The Nyko Frontman for the PS2 was very good third party guitar in my opinion. It had a good solid feel and offered wireless capabilities before there were wireless guitars. Nyko's trying to capture the magic again with the Frontman for the PlayStation 3. This time though I think they took a step or two back in some areas while moving forward in others.
The design of the Nyko Frontman for the PlayStation 3 is pretty similar to the PlayStation 2 version. There are some subtle differences though. For starters, let's take a look at the buttons. Unlike the PlayStation 2 version, the PlayStation 3 version features smaller buttons. It's a design that I'm not happy with as I liked the slightly longer buttons. I'm used to the Rock Band guitar and having the entire front part of the neck being the button but if you're going to go to the Guitar Hero design and feature front faced buttons, I don't think you would want to make them smaller. Most guitars have a physical indicator of which button is the yellow button. The PlayStation 2 has a long slightly raised plastic line in the middle. The PlayStation 3 version only has a small raised plastic dot making it hard to judge by feel. For more experienced players this may not be a big deal and I'm a proficient guitar player but I'd still rather have a more profound tactile feature to let you know which finger is on the middle button.
It's important to get the feel of the buttons right as well and Nyko's implementation is a little softer on the press than the official guitar. The pressing distance is also shorter making it feel a little different. Some may not like the change in feel though and I found myself wishing it was a little bit more like the official guitar. Spacing on the buttons though are the same as the regular Guitar Hero guitar so that's good.
Speaking of feel, one of the things I really like about the Frontman is that the whammy bar is really solid. I've never liked the Rock Band 1 one as I thought it was too loose but the Frontman has a strong solid feel to it when you rotate it so you know it won't rotate once you let go. The string feels pretty strong as well which is something I like. If there's one thing I think Nyko gets right is the feeling of a strong and solid whammy bar.
If you like to customize the look of the guitar, the Frontman comes with two front plates that are interchangeable. Noting earth shattering and you can still put stickers on it if you like but we'll have to see if more style plates get released by Nyko.
For Rock Band compatibility, the Nyko Frontman has the guitar effects switch and that worked without any issues. Unfortunately, there aren't any of the solo buttons so you're stuck with the main buttons during solos and rocking out in Rock Band. Me, I always used the main buttons no matter what except for the end where you rock out so this isn't that big of a deal for me. But, it's nice to see that you can change the sound of your whammy bar effects on this guitar.
On the front, the Nyko button doubles as the sync button as well as the PS button. You won't be able to turn on the PlayStation 3 with it though but you can access the menus and the new in-game XMB feature of the latest PlayStation 3 update. The start and select button are located next to the Nyko button as well. To help navigate through the XMB or game menus, there's a mini digital joystick in one a corner of the guitar.
One big selling point of the Frontman when it was released months ago is compatibility with both Guitar Hero III and Rock Band. The scene has changed recently with the patch as well as the release of Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2 but that doesn't mean that you don't have to consider a third party guitar if you want to play all the musical games on the PlayStation 3. The Frontman's dongle has a dial that lets you switch between the two games so you can have one guitar for two games and save money if you're looking for an extra guitar if you own both games.
Speaking of the dongle, the physical nature of the object makes it look like a guitar foot pedal. The spot where your foot would rest is really a button that lets you sync up the guitar. On the front are five LEDs colored exactly like the buttons on the guitar. When you press a fret button down, the corresponding colored light lights up on the dongle. It's nothing really useful but I think it's cool to look at. It's sometimes interesting to see how someone's doing fingering the fret buttons just by watching the lights on the dongle flash about.
Something that's unique to the Frontman is the ability to recharge NiMH batteries. You can use regular AA's in the Frontman but if you put NiMH batteries in instead, you can plug the Frontman into an available USB port and charge the batteries inside. Seeing as you have to buy a separate charging peripheral for the Guitar Hero guitar and there's no rechargeable pack for the Rock Band guitar, the inclusion in the Frontman to use both regular and recharge NiMH batteries is a great plus for the guitar. Included is a USB cable that lets you plug the guitar into a USB port. The mini-USB plug on the guitar is located at the bottom so if you have to play it while plugged in it's out of the way. Now this is a feature that the official guitars don't have and I've always loved the fact you can recharge batters with the guitar.
Playing with the Frontman for the PlayStation 3, I found that it wasn't as nice of a feel as the Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar but it was good enough. I did find myself scoring slightly lower but that could be because I had a lot of off nights. Even so, I think it's a good third party guitar for the PlayStation 3 side of things and it's certainly better than many of the third party ones I've used out there.
If there's one company I usually trust in third party controllers it is Nyko and the Frontman for the PlayStation 3 is a good but not great guitar. I think their version on the PlayStation 2 felt better and played better as well but the PlayStation 3 version still did OK. For those looking at something different with recharging capabilities and compatibility between games, the Frontman PlayStation 3 has that and will let you strum your way on both Guitar Hero games and Rock Band games.
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