I live in the Cleveland, Ohio area and if you forgot, “Cleveland Rocks!”, so that means that I should be the perfect candidate to review a game like Guitar Hero World Tour. Living in the city that houses the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and hearing the former saying way too many times should automatically give me extra credit when writing a review about being in a rock band, right? Either way, over the following paragraphs I am going to try to give you my take on the latest game in the Guitar Hero series.
The Guitar Hero series started the rock and roll band game craze in 2005 over here in the States, even though GuitarFreaks had been around since 1998 in Japan and made limited appearances in arcades in North America. Guitar Hero was the king of rock and roll until a little game called Rock Band was released last year by the original developers of Guitar Hero. Rock Band changed the game by combining what made Guitar Hero, SingStar, and Karaoke Revolution popular and added a set of drums to the mix. In Rock Band three people could play lead guitar, bass guitar, and drums while another person sang along karaoke style. This allowed people to gather their friends over their house to form a band and take on the game together. This new rock revolution (no pun intended) made the basic Guitar Hero games look limited. Never fear, Neversoft, Activision, and RedOctane were not about to let Rock Band steal all the limelight and they announced that Guitar Hero 4 would add drums and vocals to the mix.
Guitar Hero 4 turned into Guitar Hero World Tour that is available now and if you buy the Band Kit version of the game you get a redesigned guitar, drums, and a microphone. You can also use your old Guitar Hero guitar for the bass guitar if you have one lying around the house. The redesigned guitar adds a new Star Power button next to the strum bar and a new slide bar that allows you to slide your fingers up and down the neck of the guitar to play special notes in the game. You can also hold the fret buttons like normal and tap the slide bar to play the notes instead of strumming the strum bar if you like. This new guitar play option is interesting, but I found it hard to switch between the fret buttons and the slide bar, since I could never get my fingers in the right place on the slide bar without missing some notes as I transitioned between the two areas on the neck of the guitar. You don’t have to use the slide bar for the special notes, but if you want to it adds another layer to the Guitar Hero experience. The rest of the new guitar works as expected and I like how it feels when playing better than the guitar that came with Guitar Hero III, since the whammy bar is longer and the body of the guitar is wider.
The new drum kit for Guitar Hero World Tour is also nice and has rubber padded drum heads that are lot quieter than the original Rock Band drums that had hard plastic drum heads. The drums also include three drums for red, blue, and green notes and two raised cymbals for yellow and orange notes. The elevated cymbals make the drums seem more elaborate than the standard Rock Band drum kit and I like how they feel better. The drums have a solid feel to them and look and feel a lot like more expensive real electronic drum sets that are on the market. The only problem is that looks can be deceiving and even though the drums look solid mine have already started having problems. My red drum pad will not register being hit unless I hit it really hard. This problem happened after playing the game some for this review and also using the drums to play Rock Band 2 that I got for Christmas, but I really haven’t used them that much. I was playing Guitar Hero World Tour one night and the drums were working perfectly and then the next day when I went to play again the red pad would not work right. I looked on Activision’s website and they offer some suggests when one of the pads or cymbals are not working correctly and they also suggest that you request the USB Midi adapter be sent to you so that you can adjust the sensitivity of the drum pads to supposedly fix the problem. I have requested one of these and hopefully it will resolve the problem once I receive it. If that doesn’t work then I may try to get the drums replaced via the 90-day warranty or resort to the Popsicle stick trick to solve the problem.
The microphone that is included with the game looks the same as the Logitech Vantage USB Microphone that comes with other singing music games and I think it is the same mic that comes with Rock Band. Unfortunately, you have to use the controller to pick the songs and other things if you decide to be the singer in the band, since the mic doesn’t have any buttons on it. The microphone worked nicely and I don’t have anything bad to say about it.
Guitar Hero World Tour is very similar to the other Guitar Hero games, except for now having the drums and singer options. If you are familiar with any of the other Guitar Hero games or Rock Band then you should know what to expect. The addition of the the drums and microphone helps make the game more entertaining with a group of friends over, since up to four people can now play all at the same time. Plus, if your friends are not at your house you can still team up with them online to jam as long as they have the game for the same system as you do. The basic concept of any of the Guitar Hero or Rock Band games is that you play along with the songs in the game by following the falling notes on the screen. When the notes of the different colors get to the bottom of the screen you strum the guitar while holding the correct fret button or hit the correct colored drum or cymbal. The singing part of the game has you singing karaoke style as the words flow across the top of the screen. Do all of this correctly and you will beat the song and unlock more music to play. Fail and the crowd will boo you off the stage. This reminds me of one thing that I don’t like about Guitar Hero World Tour in band mode. If one of the band members does bad then the whole band fails. A new feature they added into Rock Band 2 is the “No Fail” mode which allows my 5-year old son, which isn’t as good at the game, to still play along without us having to worry about starting the song over and over again.
