The once-prolific Guitar Hero series sees just one major release this year. Once upon a time, we could expect publisher Activision to pump out five or more guitar-based games a year. In 2010, there is only Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.
The follow-up to last year's unusually diverse Guitar Hero 5 focuses more on guitar-driven rock and heavy metal, also adding a mystical twist to the game's career mode. Warriors of Rock introduces Quest Mode, which tells the tale of a legendary axe, the Demigod of Rock and his imprisonment by The Beast. The rest is pretty much the Guitar Hero formula you've come to know and love/grown weary of.
The hardcore Guitar Hero player who wants ever more serious challenges from finger-blistering, hand-shredding speed metal and visits the Score Hero forums regularly. World of Warcraft players who want to play guitar music with night elves.
Why Should I Care?
Remember how good Guitar Hero 5 was? It was pretty good, loaded with ease-of-play feature improvements. Warriors of Rock builds on that base. It's just as easy to jump into - thanks to the group-friendly Party Play mode - and features all the addictive song challenges from the last one. Online play, competitive and cooperative modes, it's all here.
Awesome! How's Quest Mode? Kind of lame. What sounds like an interesting opportunity for role-playing adventure winds up being your standard Career Mode, but with Guitar Hero characters that transform into mummies, boar-men, elves and goblins. After transforming, they gain skill-modifying powers that lightly affect how you play songs and how they're scored. Quest Mode also features a bare-bones story narrated flatly by Gene Simmons from KISS and a playthrough of Rush's "2112" that features a stilted, monotone voiceover from the band. Good fan service, but also somewhat jarring.
Image (right): You can finally play as a super-powered pig man in a Guitar Hero game.
Thank the Rock Gods for Quickplay+ The super powers from Quest Mode can be employed in the game's Quickplay+ mode, opening up a new set of challenges and clever ways to improve your scores. So that's pretty cool.
At least it's got some rockin' tunes, right? That's your opinion. Mine? I didn't find much to like in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock's set list. I certainly found plenty to hate, like the reprehensible "Unskinny Bop" from Poison and "Bodies" by Drowning Pool, for starters. There are also a bunch of live versions of songs from previous Guitar Hero games (ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man"? Again?) and odd modern re-recordings, like Styx's "Renegade" and Foreigner's "Feels Like The First Time". Furthermore, Nickelback.
What about the rest of it? The music creation tool GH Tunes is still intact, finding a friend to play with online is a breeze, and sitting down with a group of fellow fake musicians to jam with is just as amusing as ever. And while I'm not a bug tester, Warriors of Rock did lock up on me once, during an online multiplayer session while playing Muse's "Uprising".
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock In Action
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock's debut trailer.
The girls of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock can transform into far less attractive cobra women, so don't get too attached. If you're looking for lurid camera angles, watch this teaser trailer.
Megadeth's "Sudden Death" on Expert difficulty proves that developer Neversoft isn't letting up on the challenge in Warriors of Rock.
Warriors of Rock features plenty of plugs, from ads for JC Penney to Coca-Cola product placement to CBGB's. Note Johnny Napalm in standard punk rock mode.
When Johnny transforms, he'll gain gameplay-modifying super powers. Characters each have their own unique ability, none of which will dramatically alter the way you play in Quest Mode.
Any semblance of realism is dashed when the rockers of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock transform into their super-powered alter egos.
The map for Warrior's of Rock's Quest Mode. You won't get lost on this linear journey. Promise.
If you find absolutely nothing wrong with Drowning Pool, love Megadeth and simply want to expand your Guitar Hero song library by another 90 songs of someone else's choosing.
Don't Buy It
If you're simply curious about Quest Mode. Spend the cash on new downloadable songs instead. Or wait for Rock Band 3 to see which band game is worth your time.
The Bottom Line
The core gameplay of Guitar Hero remains essentially unchanged, leaving much of the decision whether to invest in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock up to one's personal musical tastes. Quest Mode is more of a gimmick than an interesting innovation; thankfully, you don't have to play it to unlock most of the content. The addictive skill challenges of Quickplay+ and familiar Guitar Hero gameplay help to make up for the comparatively dull Quest Mode, but the rest of this Guitar Hero performance feels largely phoned in.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock was developed by Neversoft and published by Activision for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 28. Versions for the Wii and Nintendo DS were developed by Vicarious Visions. Retails for $US49.99-$US59.99/$AU89.95. A copy of the game, as well as guitar and drum controllers, were provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through Quest Mode on guitar and drums, played to rank 12 on QuickPlay+ and tested online multiplayer, all on Xbox 360.