Can a Game Make You Cry?More Than a FeelingCan a Game Make You Cry? - RSS 2.0
It also teaches you that the best, the very best guitar-led songs manage to hit these sensations while still serving the song, because there's more than the act of guitar playing being taught. It's also engages with your understanding of the song itself. Guitar Hero, in some ways, is an active form of music criticism, opening the songs' guts to a layperson so you can see how it's working, like Natural Scientists trying to understand the universe's design in a daisy. For example, I know "Ziggy Stardust" is a great song, but by the game walking you through Mick Ronson's lyrical and witty guitar line, I understand it all the better: How it flicks between the hard and the soft and the counterpoint to Bowie's lines; how it's really good.
Even artists I've got less time for are shown in a better light. Take Franz Ferdinand's reheated, post-punk art-pop, represented by "Take Me Out." Coming from an entirely different tradition to the majority of the songs Guitar Hero offers, its oblique rhythms provide off-kilter challenge, and playing them shows you how imaginative, how ballsy, and how, through odd ingredients, its momentum is created. Playing the Chili's cover of Stevie's Wonder's "Higher Ground" and Sum 41's "Fat Lip" have led to similar grudging respect, against my previously developed critical (and terribly snobby) faculties.
Going further, and showing it isn't just that Guitar Hero makes all songs great, the array of B-level filler mostly just sits dead on the disc, taking up space. Guitar Hero's explanation only works when there's something worth explaining. Flipping it around, obviously enough, songs you already love have their greatness re-affirmed. "Ace of Spades" is nothing less than the sound of the universe's atria slamming shut during the world's sexiest coronary, and captured perfectly here while (on higher difficulties) sitting on the absolute immaculate boundary being too hard to play and impossibly satisfying when you do. Equally, the Queens of the Stone Age's "No One Knows," whose dense rhythms can stun the unwary fledgling even on Easy.
"More Than a Feeling" isn't that hard - only on Expert does it start to really take your fingers apart, one knuckle at a time. This is part of its majesty as a level, gently walking you through everything great about Guitar Hero. Delicate movements of the fingers across the plastic fret board during its idyllic opening, before it releases the Searing Guitar Sound™ into a lyrical refrain, descending toward... oh, baby Jesus, hold me now - the golden moment: The long held note leading into the chorus, lengthy enough to give you all the time in the world to work the whammy bar to power up your Star Power meter before releasing the Bonus Power by holding your guitar aloft, just as the power-chords of the chorus kicks in. The whole screen lights up. Your face lights up. The stars shine brighter. The world's a better place.
It's More Than a Feeling, and you're feeling more than that.
Kieron Gillen has been writing about videogames for far too long now. His rock and roll dream is to form an Electro-band with Miss Kittin and SHODAN pairing up on vocals.