Guitar Hero World Tour also allows you to make a pretty elaborate customized character to represent you in the game. I was able to make a guy that looked a lot like one of the Blue Man Group members. I made him bald with blue skin and he is wearing all black. You should be able to come up with a lot of different creations to set you apart when you play online. Guitar Hero World Tour also has the standard group of characters from previous Guitar Hero games, so if you want to still play as Lars Umlaut, Axel Steel, Judy Nails, and the others you can, plus they added a few more new characters to choose.
Speaking of customization, Guitar Hero World Tour also includes a Music Studio section that allows you to create and share your own music online. The studio allows you to pretty much create anything you would want as long as you have the patience to work through all the tracks and instruments. If you are someone that is a music major or someone that really enjoys writing music, then you may enjoy this section of the game, but I felt that it was a little too complicated and took too much time to get something to sound good for me to spend a lot of time on. I also wasn’t that impressed with the sound quality of the music you can create. I am guessing they really can’t make it any better, but all of the music created in the Music Studio has a midi synthesized music style. You also can’t record vocals for the music, so all of the Music Studio downloadable music seems to be missing something without lyrics. It would’ve been awesome if they could have somehow allowed people to add and upload their own music performed by their own band, but this would’ve probably become a copyright nightmare for Activision. If indy bands could somehow get their music online and into Guitar Hero or Rock Band that would probably open the door for them to a huge fan base, but how do you allow that type of music while preventing people from putting music from their favorite band online? I guess the only way is to only allow them to record midi music with no lyrics like Music Studio does.
The rest of the music included in Guitar Hero World Tour is a mixed bag and I really enjoyed some of the music, but other songs I hated and those seemed to be the ones I would fail over-and-over again. Their is over 80 songs in the game and some of them will probably appeal to everyone, but after the first few sets in the game it seemed like they introduced a lot of music and bands I had never heard of before. Maybe I am just not listening to the right radio stations or maybe they didn’t want to give us all the great music in one game, because then why would we want to pay for downloadable track packs and expansions? I would suggest looking over the Guitar Hero World Tour Soundtrack and make sure you like most of the music, because the music selection is what makes or breaks music games.
Guitar Hero World Tour’s graphics are to be expected for a Guitar Hero game and if you have played any of the other next-generation Guitar Hero games then you know what you will be getting. The stages in the game are extreme and exaggerated and entertaining if you are watching someone else play the game. If you are playing then you won’t have time to watch your character and the other band members performing in the background, since you will be too busy watching the notes falling down the screen. The crowd in each of the stages still looks kind of flat and they need to add more variety to the crowd members, since it is not uncommon to see the same person standing right next to him or herself. I saw four girls in the front row all in the exact same outfits while playing one of the stages.
The sound effects in Guitar Hero World Tour are good and if you miss notes you will here good feedback from the game to let you know that you have messed up. The music sounds good as long as you like the song you are playing. There isn’t much else to say about the sound effects and music in the game, because most of the game is the music and if you like the song then you will enjoy playing and if you don’t like the song then you will just be happy when you get through it.
Guitar Hero World Tour features a decent amount of online options. You can play in battle of the bands mode where four people can battle four other people online to see which band is better. You can also play one-on-one match ups. I did this using the drums and it worked perfectly and I didn’t notice any lag. It was like the other drummer was sitting in the same room with me. You can also download new songs via the PlayStation Store or Xbox Live Marketplace to expand the game’s soundtrack. Plus, there are a lot of free user-created songs to download via Guitar Hero World Tour Music Studio if you don’t want to pay to expand the games music list.
Guitar Hero World Tour takes the Guitar Hero series to the next level and helps it catch up with Rock Band that already made the leap last year. The new drum kit for Guitar Hero World Tour seems nicer than the Rock Band and Rock Band 2 drum sets, but that is if the tuning kit I am waiting for fixes the sensitivity problem with my red drum pad. This drum pad problem seems to be a very common occurrence and if you search on Google for Guitar Hero World Tour drum problems you will find a lot of information about them. The song selection also in Guitar Hero is really good a lot of the time but also really bad at other times. This may be the same for Rock Band and Rock Band 2 also, since I haven’t played those games as much as Guitar Hero World Tour, but it is worth checking out the soundtrack for each of the games before deciding on which one to get. It is nice that the Guitar Hero World Tour drum set will work with Rock Band 2 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with a patch and I have played Rock Band 2 with them and they work fine. All-in-all Guitar Hero World Tour is what I expected of the next Guitar Hero game in the series. They had to add drums and vocals to the game to catch up and I am happy with the results. I think both Rock Band 1 and 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour are great rock and roll music games and you will be happy with any of them. The biggest deciding factor is probably which game has more music you like, since at the end of the day a music game is a lot about the music it contains.
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