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Author Topic: Frets on Fire Review  (Read 2606 times)

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Frets on Fire Review
« on: June 25, 2007, 08:34:43 am »
Okay, so before I begin, the game FoF is designed to be played on your keyboard. So anyone with an arcade machine that doesn't have an accessible keyboard can rate this game 0/5. On the other hand - if you have one of those nifty Playstation - USB adaptors, you can use one of the official Guitar Hero controllers (this is how I play). Finally, apparaently the xbox360 guitar works with some software drivers from microsoft.

So, onto the review proper :

The game is based on the Playstation2 game Guitar Hero. But where the PS2 original has lots of fancy animations, a whammy bar, extra effects and a "purpose" to the game, FoF is just a play along to your favourite tunes game.  In fact, it doesn't matter how bad you are in FoF - the whole song plays whereas in GH you will pretty soon be booed off stage. (By "purpose" I mean you advance to the next arena after completing a set number of tunes. Eventually you go from a garage band to a stadium band).

But, in GH you are "stuck" with the tunes that the game is shipped with. This is where FoF excels - theres literally 100's of tunes available that people have "tabbed" so theres  plenty for everyone. Sure, theres a hell of a lot of thrash metal that is only setup for the "amazing" skill level (for that read "damn near impossible") but theres also plenty of more gentle tracks for those of us who aren't so nimble fingered.

The best tracks to start with are the ones ported over from GH1 and 2 (plus theres the xbox360 bonus tracks too). These tunes come with all the difficulty settings so you can "build up" your skills before attempting anything fan made. Having said that theres a few easy to play fan made tunes out there - you just have to wade through them to find em ! A note on the fan made tunes - some are excellent and others are not so good. It really depends on the editing and music skill of the the said fan. The tunes that sound really good though are the ones where the original mp3 (its actually in ogg vorbis but I'll use the generic term mp3 here) has had the guitar "stripped" out, then the guitar track is stored as a seperate mp3. The game then plays BOTH mp3s but if you hit a wrong note the guitar mp3 is silenced and the bum note is played. If the fan hasnt got the software to do this then they tend to just copy the mp3 twice - basically the tunes don't sound as good especially when you start hitting the wrong notes - the whiole song just "dulls" a bit. Still, they are great fun to play so don't let that put you off.

So the gameplay - basically you are presented with the neck of a guitar going off into the distance. At the bottom of the neck (and therefor the screen) you have a coloured button matching the buttons on the guitar (or function keys F1-F5 if you use the keyboard). When the tune starts the frets on the neck begin to scroll down. Blobs that match the coloured buttons begin to scroll down with the frets and the player has to press the corresponding button (or buttons as you can also play chords) and "strum" the guitar (or press RETURN on the keyboard) as the blob hits the buttons at the bottom of the screen. Points are scored for each successful note played, a "bum" note is played if you get it wrong. Big points are awarded for holding notes when required and also mulitplyers are rewarded when amassing a long string of notes.

Its a very simple concept that seems to merge Tetris with DDR.

Theres a high score table for each song and skill level.

So whats there not to like ?

The stock graphics are okay but some of the modders have created some much better graphics.

There are some bugs that seem to randomly exit the game - no bit deal as it restarts fine just a pain ! Note : only happens to me from within a menu not when I'm half way through "Sweet Child Of Mine" :)

Seems to slow down after a while - memory leaking or something ?

My PS adaptor (from doesn't seem to like the PS2 guitar - I have to go into Control Panel and edit the properties of the "pad". The buttons are all going mad at this point for no reason. If I randomly press all the buttons it eventually stops. Only need to do this at boot time but its a bit of a pain (and yes I realise this is nothing to do with the game, its just a pain to have to do - but doesnt stop me from playing !).

Not as good to look at as Guitar Zero (a now defunct GH "lookalike" (for that read "exact rip off" that does look amazing). Its stil lavailable to download of you look carefully.

Only 3 tunes unless you make your own or download the "packs" from the usual sources (not sure if we are allowed to mention the torrent site as theres potential for copyright shinanigans).

So, is it worth it ? Well, seeing as its free and I haven't stopped playing it since I borrowed the guitar - YES !

I even tried it on keyboard at first - and it plays surprisingly well. If you hold the keyboard like a guitar then it does seem to work. See the screenshots section on the official site to see what I mean.

I'll not clutter up the post with pictures - check out the pictures on the official site and also have a look for "Frets on Fire" on Youtube (and seach for "Guitar Zero" on there too for a graphical comparison).

Official site for download/screenshots/forum/fan forum -

Cool youtube video - (not me by the way).

So, I think the guitar looks great hanging off the side of my cab. I'd give the game 4 out of 5 as theres still code to be done but to be honest 5/5 for the sheer fun of it (and yes I'd give GH 6/5 as its the "original" and does look better).

Oooh almost forgot - available for windows, linux and mac. :)
« Last Edit: June 25, 2007, 08:49:34 am by buks »