The Guitar Hero series has been a very popular one over the past few years and I've played it since the very first one came out on the PS2. Last year it was Neversoft’s first try at continuing the series and they didn’t do too bad. With the popularity of Rock Band, it was inevitable that the one to start the popularity of musical instrument games on the consoles would also move into offering a full band experience. So a year later, Neversoft is back with Guitar Hero World Tour and this time the drums and mic are along for the ride.
The gameplay’s basically the same as past games and Rock Band so I’ll go over it briefly. Notes come down a fret line and it’s your job to match the pattern and strum the bar for the guitar or hit the right pad for the drums. The more notes you get correct the higher the score. Miss too many and you will fail the song. With singing, you have to match the pitch in order to get points. Unlike Rock Band, the timing needed for Guitar Hero World Tour and past games is a little bit more generous. So, you can be a little bit off and be OK as the game will still register it as a success whereas Rock Band forces you to be a little more accurate. I tend to gravitate towards the Guitar Hero style of registering hits as it does make it a little more fun when it's more forgiving. There are some new features though and compared to Rock Band there are some major differences.
I do like the set list of Guitar Hero World Tour perhaps a little but more than Rock Band 2's default set list. But, like all music this is all a matter of personal preference. The one caveat though is that since this is the first one in the series to feature the full band setup, no songs from the previous Guitar Hero game with the exception of Metallica's Death Magnetic will transfer over. This leaves the set list to be a little limiting compared to Rock Band initially until more DLC is issued. Seeing as how you can port Rock Band 1 songs as well as DLC over to Rock Band 2, the amount of sales does pale in comparison to Harmonix's game and there are some songs that transcend both titles. Even so, there are some differences that you might enjoy and I for one found the set list to be pretty good. But, there is the song creator where you can download a multitude of use and company creations or create your own that will help a little bit before more official songs come out.
If you are into just quick playing, one nice thing you can do is setup a sequence of up to six songs to play. This makes it more streamlined than in Rock Band when playing multiple songs. No longer are you taking out of the game and asked to choose another song as this will help speed up play if you plan on playing a few of them in a row. It's a nice feature for those that just want to play a few songs and call it quits. Going into the "story mode", you'll be playing various gigs and an encore. If completed you can move onto other gigs and usually have a few to choose from so you aren't stuck at one available. The gigs are pretty basic and there aren't any little side items you can achieve like in Rock Band. I didn't have any problems with it but for future games, I do like to see a little more interactivity with the story mode.
The user interface does need some work and there's one example I will give you that I hope will change in future games. Unlike Rock Band, you have to set the difficulty level before you play the songs. That means you can't alter how hard the game is between songs. This can be pretty frustrating for players who aren't proficient on all the songs at a certain level. What this does is force you to choose a difficulty one below what you are comfortable at so that you aren't the one holding back your band mates if you fail. I don't know why Neversoft decided to go this route but it's caused more headaches in testing with players of various levels than it needed to be.
For the guitar there are some additions to the gameplay in this year’s version. On the harder difficulty levels, there will be sections of sequential long notes. It starts out with one long note and while that’s still active, a second one will come down. With two in play, a third long note will also scroll down so you eventually end up holding three long notes. Also, there's an area where you can use t he touch slider but I'll touch more on that in a minute. If you are playing bass, there’s a change for you as well. There's an addition of the strum without a fret button. It will come down the note line as a straight purple line just like a bass drum line and in essence acts like a sixth note. While nothing really Earth shattering, it is nice for the bass to get a little different gameplay tweak unlike in Rock Band 2.
One nice thing that Neversoft did was do a countdown of when the song starts if you come out of pausing the game. I don't know how many times in Rock Band where I had to pause it, come back and be off the notes I was suppose to be holding. With Guitar Hero World Tour, you do see the notes screen as you left it and it counts down from 5 giving time to get ready. It's a small but really nice touch instead of just throwing you back into the game at full speed which is what Rock Band does.
The Guitar Hero style is pretty much the same as it was compared to 3 so expect your usual cast of characters and in the same look that you are used to. Creation of a player though is more robust than Rock Band's allowing you plenty of more options. For starters you can adjust the head shape and various parts of the head such as the eyes and chin to suite your liking. Tattoos and face paint can be created by overlapping different layers and change the color. You can even adjust the types of animations for introductions, winning, and losing. It's in this area where you can spend the money you earn in the game to buy clothing and instruments to decorate your rock star. You can even design your own instruments which is really cool. Whereas I felt the Rock Band's band member creator was limiting, the one in Guitar Hero World Tour stands out well and has enough options to make unique looking people.
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