note charts get a big plus from me this time around. I don't like the stuff they added in WT where you hold down a chord and keep hitting notes, usually more chords, but those make a return, whatever. The thing though is that the songs aren't stupid easy, but they aren't migraine-inducingly difficult either! Now, I'm not the best at rhythm games, but I managed to pass Spirit of the Radio by myself, and that made me extremely proud of myself, seeing as how I can only get through about half of the songs in the Impossible playlist in Rock Band 2(after the importing of RB1 songs and DLC of course..). Now Scatterbrain is still out of my league, but now I don't feel it's impossible. :D
Oh yeah, avatars, meh...
Now, kind of still on the topic of note charts, vocals. I'm not much of a vocalist, I sign pretty monotone, and I'm pretty sure I'm tone deaf but I'm working on it. Now it's the same system as Rock Band, roughly at least, but one change(potentially the only change besides star power) I like way more. The fact that the notes(?) are in boxes, and as you hit the right pitch it fills up in the areas you hit it. To be honest most will say it's useless, and I can't blame you, but it helps people that suck at vox know when they're hitting it dead on. Playing on expert I noticed very little leeway in the box, the cursor could only move VERY slightly in it, so either you're hitting it or not. Might be different on other difficulties, probably way more forgiving I assume.
Venues...different....encores still have the stupid intro, better than nothing I suppose. Can't complain, they look nice.
Celebrities, I love the choices, Santana I'm not much a fan of but he's one of 5. Kurt Cobain was done amazingly in my opinion, I've seen a bunch of his live performances and it looks like they hit it dead on, and the model looked great. Same with Johnny Cash, who they also couldn't have scanned in(I hope they're not doing some shady grave digging shit. D;). Shirley Manson is different, which I like, you wouldn't expect her, and she's not bad at all(both talents and visually). Matthew Bellamy I was excited about most seeing as I'm a huge Muse fan, aside from his mouth opening a little too wide(which I noticed on Kurt Cobain, but it was less obvious on him) it looked more or less like him. After seeing his making of I see the look they used, which is about right, but I'll blame it on Bellamy here cause his psuedo-goatee looks like absolute shit. And what I also noticed was when you performed with these guys, you don't play as your created rockers, you play as set characters, which aren't their real life bandmates, but look VERY similar, which I thought was pretty cool.
I won't get into challenges, mainly cause I'm not good at them, they are challenging I suppose, so they're doing their job, I guess it's one way of unlocking new outfit pieces...
Also, I LOVE the setlist, it's introduced me to great music I'd have normally ignored and there's maybe one or two I didn't like, even hated? ;o
To end it off, GREAT recovery for the Guitar Hero series in my opinion, they did just about everything right here. There's still room for improvement of course(LIKE CHANGING YOUR DIFFICULTY WHILE PICKING A SONG RATHER THAN IT LOADING AND RESTARTING FOR A NEW DIFFICULTY), but it does things Rock Band doesn't, like the timer you get once you unpause, and the new party play mode, I played about 6 songs when I first booted it up without realizing I wasn't earning anything(though it doesn't matter much, all songs are unlocked from the get go). Anyway, if you're interest even moderately, GET THIS GAME.
Images courtesy of GameFAQs(CNET?) read