Unlike the more established rhythm games, Power Gig features a vertical note highway. It looks a lot like the layout of Konami's Rock Revolution, which I guarantee is not the comparison Seven 45 Studios wants. Notes falling down the screen has always been a little confusing to me, but it's made worse by the unnecessary line that ties the notes together. I'm not sure if it's an optical illusion or if the notes really are moving, but I found it extremely difficult to nail down which buttons to hit. I'm a seasoned veteran of this genre, yet the charting played tricks on my eyes and made me miss otherwise easy notes.
They say that you don't know what you have until it's gone; well that logic definitely applies to the Power Gig guitar. Gone is the whammy bar, a seemingly unimportant way to add a little personality to extended notes. Outside of using it to build up overdrive juice, I rarely used the whammy bar. But once it's gone, I realized that I actually missed having it there. I also dislike pushing the back button to activate the super powers, it's a shame you can't hold the guitar up like every other rhythm game. This isn't a big deal during a slow song, but you'll need a second person when things get fast.
Playing the game with a Rock Band or Guitar Hero control may be easier, but you lose some fairly interesting (though mishandled) modes. The game boasts that you can "learn to rock," and the power chord mode is the start. When it was originally described to me, this power chord mode sounded like a simple way of learning the standard power chords and applying them to some of your favorite rock songs. Sadly that is not the case. Instead players are given a brief tutorial that teaches you four chords that I've never used once in my years of real world guitar playing.
What the game manages to do is teach some basic finger positions, which will help budding guitarists become familiar with the six strings. But I don't think I'm wrong to say that the teaching elements of this game were supposed to be the star. Why else would they offer a real guitar if they didn't intend to teach you the basics? This was a way to differentiate the Power Gig brand from Rock Band and Guitar Hero, perhaps attracting a new audience of parents using video games to teach their children to play guitar. But this doesn't do that. It doesn't even make the effort. The power chord mode is too simplistic to be a helpful teaching tool and too difficult to be fun for casual gamers.
With so much time focused on the guitar, you might think that's all Power Gig has to offer. Here we get the standard music game trappings, including a karaoke-style singing and a weird drum kit (which was not part of the package I reviewed). Both of these elements work well and are largely unchanged from past music games. I was disappointed to see that the bass player doesn't get to come along for the ride, but I guess you have to draw the line somewhere.
Believe it or not, the game actually does offer a story mode. Through a bunch of cheesy animated clips, we're introduced to a world where rocking is outlawed and everything is tightly controlled by the powers that be. You control a group of ugly characters as they try to unite the various powers and take down the man. This is a completely forgettable story line that, to be perfectly honest, I had to force myself to remember for the sake of this review.
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