General Gaming

Musings On Rock Band/Guitar Hero Difficulty


I never leave a game incomplete. Irrespective of how tough it is—or even broken in terms of game play—I’ll always chip away until I pass the finish line. Lately, there have been some frustrating exceptions to this rule, all falling under the Rock Band/Guitar Hero banner.

I’ve always maintained I’m pretty good at the rhythm action genre, but that probably comes down to the fact I have a lot of persistence with gaming. With both Guitar Hero II and III, I made it right through to the last tier on Expert (with GHII I was only two songs from completing Expert). However, I can never get past those last few hurdles.

Let’s start with Guitar Hero II, my first foray into the rhythm genre.

Hangar 18 is the devil of all songs. It’s what has prevented me from nabbing that Expert Achievement, standing between Free Bird and myself.

Guitar Hero II, however, has a really consistent difficulty throughout the Expert career. It’s tough all through each of the 8 tiers, but gradually increases in difficulty as you near the end. At no point does it drastically jump from being perfectly easy to frustratingly hard, and for that reason I really enjoy Guitar Hero II. It’s safe to say your ‘skills’ coincide nicely with the games difficulty, improving along with the increase in challenge.

Because of this, I kept coming back to Guitar Hero II. It hypnotised me with a ‘one more shot’ mentality. I knew I could do it, it just required practice, something I was willing to give… until I lost my GHII disc.

Guitar Hero III has been said to be even tougher than Guitar Hero II, and I’d have to agree with this. While I still managed to progress through the Expert career relatively nicely, again right through to the last tier, I did notice it was slightly more challenging. I knew that if I couldn’t finish GHII on Expert, there was little chance of me completing GHIII.

Having said that, the difficulty of these games is the reasoning behind why I put so much time into them. It’s refreshing to have a game where I can’t blitz through it within 5 hours. Guitar Hero has longevity, so I’ve never once wished they made the difficulty any easier.

Unfortunately, I’ll never know if I could complete Guitar Hero III on Expert. I encountered a glitch where it reverts my save, oddly enough only with the final tier on Expert. If I have any chance of completing it, it would have to be all in one sitting! An impossible feat for myself.

Still, I do find myself booting up Guitar Hero III every now and again for a blast on Quick Play, and I’m toying with the idea of starting Expert career again, hopefully avoiding the glitch this time round.

While I think Rock Band is a better game in general, I’m really disappointed with the way the developers tackled the difficulty. I must clarify I’m talking about the guitar career, not drums (which is tough!) or vocals (which I’ve so far avoided). It is considerably easier than Guitar Hero. I know they are two separate franchises, but no harm in drawing comparisons.

I blitzed through the Hard career without failing one song, and the Expert career proved to be no problem until the final song, where the difficulty suddenly jumped ten fold (those bloody triplets!).

If I was to change anything about Rock Band, it would indeed be the difficulty. A little consistency wouldn’t have went amiss, nor would it have harmed the game if they had made Expert slightly more challenging all throughout.

I’d say out of these three games, Guitar Hero II really hit the nail on the head with difficulty. OK, so I may have never completed it, but it was consistent enough to always be enjoyable, unlike Rock Band where I was thinking “this is pretty easy… a little too easy” until the last song where it became ridiculously hard.

So there you have it—my musings on the difficulty of the Guitar Hero franchise and Rock Band. What was your take on the challenge factor for either of these games?


Heyo, I'm Ashley. I like video games, photography, and my dog, Indie.

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