FrontMan Wireless Guitar Review

Guitar Hero III and Rock Band don’t get along. Well, strictly speaking, that doesn’t make any sense, but due to some silly legal squabbling, the official guitar peripheral for each game isn’t interchangeable with the other. Simply put, us gamers got screwed. Nyko jumped on the opportunity to offer gamers a high-quality peripheral that would work with both games, thus we’re graced with the rockin’ FrontMan Wireless Guitar Controller for PlayStation 3.

If you happen to own both games, this peripheral will work as a second controller for each, effectively reducing the clutter and expense of having specialized guitars for the two titles. The USB dongle that comes with the FrontMan is pretty hefty, but it has several neat little features. First off, it’s shaped like a guitar stomp box, which is a bit retro and original in these days of the small and sleek. You use the adaptor to switch seamlessly between Rock Band and Guitar Hero play; all that’s required is the twist of a knob and you’ve swapped games. Finally, the dongle contains a technically useless but fantastically entertaining feature; little colored lights on the front of the box light up when the corresponding fret buttons are being pressed down.

As for the guitar itself, it’s a bit lighter and more angular than both Rock Band’s Stratocaster model and Guitar Hero III’s Les Paul guitar. It doesn’t have a cheap feel — far from it — but it comes at a slightly cheaper price ($10 less) than the official Guitar Hero III guitar. The FrontMan is the same price as the official Rock Band guitar, but anyone who would buy a second Stratocaster needs to rethink things a bit.

Speaking of the incompetent Rock Band guitar, the FrontMan dominates it in almost every respect. The strum bar makes a world of difference in any guitar game, and we’re happy to report that the strum bar doesn’t have the same mushy feel that the Stratocaster so unfortunately contains. The FrontMan also offers an effects switch for use in Rock Band, which, unlike on the Stratocaster, is actually out of the way during play. Although the switch lagged noticeably, it’s not something that directly affects gameplay, thus the one or two second response time didn’t annoy us as much as slowly responding fret buttons would have.

With that said, the response time on the fret buttons is immediate. They do, however, feel a bit different than the other guitars. They have softer resistance than both official models, which left our fingers cramping after extended play sessions. We’re hoping we can adapt to this discrepancy eventually.

As for other features, the FrontMan’s whammy bar is a lot more solid than the Stratocaster’s and about equal to the Les Paul’s. Also, the guitar, which takes three AA’s, has an insanely long battery life. Expect to play upwards of 80 hours on a single set of batteries, the first of which is included. If you don’t mind playing wired, the FrontMan comes packed with a lengthy USB cable (which can also be used to recharge your standard controllers from far away).

Nyko’s FrontMan ups the ante for current generation guitar peripherals. Outside of the funky fret buttons, everything about the FrontMan screams quality. If you own Guitar Hero III, the FrontMan is a solid and cheaper alternative to the Les Paul. If you own Rock Band, The FrontMan is entirely superior to the Stratocaster. If you own both, why don’t you own a FrontMan already?



The Final Word

Nyko's FrontMan Wireless Guitar is the answer to your riff-riddled dreams.