One of the fastest growing trends in gaming over the past few years has been the rise of the rhythm genre. While games utilising plastic instruments were around long before Activision's Guitar Hero, it wasn't until the first Guitar Hero game came out that Western audiences jumped on board. Since then the momentum has grown with each game, with several iterations of the Guitar Hero franchise already being released this year, and even more games due out in the latter half. There has also been the burgeoning mass of third-party accessories from guitar bags to smoke machines, so it's not too surprising that one of the world's largest peripheral makers, Logitech, has jumped on-board releasing a premium guitar.
The Logitech Wireless Guitar Controller looks great. The faux tuning pegs, machine heads and strap buttons are all made out of metal and have a silver finish. The neck of the guitar is made out of wood, the fretboard rosewood, and to complete the look it has metal frets and a plastic nut, just like a real guitar. It even weighs like the real thing, the additional heft bringing you that bit closer to virtual rock god status.
The body of the guitar, while not officially licensed, is shaped similarly to Fender's Stratocaster. PlayStation 2 and 3 players get a glossy piano black, making it a fingerprint collector; while Xbox 360 gamers will get an orange and white combo, which may not be to everyone's tastes. Regardless of the gaming platform, Logitech has made the strum bar slightly longer and moved it closer to the Star Power and Select buttons, both integrated into the pick-ups, while the whammy bar and start button are situated on the mock-bridge.
Below all those buttons is the multi-directional PlayStation or Xbox menu button, which is almost identical to the one that appears on the official guitars, not that there's any real problem with that, given its simplicity to use.
As the name would suggest, the Logitech guitar is wireless, allowing you to rock out without any cords. Like most wireless devices it runs on the 2.4GHz frequency. However, while it will sync up with the Xbox 360 with no additional devices, the PS3 and PS2 require a USB dongle to be inserted. It's a real shame Logitech didn't licence Sony's proprietary Bluetooth on this one, but if they did that, then the guitar wouldn't work with PS2s so it's a bit of a catch 22. While it's not that big a deal, it does take up one of your precious USB ports while playing.
This is the first third-party guitar that we've seen encompass the touch-sensitive slider that sets the Guitar Hero guitar apart from the Rock Band guitar — of course, whether you use it or not is entirely up to you.
When using the Logitech Wireless Guitar Controller for the first time, you'll immediately notice the weight difference between it and a normal Guitar Hero guitar, which isn't a bad thing because it feels like you're using a real instrument. While at first it feels great to use, it's not until you've used the guitar for a little while that a few annoyances rear their ugly heads.
For starters, the bottom of the neck (where the curve meets the fingerboard) is sharp and the edge sticks into your fingers. It's not a deal breaker, but it's definitely enough to be a pain for players with smaller hands. The broader and deeper neck of the guitar, despite the fret buttons being the same size as the Guitar Hero ones, makes it more difficult to swap between notes in expert play. To top it off, we also found that the frets were a bit sticky, not bouncing back as quickly as we'd like them to. While this may sound a bit silly to the casual player, it's not until you crank it up to hard or expert that these nuisances start to hinder gameplay.
We tested the Logitech Wireless Guitar Controller out with both Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour and found that it synced painlessly with the games. It's unclear at this stage whether the Guitar Controller will be forwards compatible with Guitar Hero 5.
The Logitech Wireless Guitar Controller looks great and would be suitable for casual virtual rock gods. However, given its high price point we'd have a great deal of trouble justifying it to people. On the other end of the spectrum, while many hardcore GH players would be willing to shell out the money for a premium guitar, there are just a few too many annoyances in this package to recommend to someone who wants to turn it up to 11.