Guitar Hero 5’s graphics kick ass. When I first loaded the game and started playing it, that was the first thing I noticed. The graphics look stunning. The lighting, the textures, everything is just great. Comparing it to Rock Band 2’s graphics may be a bit unfair, since RB2 is much older, but it’s inevitable since I will be comparing other things in this post. So in terms of graphics, GH5 wins by a large margin.
When I was thinking about writing this post, though, I was waiting for a friend to arrive here at my home so we’d play Beatles Rock Band and GH5 together. He had not seen either of those games, so we were gonna play them together. While I waited, though, I played some Rock Band 2. And here’s what happened: I started to pay attention to the little details in the graphics. It seems like RB2’s characters were built using a much lower number of polygons and simpler textures… but they still look quite good. Simple, yet good.
But anyway, I started noticing the details and 2 things kinda stood out. First a weak point in RB2’s graphics: lighting sometimes sucks. A lot. Depending on the light that shines on the character, he can look really really ugly. It exposes the small number of polygons, specially in the face. The drummer of my little rock band has that “meathead” face, with the big jaw, and in the beginning of a certain metal song (I believe it was “Shoulder to the Plow”, but I can be mistaken), a direct light shone on him and he looked like a freaking monster. Really ugly. Also, lighting effects on the teeth of the characters can have very ugly results.
Second… and this really stood out for me… the shows in RB2 have a LOT of special effects going on! And that’s REALLY cool. It’s amazing how I’ve been playing this game for so long and only now, when I’m comparing it to GH5, those details are coming out. Players on the spotlight, fog, “noise” effect on the screen, there are so many cool effects, and I couldn’t notice those in GH5. Those add so much to the “cool effect” of the game that it more than makes up for the old graphics, in my humble opinion.
Also, I think I should dedicate an entire post for character creation. There’s a lot to be said for both RB2 and GH5 on that one. But on the graphics subject, if Harmonix keeps all the cool special effects (maybe adds even more) in RB3, with updated graphics, man… it will be a beautiful game indeed. I just kept thinking to myself while playing GH5: “man, imagine these textures in RB2”. Well, RB3 is coming next year, and I think it’s not going to disappoint me in the graphics department.