|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
When I first heard the Guitar Hero franchise was going to expand their horizons and add new band members to the formula, I was surprised. Until then, I thought everything was about the guitar in Guitar Hero. Even though its fierce EA / MTV / Harmonix competitor had offered players the chance to use drums and a microphone in addition to the already popular virtual guitar, I doubted the original music game franchise would be ticked enough to end up following their very steps.
Apparently, I was wrong, as Guitar Hero comes back this time around with a set of drums, a microphone, and of course, a new and sleek guitar design that is sure to please the masses. If you're in the process of choosing between Guitar Hero: World Tour or Rockband / Rockband 2, get ready to read, because the decision is going to be difficult!
First of all, the instruments are very comparable. World Tour's drum set is mostly made of plastic, it's wireless, and it has a different, color-coded layout. The structure holds three main drum pads and two cymbals, which are already included with the game (as opposed to Rock Band, where the cymbals are sold separately). Even when playing on Easy difficulty settings, players will have to hit all five pads, in addition to the bass pedal. World Tour's drum set is slightly quieter than its competitor, and it even has a nice nook where you can place the sticks when not using them. The soft rubber material used for the pads is close to ideal because, not only does it somewhat neutralize the extra noise, but it also provides a nice bounce. On the other hand, the kick pedal is not covered with a metallic plate (like Rock Band 2), but we haven't had problems with it so far.
As far as the guitar goes, players will notice the new guitar has a nice, wood-like finish. It's not exactly the same style as the one found in Rock Band 2, but it has a certain resemblance, which made me giggle when I first saw it. It's as if these two developers were at each other's throats and were using copycat tactics to get back at one another. I don't have anything against that; I just thought it'd be funny to point that out.
Other than that, the guitar is actually very different. It continues to be a Guitar Hero guitar with the five fret buttons apart from each other, but it also has a newly-added, touch-sensitive slide bar on the neck. This is a nice added feature, but it's not easy to get used to it. You can use the slide bar to perform "tap strumming" or hit "open notes," which are notes with a purple line running through them. These notes can also be played with the regular fret buttons, without the need of using the strum bar. Since players won't be forced to use the slide bar, I don't think many of them will actually make the transition, but we'll see. The new guitar also includes a couple of Start buttons and a nice Star Power button in addition to a joystick to be able to navigate through menus easily. The Star Power button is not here to replace the tilt activation. Instead, it comes as an alternative for those who always blame Star Power for making them miss notes. It may not work out for everyone, but it's nice that the developers gave it some thought.
The microphone, as expected, is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, it's not even wireless, which I thought was a downside. It's also quite difficult to become really good at singing in Guitar Hero: World Tour. No matter who was singing, none of us were able to achieve very high scores with it, even when playing on Easy mode. It's true that none of us are rock stars to start with, but we still expected it to be a bit more forgiving.
On the other hand, playing guitar and drums is as great as always. Players will be able to hop on Guitar Hero: World Tour and play on their preferred difficulty setting without a problem. Even those drummers who are used to the Rock Band drum set will have an easy transition. Guitar Hero: World Tour also provides a calibration tool, which adjusts the game to your HDTV response levels in order to ensure a lag-free experience. We did notice some lag when playing drums on Expert mode in the Wii version, but we don't know for sure if this will happen to everyone. This issue didn't exist when playing the Xbox 360 / PS3 versions though, which is nice.
In any case, the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions are, no doubt, the better versions. The crisp high-definition graphics, the ample storage capacity, and the faster loading times make it a better experience all the way around. However, it's not all bad news for Wii owners. Guitar Hero: World Tour for Wii is almost the exact same game and it's just as fun! All three systems offer great online play, a music studio, track downloads, deep character customization (not as deep on Wii), the same great song list, the same cutscenes and animations, and more. This time more than ever, the Wii version hasn't been left behind in terms of features and gameplay, which is awesome - it's exactly what we were all looking for. Enough with making the Wii look weaker than it is!
Guitar Hero: World Tour includes several classic game modes and a few more. There's Quick Play, Career Mode for both band and single-player, Co-Op play, Face-Off, Battles, etc. Career mode is perhaps not as complex as the one found in Rock Band, but it's also different from previous Guitar Hero titles. You'll have to play different gigs with the only goal to unlock songs and earn some cash. You'll have to play the songs in a specific order, and you'll only be able to reach the encore after beating each of the gig's songs. Also, the tracks are not very well organized. They're all listed in a random order and can't be sorted by artist, album, etc. This doesn't make it a bad game, it just seems like a bad choice, given the amount of songs already included on the disc and the ones people will end up downloading from the store. Another problem is the songs you unlock in different modes will only be available in those modes. Therefore, if you unlock something by yourself and then want to play it with your band on quick play, you won't be able to do so.