Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Frets are on Fire

E3 gave us a nice look at the new age of console karaoke with its tempting videos of the upcoming “Rockband” and “Guitar Hero 3,” but little do many people know, hidden in the dark reaches of the internet lays a freeware version of the infamous game that has many of us addicted and thinking that we can rock like the stars. And if you have a computer with internet access, then you can rock and roll all night long.

If you have read the previous entries here, and if you have been paying attention to the gaming scene since about 2005, then you know about Guitar Hero, and have either made up your mind that it is a fun game or a complete waste of time. For those of you who refuse to pick up the guitar and rock out, know that I was with you. But then one day, as I listened to the lovely ladies at Gamer Girls Radio, I heard about the freeware version known as Frets on Fire. This apparently was an attempt by Unreal Voodoo to increase the popularity of Guitar Hero amongst PC gamers, but also a way to utilize the up and coming Xbox 360 USB guitar, which can plug directly into the computer for seamless Frets on Fire gameplay.

Know, if you don’t have an Xbox 360 Guitar Hero USB guitar controller, then you are forced to use the F1-F5 buttons on the top of your keyboard and the enter key as you action buttons. This can be rather ridiculous looking and complicated at the same time. Especially if you are like me and only have a laptop because you can’t flip the keyboard in order to simulate the Guitar Hero controller. In which case, you grow used to using the fingers in the opposite motion, which really messes up your Guitar Hero skills, believe you me.

Know this can be both really fun and really annoying. There’s nothing like feeling the crowd and rocking to the music to get your heart beating and head swollen. But then, when you heard that squelch from the guitar as you strum the wrong note, you almost want to jump off your balcony to end your worthless existence. Yes, your friends will make fun of you just as bad when you screw up at Frets on Fire.

Now initially, the game only comes with three songs, which is lousy to say the least. I mean, since you can never play only one song one time, you will eventually master the three songs rather quickly, leaving yourself feeling empty and violated, but never fear, there is a song editor. Now, the song editor is a great program, if you can ever get it work properly, which I never did. But others did, leaving us with 3 downloadable song packs, one of which was released by Red Octane in order to boost their popularity. So, you can get Guitar Hero I songs and about 500 other songs, with a total of 700+ songs. You’ll need to Bittorrent these up however, so if you have a bad internet connection or are just apposed to using Bittorrent, then this game is going to be lacking something for you.

But the 700+ songs give you hours of gaming enjoyment, even if you are terrible at it. Most of the songs have at least a medium rating, and some of the most difficult versions of songs are easy, so you can’t say the editor program is foolproof, even if you agree that most of the errors occurred between the keyboard and the chair. Still, it fun to rock out to some of the worlds most famous songs and listen to some of the greatest bands, like AC/DC. If would be even better with the Xbox seamless play however.

Being that this game is free, and being that all you need to do in order to get more than 24 hours of enjoyment is click download and wait, I say that this game is worth it, even if you suck and hear that stupid squelch more than you hear the song. Trust me, even if you are terrible or find no enjoyment in karaoke-type games, you will find yourself sucked in by more than one song. Even a tone-deaf guy like myself has fun with this game, so I highly recommend it.

I give Frets on Fire a B for its many bugs but very enjoyable gameplay. Rock on guys.