Guitar Hero is the game that helped define the music rhythm genre with its release in 2005. The series has taken a Madden-like approach with its sequels, updating playlists and adding subtle changes with each iteration (the only exception being the drastic change of Guitar Hero: World Tour by adding a singer and drummer to the mix). Now, in its fifth sequel, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock the single player game attempts to take a drastic turn with the creation of a story mode, the first of its kind in the rhythm genre by stepping away from the Tour Mode which has graced Guitar Hero and Rock Band for the past few years.
The gameplay of Guitar Hero can best be described as epically standard. If you picked up a plastic guitar back in the PlayStation 2 days of Guitar Hero, you will have no problem playing its 2010 version. A note highway cascades down the screen as players attempt to strum or drum each successive note. Bonuses are rewarded for streaks as players attempt to earn the most stars and points.
While other series are attempting to make a more realistic game experience with actual stringed guitars, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock sticks to what has worked for them in the past. Rock Challenges return to the game to try and add higher stakes during certain portions of songs to result in more stars and higher points.
The game does add small doses of change, most notably from the inclusion of the Rock Warriors in Story Mode. Each Warrior has their own power which affects their scoring, star power or various other aspects of how they progress through songs. While it may allow for added scoring during certain sections or a quicker build up of star power, this doesn’t really change the gameplay as the player should, at least in theory, still being trying to 100% every song regardless of the Warrior they are playing as.
The new guitar controller bundled in with this year’s game has a great feel to it with the exception of the area surrounding the strum bar. The axe style design looks fairly badass compared to previous more “classic” guitars but it can sometimes not feel like there is enough for a player to really rest their hand on. It does take a little getting used to. The strum bar and fret buttons however feel strong and solid, unlike some flimsier designs from other companies in the past.
In the beginning of September, the Flickcast did a four part post revealing the transformations of the eight Rock Warriors. Unknowingly, we ended up spoiling about a quarter of the game’s single player campaign for ourselves in the process. While these scene look great in the game’s unique art style, they felt like old hash by the time we saw them during our review playthrough.
Unfortunately, the story of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock isn’t anything to really write home about. There are a few metal references thrown in like the appearance of CBGB’s as a venue but the game doesn’t really benefit from any of them. Playing through songs until ultimately facing off against the Beast doesn’t feel like a player is being taken on an adventure. It just feels like playing through songs the same way we have for five other Guitar Heroes to just unlock cutscenes.
Warriors of Rock is a pretty game without a doubt. Shying further away from a realistic look, the game looks great with its trippy metal inspired designs and character models. The transformation cutscenes are well done (as you saw in our previous posts) and it is great to see that not only the main Warrior is changed but the entire band is as well.
The soundtrack of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is very unique to say the least. There is not much in the way of heavily commercially popular songs in it. For someone who is not a huge fan of Metal and its history, there are going to be a lot of music in it they have never even heard of. If a player is specifically not a fan of Rush, they are going to hate one of the middle sections in the game’s campaign where there is a full seven part section of Rush’s “2112”. Even some of the more Top 40 friendly songs like “Graduate” by Third Eye Blind or “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister have a strange feel to them as they are using re-recorded versions and not the original master tracks.
After over 25,000,000 units and sales and $2 Billion in revenue, it is understandable why Neversoft didn’t want to take too drastic a change with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Especially with the spinoff Band Hero , Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock dives further down the metal rabbit hole and sets itself apart with its very niche playlist. As with any music game purchasing decision, it is going to come down to the track list and if players still enjoy the same style of gameplay. Games like Madden have proven that annualizable titles are viable as long as the content in them stays relevant. It will be interesting to see how the sales on this year’s title compare to previous years as the genre has begun to feel stagnant. Unfortunately, the story mode doesn’t feel like it is going to be enough of a change to give the franchise a strong kick in the pants. It’ll also be interesting to see what next year’s version of the game is like after seeing how the more realistic guitar controllers of other companies fair as well.
XBox 360 (Also available on PlayStation 3 and Wii)
Price: $59.99 (Game Disc Only), $99.99 (Guitar Bundle), $179.99 (Super Bundle)