Saturday, March 22, 2008

Frets On Fire

Hrmn, this one was disappointing but I think it's because my computer sucks, not because the game does. Frets On Fire is sort of an open-source version of Guitar Hero, which I've never actually played. But I've seen people play it at parties, which qualifies me to judge it, right?

The guitar-controller of Guitar Hero and Rock Band looks a lot more intuitive than using the F-keys of the keyboard, especially my keyboard with its weird gap between each set of four function keys, making my life difficult. That said, I'd think that anyone who was into the game could quickly get used to his or her particular keyboard, and you can re-map the keys if you're so inclined.

I couldn't really do a good test of this game, however, because it ran so poorly. Even at 640x480, there was horrible lag in the menus and in the game. I couldn't tell if my low scores were because of the lag, or because of my own ineptitude combined with the lag, but the lag was definitely a problem. Actually, my ineptitude was probably just as big a problem, but I'll never be certain, thanks to the lag. Sometimes it's better not to know.

Still, it's kind of a shame, as I would have liked to get into the game. It was worth the download just to go through the tutorial, voiced by a hilarious German accent that perfectly captures the personality of the sneering metal snob. Kudos for that!

On the downside, every time I tried to change video settings, it crashed to desktop with my resolution changed to 640x480, which was a major drag. I just had to log off and log back on to fix the resolution, but crashing is uncool. Thankfully, it did save my changes each time. Unfortunately, disabling anti-aliasing didn't help with the lag.

Also of note is the fact that the default package installs just the game. You can use Synaptic to download the default four-pack of songs, or you can search the internets for others. Torrent sites seemed to be full of them, as they were virtually all that came up when I googled for song-packs. As installed, it doesn't have any songs, so it doesn't work. But the tutorial works fine, and that was the best part for me, anyways.

Don't trust this review's negativity - others speak very highly of the game. If your hardware exceeds mine (almost everyone's does), it's probably very playable. It's a free Guitar Hero-clone that, according to the website, even accepts input from a guitar-controller, so it adds free extensibility to your console guitar games, if your PC runs it well. I have no valid opinion to express.

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