An interesting tidbit, the RedOctane/Harmonix duo basically dissolved with the companies being purchased by Activision and MTV respectively. RedOctane retained the rights to Guitar Hero, developed by Neversoft (THPS etc) and as a result Harmonix/MTV developed competitor Rockband.
After configuring and mating the wireless Les Paul styled axe you are treated to an animated epic featuring a generic rocker who will represent you in further cutscenes in career mode. The style of animation is reminiscent of the Guitar Hero commercials that aired where they battled an incoming meteor and that of strangely enough Batman: The Animated Series.
Navigating menus: with the wireless Les Paul you can use with the strum bar to navigate or the directional pad near the 360 button. Confirming is done with the Green (first) fret and canceling or going back with the Red (second) fret.
From the get-go, you have the option to start the career mode, tutorial, quickplay or try multiplayer online.
The Practice mode has a tutorial as well as a practice mode for individual songs. The tutorial is pretty broad but gives you the necessities you will need as well as some advanced techniques like hammer-on and pulling-off.
Beginning career mode you are charged with selecting a difficulty and then selecting your character, you can switch characters later if you choose. As far as I can tell each character seems to play the same, you just will have different "styles" and "outfits" to choose from. I chose Casey:
After selecting your character you can start your first show. The shows are basically your stages with the songs within each being a level. It is not required (at least on easy) to complete all of the songs to proceed. Typically the last song you play (before you proceed) you may be asked to do an encore for more cash or do a Boss Battle.
This is what you'll see when you start a song:
On easy only the first three frets are used (Green, Red, Yellow). The corresponding frets on the screen are from left to right (Green, Red, Yellow, Blue and Orange). As you increase in difficultly more frets are added, except for the hardest difficulty where all the frets are in use but there are more notes to play. On the left side is the score with a clicker tally that keeps track of continuous notes played if you do more than 20 or so in a row. Thus far I've been able to get 50 and 100 continuous notes, a message will also be displayed on screen which is a little distracting when you're trying to concentrate on the incoming notes. On the right side is the ROCK meter. When you play well the meter will reflect that. The more star notes you hit and if you use the whammy bar to extract more star power, you will build up the meter more quickly. Once filled you will be able to use Star Power (tilt the guitar upward to the rock gods) which is just a point multiplier.
I found that this iteration to be a bit more user friendly than the previous iteration, and having extra songs, characters, outfits to purchase an inviting incentive to replay tracks or to proceed further in the career mode.
The songs really run the gamut, and even with some songs that I wasn't necessarily a fan of, I found myself tapping along happily. There are classics on there from Paint it Black to Bulls on Parade. They are glorified covers in most cases, but they're for the most part well done. The intagible fun aspect is there though and I think ultimately if you don't take things too seriously you'll have a good time with it.