Let's face it, you can't compete against Rock Band with just guitars. You can decide to go your own route and own the Guitar-only rhythm game genre, but that seems like a formula to lose money and no one is in this business to do that. So Guitar Hero IV, aka Guitar Hero World Tour, had to come up with a band of its own. And the developers did it in spades rolling out a six-piece drum kit with two raised cymbals, a snare, and two toms, all of which are velocity-sensitive. Neversoft also made the guitar bigger, more realistic looking and added a fretless slider panel. And the innovation didn't stop with the instruments; gameplay got a major overhaul too.
Do the masters-only massive setlist, new instruments and gameplay give Guitar Hero World Tour the competitive edge in the band music genre or is the game destined to spend its remaining days treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry?
The Difficulties All Go To Five: Perhaps sensing an expanding interest in an untapped market, this latest Guitar Hero includes a fifth difficulty level. But instead of using the extra level to make things harder, Neversoft used it to make things easier. If I had a child not already indoctrinated into the cult of band games, I'd be elated.
Quite Exciting, This Computer Magic: Playing Guitar Hero World Tour, I was blown away at times by the animation of character models in the game. From the on-stage moonwalk, to head-banging guitarists, this latest Guitar Hero really amped up the things their characters do during a set.
It's Such An Interesting Concept: It's easy, I bet, when riding the tidal wave of success and money generated by a popular gaming franchise to get stuck in a rut, to take the no-risk route of more music but same mechanics. I was happy to see that Neversoft avoided that this time around. Granted they did need to come up with two new instruments for their band game, but they did so with a sense of panache. The drums have cymbals which makes drumming a bit more fun, more immersive. The guitar is chunkier, has a new fret-free slider bar and the microphone, well the microphone is just a mic.
The Sustain, Listen To It: Along with tweaking the existing and new instruments, Neversoft seems to have put a lot of thought in how to pull more out of the game play mechanics as well. The new slider on the guitar, for instance, lets you slide your way through whole sections of songs. You can also use it to tap the neck to hit notes and deliver wah during sustain. Other changes include a bass note that is fret free and sections of vocals designed for talking to the audience mid-song.
We say, "Love your brother." : Neversoft went well above and beyond in making sure that competitor Rock Band's instruments work with their game. Not only can you use the microphone, guitar and drum, when you use the RB2 drums in Guitar Hero World Tour it actually changes the way you play. The game reduces the number of "lanes" on the musical highway from Guitar Hero's five to Rock Band's four. Pretty impressive and a great service to cross-title gamers.
I Don't Hear Anything: You can have the best hardware design on the planet, but when your game ships with faulty controllers it just doesn't matter. While I love the slider on my guitar, the yellow button doesn't register at all. Others have reported having trouble with drums not registering hits. This isn't unique to Guitar Hero World Tour, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.
It's Such a Fine Line Between Stupid, and Clever: One of the things I liked about Guitar Hero III was its story line told through animated cut-scenes. Sure it was incredibly light, but it still helped give the game a bit of character, showing it was something more than Karaoke 2.0. This time around the game still features a bit of the same animation storyline, but it's really only delivered at the very beginning and the very end. The gap is so long I was confused about what I was seeing when the game's career mode wrapped up.
I've Got a Small Bit of Bad News: Guitar Hero World Tour has some tremendous high notes during the career mode, from Jimi Hendrix stepping on stage to jam with you to facing off against Ted Nugent. But none of those high notes come at the end of the career mode. Instead you're left with an odd mix of famous faces packed into a single band playing the sort of music they would NEVER play if they could ever be convinced to jam together. And the end credits' song. Really?
Money Talks, and Bullshit Walks: Product placement in absurdly popular video games are quickly becoming an inevitability, so we're all going to have to get used to it. But I don't think they should be as noticeable as they were for me in Guitar Hero World Tour. Plugging for musical instruments and venues: Fine. Plugging for KFC and Coke: No Thanks.
Guitar Hero World Tour has made me a believer. I don't think I could choose one distinct winner between Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour, mostly because they seem to be taking different routes to the same sort of excellence. But I love, for instance, how the drums feel on Guitar Hero World Tour. Drumming through long sections that require cymbals is just plain out fun. Some of the other changes feel a bit gimmicky, but overall it's a very solid experience and one that certainly isn't dwarfed by the competition.
In the long run this genre is anyone's game. I'd like to think that the two could peacefully co-exist but the pain of not being able to play a particular musician based on which game you have is going to eventually become too painful to bear.
Guitar Hero: World Tour was developed by Neversoft for the Xbox 360 and PS3, published by Activision and released on Oct. 26 for Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. The Band Kit retails for $189.99 USD. Completed single-player tour using guitar, played many songs using bass, drums and microphone and tested coop offline and on.
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