Guitar Hero World Tour Review

If you listen to the podcast then you will know I am a huge Guitar Hero fan. I have defended it against Rock Band 2 multiple times. Guitar Hero World Tour was one of my most anticipated games this year but is it a disappointment? Or is it really a Rock Band 2 killer?

So here we are again. Another music based rhythm game for the current generation of consoles. I’d like to think I’m a professional in the music genre by now. I started with Guitar Hero 2, and since then I’ve played Guitar Hero 3, Rock Band, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Rock Band 2. I have not yet played the most recent music game, Rock Revolution, but then again I don’t think anyone played that. Music games are always very similar, consumers usually make their purchasing decision based on songs and what new features the game has added to make itself stand out.

The Guitar Hero franchise has traditionally stuck to guitars for their past games but with World Tour they added in drums and a microphone. I’m sure everyone’s first question is how are the peripherals. The answer is, great! The peripherals for Guitar Hero World Tour are awesome, better than the Rock Band peripherals. The microphone is not that different but the drums and guitar sure are. The drums feel alot better! Most people were worried that by adding two high hats (two elevated pads) onto the drums it would disrupt the feel and play of them. This is not the case at all. It is easy to get used to and feels more authentic to play. The guitar is also miles ahead of the Rock Band 2 guitar. The major addition to the guitar is the touch pad. The touch pad is a welcome addition but an unnecessary one. They remind me of the solo buttons in Rock Band 1and 2. They are a neat idea but they were not needed. We didn’t need a touch pad. It works fine but like the solo buttons it really was not needed. The parts of the song that can be played with the touch pad are marked by transparent notes. Personally after trying the touch pad a few times I didn’t bother with it. I would play those sections normally, in fact the sections that are done in transparent notes that are for the touch pad can just be hammered on. You don’t have to strum for those parts, even with the normal guitar buttons, you don’t need the touch pad. Maybe it’s just me but I like the standard five button control scheme. I don’t want any touch pads or solo buttons. It may just take some getting used to but for now I see the touch pad as a cool and welcome addition but not one the we really needed. That being said all the instruments are still miles ahead the Rock Band 2 ones.

One thing before I go on is that I would like to mention a small but important feature. In the previous music games I would hate how after pausing the game and then clicking resume it would throw you right back in the game. It would be almost impossible to hit the first few notes after resuming from a pause. In Guitar Hero World Tour after you hit resume from the pause menu it gives you a five second countdown to get ready before the notes start again. This makes it much easier to hit those notes after a pause and is a much appreciated addition.

Another minor tweak they made that I appreciate is that in the last Guitar Hero and Rock Band games let’s say you did a career on expert and got stuck near the end. You couldn’t just switch to hard and continue on. If you switched to hard you had to do a whole new career. With Guitar Hero World Tour they switched it up. Now you have one career. Before you get into the set list selection screen you choose your difficulty. You have one career for all difficulties. This means if you do the first few sets on hard and find you should really be playing on medium that is not a problem just switch to medium and continue on. The best part is every song has a marker beside it showing which difficulty you beat it on so it’s real easy to tell which songs you have passed on which difficulties.

The design and UI of Guitar Hero World Tour is almost identical to Guitar Hero 3. All the menus and layouts and graphics are very similar. The story is told in the same way it was in Guitar Hero 3. Short animated cut scenes with no dialogue. There really is not much of a story though. The crazy stage set ups, bizzare stage effects and odd creatures that appear on stage in Guitar Hero 3 are back in Guitar Hero World Tour. The design was pulled right from Guitar Hero 3.

The gameplay hasn’t changed much either. You still have the usual suspects, a scroll board, notes, hammer-ons, pull-offs, a note counter, star power meter etc. When playing with a band the set up is almost identical to Rock Band. If you have ever played or seen a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game you know what to expect here. Nothing new in that area. One thing different from Rock Band is that if a member of the band fails you can not save them, everyone fails out.

There are your standard career modes for each instrument and a band career mode. You can name your band, create logos, and everything else you would expect. The career mode is the same as in previous games. Play set lists and advance on, with the occasional boss battles. Although in Guitar Hero World Tour it has been tweaked a little bit. Now instead of playing set list after set list you have gigs. One gig may have five set lists with each set lists containing 2, 3 or 4 songs plus an encore. You only have to complete a couple of set lists to move onto the next gig. With the band career mode you can play online so that’s always a good thing. As you go through the career you can earn money to buy items in the shop. Exactly like in previous games. The career can be completed very quickly considering you may only have to do one or two sets before moving on to the next gig/level, although there are plenty of gigs if you choose to play them all. Boss battles do return in the career but power-ups are gone. Before you start complaining, don’t worry, you can still do battle with power – ups in online modes and versus but in career there are no power-up based battles. These battles do pit you against various bosses. The bosses are real musicians like Ted Nungent or Sting but the battles are more of a face off than anything. There is a meter in between your fret board and your opponents fret board. You play the entire song and the point is to end the song with the arrow all the way on your side of the meter. That is how you win. Even if you don’t win though you can still continue on with the set list and the game will mark off the battle as completed.

Of course as in previous games there is a character customization mode. The mode is sufficient but once again it’s the same as any other music game. Speaking of characters one thing I really enjoyed was seeing a bunch of new characters in the game. In Guitar Hero 3 you were able to play as rock and roll icons such as Slash and Tom Morello. In this game you have a lot more characters to choose from. You encounter these characters in career mode and have to unlock them. You can choose from characters such as Sting, Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nungent etc.

