Guitar Hero Live is the latest installment in the franchise from video game publisher Activision and first-time developer FreeStyle Games. Despite the series’ notoriety, the seventh entry in the multi-platform music simulator has waned in overall content and quality over the years, partially due to rising competition from former developer Harmonix and their Rock Band franchise.

While the gameplay has largely remained the same, Activision has allowed its various developers to innovate and expand upon basic player mechanics, thus heightening the experience into the realm of actual musical ability on the part of the players. More importantly, the popular music game has always been about taking on the guise of the rock star celebrity, a form of role-playing highlighted in the latest trailer.

The trailer, directed by Portlandia‘s Jonathan Krisel, sees Lenny Kravitz and James Franco go head-to-head in a guitar battle in order to win over their computer generated crowd of alternately adoring and derisive fans. Predictably, some light vocal sparring occurs between the two celebrities, with each drawing attention to the other’s respective vanities, before Kravitz takes it upon himself to teach Franco how to strut and act like a rock star (and all without splitting his pants, thankfully).

FreeStyle Games is prepared to introduce some major changes to the franchise going forward, including a revamped guitar controller and full motion video supported in-game presentation, in order to mimic a real-world concert setting from the perspective of the lead guitarist. There is also two new playable modes; namely, a first-person gameplay option and a fully functioning, music video network (GH TV) that will evolve with the times and remain up-to-date with all of the latest musical releases.

According to Activision CMO Tim Ellis:

“Guitar Hero Live gives you the chance to live out your rock star fantasy in front of a real audience that reacts to how you play, so watching James Franco and Lenny Kravitz challenging each other to win the crowd in the game brought that excitement to life in a really cool way.Some of the best moments captured on film were purely spontaneous between James and Lenny. They had great chemistry and had a lot of fun with the game. We just let them loose.”

Guitar Hero Live James Franco vs. Lenny Kravitz Guitar Hero Live Trailer: James Franco vs. Lenny Kravitz

Franco and Kravitz appear sold on the latest music simulator, though player approval is obviously still pending and of more immediate and lasting importance. It’s been a while since Guitar Hero or chief-competitor Rock Band felt new or vital, and the latest promotional trailer offers little in the way of new or exceptional growth from the once-revolutionary gaming experience.

Although Franco and Kravitz are seen to be enjoying plenty of presumed fun in the latest trailer, only time will tell how FreeStyle Games will fare when their product releases in October 2015.

Guitar Hero Live will be available to purchase for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U from supporting retailers in the U.S. on October 20th, 2015.

Source: Guitar Hero Games (Image courtesy of Mathieu Bitton)      

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