Harmonix has changed the music genre of video games twice: the first time was with the original Guitar Hero in 2005, and then they revolutionized the music game again in 2007 with Rock Band. Guitar Hero was left to Activision and Neversoft when Harmonix started Rock Band, and now the two franchises are competing against each other. Guitar Hero: World Tour (GHWT) is Activision's answer to Rock Band as Guitar Hero now makes the move to a full band setup, but can it really compete with Rock Band?
GHWT's heavy hitter is supposed to be the band play. You know, that thing Rock Band pulled off so successfully a year before this game came out? Well, World Tour has brought in the full band setup with only very mild success. Band play is just plain fun because you can get up to three other people to play cooperatively with you, and that fun never really wears off. However there are issues with drum gameplay and vocals that hurt the band play considerably.
The drums have a few issues that make playing them a pain at times. If you bought the band kit for this game, unless you're REALLY lucky, your drums are broken, and you need to order a cable and download Drum Tuner software from Activision to fix them. Even after fixing them, though, the game likes to make you occasionally miss a note when you're playing perfectly. Star Power is a pain also as you need to hit both cymbals at once, and it's hard to integrate an offbeat hit and hitting both cymbals when you're supposed to hit one often makes you miss the note. The drums are also very hard to hear while you're playing, even with the drum sound turned all the way up. And to top it all off, the drum parts are really hard, making it difficult to improve. Let's just say that drum gameplay from Activision's music games is in need of a lot of fine-tuning.
Attempting to sing in GHWT is an ordeal as well. If you know the song well then there isn't really an issue with performance, but the lyrics are shown on the screen in a small font that's really hard to read, so if you want to sing you'd better learn the song before you give it a stab unless you just want to hum all the way through, which is really boring. There also isn't any kind of gauge telling you how well you're doing throughout the song, and when you finish it seems like you're awarded some random score and star rating and you don't know why you got it. So unless you know the song well, singing is also a pain.
Guitar/bass gameplay, though, is as spot-on as ever in this franchise, and there are a few new elements added that are mostly very good. The slider on the neck of the new guitar controller can be used for special sections of the song where you don't have to strum and can either hit the notes on the frets or tap them on the slider, which is fun to do but sometimes slider sections are poorly integrated or randomly thrown in without much purpose. It's also impossible to reach back to the frets after the slider sections end without missing a note, so if you want to use the slider you'd best use your strumming hand. The bass gameplay has had open notes added to it, which does make it more realistic and is overall a nice addition. So while vocal and drum gameplay don't really hold up well, playing guitar or bass is still a whole lot of fun.
But of course, all of this would be for naught if the setlist lacked fun songs. GHWT has plenty of awesome songs of varying styles and difficulties, but also plenty of duds. 'Crazy Train,' 'Beat It,' and 'Sweet Home Alabama' are but a few of the ridiculously fun songs to play in the game. There are also many songs, though, that aren't any good at all, namely the three songs by Tool that feel long, repetitive, and boring, among other songs. Whether the songs are good or bad, though, there is plenty of variety here both in difficulty and style, with songs ranging from classics like 'On the Road Again' to hard rock/metal songs like 'Trapped Under Ice.' The difficulty also builds up nicely as you advance in the game, on guitar and bass anyways.
GHWT's Career mode may attract your attention at first, but it will turn you off just as quickly. The biggest flaw here is that each instrument has a separate career, so if you got to the end of the game on guitar but want to play drums, you have to start the drums from the very beginning. There's even a fifth career for the full band. This is a huge pain because you can't pick up from where you left off if you want to change instruments. The Career is also very linear still, where you play a set of songs to unlock another set of songs. This time you can at least choose from a number of different sets to play, but you can reach the end of the game without beating nearly all of them. GHWT's Career is, in short, a pain. It's unfortunate that you don't have all the songs from the beginning of the game.
Once you have all the songs you like, though, you can just play them as much as you want in Quickplay. There are also plenty of solid online modes including an 8 player Battle of the Bands, unfortunately you do need four people present to play it. There are enough other modes for online to let you play however you want, though. The Wii version of GHWT also has a Mii Freestyle mode where you can play whatever you want while your Mii rocks out on screen, but this mode loses its entertainment value after about 30 seconds. There is also a deep music studio where you can record and edit your own songs to play, which is a great addition to the game. You can download any songs that other people have uploaded to Wi-Fi also, which is really cool. The only downside to the music studio is also its greatest strength: it's way too complicated to try and figure out unless you really get into it, and if you do then you have nearly limitless value to find in GHWT.
GHWT has also introduced massive customization features, which are mostly quite good. You can create your own characters, guitars, and band logos, and there are tons of detailed options for each. Sometimes the detail is overwhelming, even to the point where you don't want to bother with every single detail. The customization is really quite impressive.
Oh no, we have reached the graphics section of this review. Oh man, the Wii version's graphics are quite terrible. Performance animations aren't very energetic or creative; the characters generally stick to a very small circle and don't move outside of it. The instrument playing animations have no realistic look to them either, especially the drummers whose motions are very poorly animated. The visual quality is also almost as low as it gets: things aren't very clear, there are no lighting effects (even when something is exploding), backgrounds often are made up of 2-D parts, the list goes on. I mean, when something is on fire, you would expect to see more than what looks like a fire-shaped piece of cardboard on it, right? Well, I would, anyways. Let's just leave it at this: GHWT's graphics on Wii show an apparent lack of effort, and look very poor.
Thankfully the graphics can't ruin a game like Guitar Hero, because the most important thing is that the gameplay is fun (especially seeing as you can't really watch the performances while playing the game). Well, most of the gameplay, there are definitely issues with drums and vocals, but guitar and bass gameplay is still great fun and have some cool new features. The song list is also very diverse and has enough great songs to keep you playing for a while. There are definitely some issues in Guitar Hero: World Tour, but in the end it's still a very fun game.
+ fun to play as a band
+ new guitar gameplay elements work nicely
+ song list is diverse and includes plenty of great songs
+ deep and rewarding music studio
+ tons of customization features
- drum gameplay has issues
- fonts are hard to read
- career is a pain and too linear
- the graphics look very poor
LAST WORD: Guitar Hero: World Tour can by no means compete with Rock Band because the drum and vocal gameplay need a lot of help. It's worth owning for the many great songs in it, though, and there are a few nice efforts in the areas of customization and guitar gameplay. Those along with the great songs make GHWT recommendable.
(422 customers reviews )
Customers Rating=4.0 / 5.0
More Detail For Guitar Hero World Tour
- Battle of the Bands mode lets up to eight players get their groove on
- Comes with exciting extras that enhance your experience
- Use the innovative Music Studio to compose, record, edit and share music
- Features a humungous selection of master recordings
- Offers more localized downloadable music than ever before
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