Guitar Hero World Tour

Review

posted 2/17/2009 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: 360
Of course the move to the full band mode is the big feature of Guitar Hero World Tour. World Tour includes a set of wireless drums and a wired mic as well this time around if you buy the complete kit. The mic is your standard USB mic and it remains the one peripheral that isn’t wireless. I’ll go into more detail about the drums in a bit. The mic is your average mic and like Rock Band you'll need to have a controller handy to control if you are singing. I'd love to see a mic with built in controls but I guess we'll have to see that in a third party controller or maybe in the next iteration of the series.

As far as instruments go, I found the guitar to be one of my favorite ones out of the various guitars included in past games. Before the Guitar Hero World Tour guitar, I would use the Rock Band guitar exclusively. I don’t know what it is about the Guitar Hero World Tour guitar but it just feels pretty good in my hand this time around. The buttons exhibit very good feedback and has a good throw to them. I like how it can unlock in two by sliding out the neck which was in the Les Paul of Guitar Hero III. New to the controller is the addition of the star power bar. The long button will activate star power by a push so you don't have to tilt the controller to do it. You can still do that of course but for those that used to press the select button this is a great addition. You are able to activate star power without taking yourself out of rhythm as much as you would by tilting it.

The unique feature of the guitar though is the touch slider bar near the bottom of the neck. During certain sections you’ll see notes linked together with a purple line. When this happens you can just put a finger on the slider which is broken up into the five color scheme depending on the area and just slide your finger back and forth to hit the notes without sliding. The thing is though it’s hard to gauge where your finger is and where it’s going to start out. For those that play in the higher levels who want the best accuracy out there, the slider feature is definitely not for you. But, when I didn’t care about getting 100% but just doing well, I had fun using the slider to slide through the string of notes. You can turn off the slider if you wish so you don’t accidentally hit it but like I said, I thought it was a fun and different way to play. Another feature is you could hold the fret buttons and tap the slider bar to play a note rather than strumming. Also, sliding on the touch slider bar during long notes will also generate a whammy like effect. I think the slider won’t be as popular as Neversoft hoped it would be as I’ve read a wide range of reactions to it but I thought it was fun and something I’d use consistently when playing Guitar Hero World Tour.

When I first saw the drums, I was very impressed with the design. The extra drum pad over Rock Band two allowed for two cymbals and three pad setup. It looked a lot cooler than the Rock Band drum set. I wished that the foot pedal attached to a part of the drum stand though. The bottom of the pedal contains a rubber coating that can keep it in place on carpet but smooth surfaces can cause it to slide around. For those that are concerned about the durability of the foot pedal, it is plastic and might exhibit the same issues as the Rock Band 1 foot pedal but only time will tell. It doesn’t sit as high though so you don’t have to go up and press down as much to use the pedal which is nice. The main three pads of the drum are quiet but the two cymbals are very loud. Seeing as they sit high and aren't attached to a large base but with two extending rods, I wasn't surprised about this. For those that like quiet drums, the Guitar Hero World Tour drums will be a little disappointing. As with Rock Band 2, the drums are velocity sensitive so if you do hit it harder it will register a louder sound. As with my experience on Rock Band 2, I found this feature to be something that I didn't notice at all. Perhaps I'm too into trying to get the right notes hit but I never did see much benefit of this and the only time I could really hear the difference was when I was in training mode. My drum set did exhibit some issues that seem to be rampant among other Guitar Hero World Tour customers. The red pad and orange cymbal are very inconsistent in registering a hit. I could hit it with all my might or with a soft tap and there’s a good chance the hit won’t register. I thought I was playing bad but I observed closely and saw I hit the same spot on the red pad with the exact same force and there were times nothing happened. Plugging the Rock Band drum set in, I was able to complete the same songs with a much higher accuracy level. Activision has issued software to try and fix this but you need a USB to midi cable which isn’t inexpensive. This isn’t the first game in the series and it’s disheartening to see quality issues appearing still.

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Activation of star power is also different in Guitar Hero World Tour for the drums and singer compared to Rock Band. Since the singer doesn’t have the tambourine or cowbell functionality, you can activate star power anytime by hitting the top of the mic. An easier technique is pressing one of the color buttons on the Xbox 360 controller. I have no problems with how this works but when you get to the drums, a problem arises. Now, I understand Neversoft’s decision to find a way to let the drummer activate star power at anytime and I applaud them for doing so but the method to do this does have some issues. To activate star power if you’re the drummer, you have to hit both cymbals at the same time. Sounds easy but the drum sections, especially at the harder levels allow for very little open areas to let you do this. You can try to sneak in a double cymbal hit between beats but it’s tough and for those that aren’t semi-proficient with the instrument you can easily interrupt your flow by doing this causing you to miss notes. I did find that if there’s one cymbal in play, I can hit the other and activate star power with this note pattern without the game saying that I missed the note. Still, the method isn’t optimal and I think there needs to be another way to do this. If you are using Rock Band drums, just hit the two center pads to achieve the effect. The freedom to activate star power at anytime is something I do like over Rock Band but Guitar Hero World Tour eliminates a small gameplay feature for the singer to do this and the drummer’s technique can be tough to do on harder levels.

Speaking of star power, the one thing I really dislike about Guitar Hero World Tour is that when you are playing in a band, everyone shares one star power meter. Everyone can build it up but the first person to activate it will get the benefits. Unlike Rock Band where each band member had their own star power meter, the single star power meter in Guitar Hero World Tour can cause some frustration at times. You’ll get the star power hog in many games where he or she will activate it every time the meter is at the minimum level. This makes for those that are about to fail their part of the song to sometimes have no way to save themselves. I understand the design decision to try to unify this option to make it more of a band collaborative feature but the results are not very good. Even though the person using the star power won’t use it all if it’s built up high, it’s still annoying when you do play with that one person who uses it all the time. On a positive note, you can now acquire star power even when activated just like in Rock Band by playing the marked notes successfully. Now, the usage of star power isn't as limiting as in Guitar Heroes of the past and you can do a nice continual buildup of it during use on some sections of some songs.
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