PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii owners will all find new wireless Gibson Les Paul guitar controllers bundled with the latest Guitar Hero sequel, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
RedOctane VP of hardware Lee Guinchard introduced the new Gibson Les Paul-inspired guitar to gaming journalists at a recent San Francisco press event held earlier this week. Guinchard stressed that the new controller maintains the "core essence" of the Guitar Hero controller but also features several improvements, including sturdier construction, a detachable neck, and wireless support.
The new controller feels better than any other Guitar Hero controller to date. The frame exhibits less flex, and the guitar's hefty feel makes us believe it can handle more player abuse than past models. The fret buttons have also been upgraded to feel less "spongy" according to Guinchard, and we have to say that, yes, they do feel less spongy.
The new guitars also feature detachable necks for easy transport. Guinchard wouldn't comment on the possibility of releasing alternative neck attachments, but he did say that there are "extra pins" currently unused in the connector. All the guitars also have the mysterious expansion port located on the bottom edge of the controller we first saw on the X-Plorer guitar for the Xbox 360, but we couldn't find anyone willing to tell us if a pedal attachment is in the works.
RedOctane upgraded the PlayStation 3 and 360 guitars with accelerometers to bring them up to speed with the current-console generation, but Guitar Hero III takes advantage of the Wii's abilities by inserting the remote directly into the guitar. The game uses the Wii's accelerometer to detect star power activation, and the remote's built-in speaker will let you know when you've hit the wrong note.
The guitar is wireless for all the next-generation platforms, but all the PlayStation 3 demo systems at the event had wireless dongles for the controllers. Guinchard explained to GameSpot that time constraints forced RedOctane to go with the dongle route on the PS3, but he hopes to eventually replace the controller with a dongle-free version after the holiday season. The wireless guitars use two AA batteries and offer an estimated 28 hours of battery life.
The new guitars will provide owners extra customization options through detachable faceplates. RedOctane will offer six to eight faceplate designs, with some regional offerings at launch. We saw guitars featuring brown and blue wood trims. We also saw nationalized models based on the Union Jack, the Canadian Maple Leaf, and the Stars and Stripes. A few exclusive faceplates will only be available at certain major retailers. RedOctane hasn't announced how much the individual guitars will cost, but the faceplates will go for $14.99 each. Aspiring guitar heroes will be able to get their hands on the new guitar when Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock drops on October 28.