Imagine that there exists a great machine.
At your approach dials bloom upon it, competing for the available surface area. One of them begins to turn, slowly. Perceptibly, you feel the ambient strangeness increase.
Guitar Hero enthusiasts were probably so enthusiastic that they already purchased the sequel for the Playstation 2, knowing full well they might be asked to make difficult choices when the product saw release on the 360 plus extras. I’m referring to some anonymous third party here, but I’m actually talking about me. People who are not me - a significant group - most likely leapt at the ability to get additional use out of their prior Guitar Investment. Statistically speaking, they probably don’t own a 360 anyhow. This makes the tribulations referred to earlier a highly localized phenomenon.
Expecting to find at CES a lightly retooled version of the game I had already played to completion, I instead received crisp textures, sharp details, and tasteful lighting effects that (when seen in motion) really elevate the presentation. I don’t know if we’re talking about Gears of War or anything - though a Gears-themed guitar would be a nice fit - but it’s not some slipshod port. Possum Kingdom (by The Toadies, one of the ten new songs included in the this version) is, I would wager a substantial sum, another "Master Track" recording - like John The Fisherman before it, it’s based on the actual studio session as opposed to ginned up by a third party. As the "Hero" franchise gains credibility, I imagine we’ll be treated to more of this.
The new guitar itself, the X-Plorer or somesuch, is fine but I don’t prefer it. I like that it has a little more robust controller functionality, and for it to be taken seriously as an Xbox 360 controller of course it needs to have that jewel. The buttons themselves, the ones that mimic frets, have that beefier feel (at least, on the example hardware) that I like in our Ant Commandos Freedom V wireless. But, also like the Freedom V, I essentially hate the strap placement. It isn’t quite as bad as the TAC controller, where the part of the strap by the neck is constantly coming off mid-rock and the part on the end just never fits right - it’s wrong in a different way. You can see that at the top of the body, it has a strong design element that juts out above the hook where the strap connects. I could never get the guitar to sit right around that grey peninsula - the hook on the original SG projects straight out of a smooth, curved surface, letting it hang perfectly. On the X-Plorer, the other hook projects back toward the player, right around where the neck and body connect. Instead of a clean hang, this (combined with the other one) makes the face of controller naturally tilt down and away from the player, which wasn’t comfortable for me. It’s not dealbreaker uncomfortable, but I hate it like I hate the Devil.
I had come to accept that we’d be dealing with a wired controller, but maybe that won’t be the case - it’s hard to say. We’re already talking about a game people will be (in some cases) buying again, either because they’re completionists or they believe that downloadable content is the future of the series, and to make them buy a wired controller a second or third time isn’t the way to inaugurate the new platform. What’s more, the mysterious RJ-11 connector on the new guitar must hook into something, and I’ll be God Damned if I’m going to plug a USB controller into the system one way and then have another cable going down to a peripheral I bought for my peripheral. Going wired now is counter to the system philosophically. It needs fixed. Let me have this one thing before the guys who made GUN fuck this franchise up the ass.
Also, I wanted to wish the mighty guilds of the Penny Arcade Alliance good hunting in the Burning Crusade expansion. Honor! Strength! Dominion! I recognize that this is typically Gabriel’s duty, but he is probably opening a coconut with a machete on a pagan altar (or whatever), and I know he would want it done. If there is ever a lull in your subjugations of The Horde, please take a moment to banish a hideous aberration for me.