Before my hands-on time with Guitar Hero: World Tour the other day, I got a chance to sit down and share a beer with Neversoft's project director for the title, Brian Bright, a rather personable fellow who knows the entire history of the band Sisters of Mercy, which makes him okay in my book. Since we were sitting there discussing music anyway, I figured I'd ask him if he was worried at all about the competition. Well, first I asked him if he was concerned about Konami's Rock Revolution, which he said he'd never seen, neatly summing up exactly how much competition they're bringing to the genre.
But what about Rock Band? With an established fan base and a head start in the rhythm band genre, how can Guitar Hero: World Tour compete? Bright's simple answer? "We're bringing it".
His more complex and informative answer? "We want to push the genre farther forward. We're bringing innovation this year".
He's talking about the host of new features Guitar Hero: World Tour is bringing to the rhythm game market, such as the whole music studio, the GHTunes community they are building, and a drum kit with a built-in midi controller...they basically created a midi controller for the PS3 and Xbox 360 from the ground up.
Now that the PlayStation 3, PS2, and Xbox 360 versions of the game all support Rock Band instruments, the stand alone version of GH:WT should be able to find an audience in even the most stalwart Rock Band fans. "They can pick up the standalone version of World Tour and use those instruments, and when they break they can buy ours".
All that innovation, plus World Tour is technically the first third-party title to utilise Nintendo's Mii system, allowing you to bring your own brand of superdeformed style to the game.
Seeing as the main game - friends getting together and playing music - is essentially the same, the battle will come down to innovation and music selection, and from what I've seen so far, Bright is right - they are definitely bringing it.