The biggest addition to Guitar Hero World Tour is the music studio and GH Tunes. Music studio lets you create your own songs and then publish them to GH Tunes. In GH Tunes you can preview, browse and download other user created songs. You can lay down drums, bass and guitar tracks but no vocals. While this seems like a good idea on the surface it’s not all fun and games. GH Tunes has the potential to be a mess. Currently there are not that many songs on but when the game is released worldwide there are gonna be people putting up songs left right and center and the way the interface is on GH Tunes now, might make it a bit hard to find what you are looking for. Now Acitivision has thought of this and they have various ways/categories that you can browse by and before you upload your song it has to meet certain criteria yet I think it is going to be very hard to find the best songs or find what you are looking for. There is a section called Top Rated which may help show off the best songs but with potentially thousands of songs being created it is going to be interesting to see how well it holds up. Another thing is that you only start with a few slots to upload songs, kind of like how Bungie’s File Share works in Halo 3. You can name your song, set the genre and all that but to gain more slots to be able to upload more you must download and rate other songs.

The other thing about this whole idea is that it’s not the easiest thing to create a song. Now don’t get me wrong, there are tutorials and for the most part almost anyone will be able to lay down a solid guitar track or drum track but to really create a full song will take some time and skill. The recording studio can get quite complex, you start by choosing your tempo and beat and then you lay down the tracks and then you can mix it. With the tutorials it isn’t to hard to figure out what’s going on, but to really create a fun, good song might be tough. I was hoping to be able to create songs from my favorite artists like the Beatles and Rolling Stones. I’m sure people will be able to but only people with experience in music and sound mixing and recording. When laying down tracks each button is a different note and you can play around with scales, add effects and all that but like I said unless you put in the time to really learn the system or have a prior experience in the field then your not going to be creating great songs.

Guitar Hero World Tour has all the usual online modes one would expect. You have 1vs1 and 2vs2 modes of Face Off, Battle, and Pro – Face off. You can also play Band vs Band. The online does not lag from what I could tell and if you enjoyed Rock Band or previous Guitar Hero’s online modes you’ll enjoy these modes, it’s more of the same.

The most important aspect of any music game is always the songs. In my opinion the set list here is much better than Rock Band 2. Once again though it is all based on opinion. Some of my favorite songs in this game are Band on the Run by the Wings, Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz, Santeria by Sublime and Hotel California by the Eagles. This is my opinion though, you may hate all those songs I previously mentioned. I’m not going to talk to much about the songs because it really does depend on what music you like but I personally love the set list and prefer it to Rock Band 2. The songs also all feel like they are charted really well unlike alot of the songs in Guitar Hero 3 that felt over charted. While on the topic of charting I’d like to add that overall this game is easier than Guitar Hero 3. In terms of difficulty it is best compared to Rock Band 2. It has its tough songs but overall it’s not that bad, nothing like Guitar Hero 3. I’m playing through on expert and I’m having no problems.

One of the things this game lacks is depth. The gameplay and modes all feel very shallow, especially when compared to Rock Band 2. The band world tour mode in Rock Band 2 is far better than what you are presented with in Guitar Hero World Tour. Overall the game just feels shallow on features and modes and lacks that depth we saw with Rock Band 2. There is no challenge mode, no hiring of staff for your band, no playing charity gigs or filming music videos. This was all seen in Rock Band 2, but the band career in Guitar Hero World Tour is the same as the solo career, shallow.

Being an achievement whore I always look at the achievements in video games. Guitar Hero 3 has notoriously hard achievements and it’s a good thing Activision listened to the community for this game. They have changed the achievements drastically and for the most part they are very easy. I think I could get all 1000 points in this game. You have the usual ones for beating the careers on each difficulty, you have ones for getting certain scores on certain songs, there are achievements for playing as different unlockable characters and so on. One thing I did not like is that a handful of achievements require you to be playing with 4 people in a band. If you do not have people in real life to play with your gonna have to find 3 people online who can help you with the achievements. Although with the amount of people who will buy the game that shouldn’t be to difficult. Overall the achievements are easy and you should have little or no problem with them.

The main problem I have with Guitar Hero World Tour though is that not enough has been changed, nothing stands out and says “hey buy me instead of Rock Band 2”. It feels like they took Guitar Hero 3, made a few minor tweaks and added a couple instruments and pushed out Guitar Hero World Tour. With such competition coming from Rock Band 2 one would think they would really revamp the series and make it the clear choice of being the one music game you need to own this holiday season. This being said, Guitar Hero World Tour is not a bad game at all. It’s just the same game as Guitar Hero 3 for the most part. If you like Guitar Hero 3 though then you have nothing to worry about. I personally love music games and I love this game, I just felt like it was a bit of a let down since there really weren’t that many new features implemented, it feels recycled. It’s still a fun game though.

Guitar Hero World Tour is a solid game, it takes a old formula, adds a few tweaks and produces a nice package. The only real complaint I have is it is way to similar to Guitar Hero 3 and it feels a bit rushed. I was hoping they would really go all out on this game but it turned out to be a bit of a let down. Sure the music studio is cool but how many people are really going to use it properly and create good songs or covers? If you like music games then for sure check this game out, it doesn’t do much wrong and you will enjoy it. If you already have Rock Band 2 though and are tight for money I would think carefully before spending the money. Aside from the better set list (in my opinion) and the music studio there really isn’t much different that makes it stand out. If you have enough money though and feel like playing some new songs then pick up Guitar Hero World Tour, you won’t regret it.

Guitar Hero World Tour – 8/10

Let us know what you think! Leave a comment on the review.


2 Responses

  1. suck

  2. you got nothin on my gamer

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