Power Gig: Rise of the SixString Review

By Stephen Johnson - Posted Nov 11, 2010

Power Gig: Rise of the SixString is like a third party political candidate in a presidential race. At first glance, it's a breath of fresh air, different enough from the main candidates to seem innovative, but once you look past the hype, you find nothing at its core but a cheap gimmick.

The Pros
  • Eric Clapton, Kid Rock and Dave Matthews Band tracks included
The Cons
  • Broken gameplay
  • Horrible graphics
  • Nonsensical story

Power Gig: Rise of the SixString Review:

Power Gig: Rise of the SixString is like a third party political candidate in a presidential race. At first glance, it’s a breath of fresh air, different enough from the main candidates to seem innovative, but once you look past the hype, you find nothing at its core but a cheap gimmick. It’s a mediocre game with a wonky peripheral and a second rate track list. Like Ralph Nader in a presidential run, in comparison with this year’s other big music games (Rock Band 3 and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock), Power Gig comes in a distant third.

The main selling point of Power Gig is the controller: It comes with a stringed guitar that can be plugged into an amp and played like an actual guitar when not being used as a game controller. You might assume that Power Gig’s raison d'etre is to teach you how to really play guitar while you game. But it isn’t, and it doesn’t.

Unlike Rock Band 3’s pro mode, which actually teaches you basic guitarmanship, Power Gig’s gameplay is a 2D, top-down version of the standard, five-button note highway you know from any Guitar Hero or Rock Band game, with the addition of two-string “power chords” in a special mode. The power chords are the actual notes played in parts of the song, but the rest of the note-charts have nothing to do with the music you hear. This means you’ll have to play with the strings on the Power Gig axe muted or be met with a cacophonous noise. So you might ask, “What’s the point, then?”  Well, I don’t freakin’ know, man.

“Is that Power Gig? Well turn it down, man!”

If throwing in a few chords in the middle of a standard Guitar Hero style song sounds confusing, rest assured, it is. The notation for playing a chord is different enough from standard, fake guitar notation to be jarring when it comes up. I’m a good, fake guitarist and a mediocre real guitarist, and I was never able to get the hang of the power chord. It’s just confusing and unpleasant and generally sucky. I turned it off most of the time.

As a controller, I kind of like the Power Gig axe -- when it works. It’s fun to play a rhythm game with a real guitar and pick, and it helps you build finger calluses, but it sometimes doesn’t register button presses and strums, so you won’t want to throw away your Rock Band peripherals.

Sadly, as a guitar, Power Gig’s controller doesn’t rock at all. It doesn’t hold tune for more than a few minutes. It’s crazy heavy for its small size, sounds muddy, and it’s made of plastic, so you’d have to expect warping/bowing over time with an “instrument” like this. Even if you really need to play fake guitar version of Kid Rock’s “Son of Detroit,” you’d be much better off just buying PowerGig without the guitar bundle and playing it on your Guitar Hero axe.

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I Don’t Like This Game Because It Is Bad

Apart from the addition of chords, SixString does nothing that Guitar Hero and Rock Band haven’t been doing much better for years. You play with a “band,” (drums, guitar and vocals), going through a bunch of songs in different venues, employing your Mojo Power (think Overdrive or Star Power.) 

There’s an utterly incomprehensible plot told through bargain basement cut-scenes. There are animated avatars that are much worse than either Guitar Hero or Rock Band’s figures. Nonsensical, pointless difficulty is added by the fact that different musicians and venues have specific mojo specialties, meaning you have to choose the right players for the right venue, a gameplay addition I defy anyone to care enough about to actually understand.

We didn’t get to test out the “air drum” peripheral, so I can’t speak on how that works, but I can say that the placement of note-highways onscreen is terrible. Where both RB and GH take into account how many people are playing – if it’s a one player game, your notes are central – Power Gig does not. Instead, if you’re playing by yourself (and you will be, if your friends have any taste at all), your note highway is squished up to the side of the screen for no reason at all.

Buckcherry, Puddle of Mudd and John Mayer?? How Could I NOT Want This Game??

On the plus side, the track list contains a couple tracks from Eric Clapton, who hasn’t appeared in any other music game, as well as some exclusive tracks from Dave Matthews Band and Kid Rock. Musical taste is subjective, but to me, Clapton in a guitar game is good. Matthews and Rock are meh. Other than that, Power Gig’s set list is chockfull of second tier bands like Buckcherry, music I haven’t heard of, and songs/artists that are already available in much better music games.

While there are some great individual songs on the soundtrack, on the whole, it’s an uninspired, guitar-driven collection that doesn’t show the great curatorial prowess of Rock Band’s always-awesome song collections.

If you buy the Power Gig bundle with the guitar, it will set you back $180. For around that same price, you could pick up a beginner electric guitar and an amp. Or three AAA video games. Or Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock with a full band bundle. I urge you to make any of those other choices.

Pity the poor child who wakes up on Christmas morning with Power Gig under the tree instead of the Rock Band 3 he asked for. He’s likely to feel like the nation would were we to wake up in November 2012 and perennial third-party candidate Lyndon LaRouche was in the White House: Confused, ripped-off and terrified. Power Gig is just not a very good music game.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?