james debate
james debate

Monday 10 November 2008

Wannabe rock gods all over the world can rejoice, the newest iteration of Neversoft's iconic games series has been released, and this time you can bring friends too!

This year, Guitar Hero World Tour has ripped off Rock Band in that you can now form a full band with guitar, bass, drums and vocals and play with your friends as you rock out the entire world.

ephemeric guitar hero world tour

So how good this game is will depend on the strengths of a few key areas, the song list, the extra features and of course, the gameplay itself.

The song list is pretty good, featuring a diverse mix of 86 songs that covers many oldie classics as well as modern hits and the end result is something that is definitely the best guitar hero set list yet. It is even better when you consider that they have the online store now, which while it currently sports a limited selection of tunes, will be expanded in the near future, including an upcoming 'the killers' package that I am very excited about (who doesn't want to play mr brightside?).

The problem is, when you look at Rock Band's set list in comparison, they get all the songs from previous Rock Band games as well as the new songs and the staggering list of songs currently on the Rock Band store which comes out to many many more songs that Guitar Hero has, and indeed many of the best Guitar Hero songs are also in Rock Band. In this regard I have decided to have faith in Guitar Hero that when the store takes of we'll have a lot of really top tracks.

In addition to the main gamplay modes that I will come to in a minute, Guitar Hero sports a first in the genre, a music creation studio, as well as GHtunes, in which songs can be traded and rated online. I was skeptical at first, but after hearing that the studio was going to be very similar to Apple's impressive garage band I was hopeful that it would be something special. Sadly I was very disappointed.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice feature and a good first effort, one that I'm sure will be improved upon in subsequent installations in the series. But to be frank it's just a little too basic. There are a lot of really in depth things like different amps and the ability to customize the scale you're playing which are much appreciated, but then you only have 5 tracks, lead, rhythm, bass, drums and keyboard, and you can't vary volume at different points in one track (aside from drums). Also you can't change keyboard sounds from one point in the song to the next, which is just silly, and as such it's hard to get any real variation in songs that are created here. There also are not enough effects for guitars, like no acoustic sound effect that I was looking forward to using. Lastly I have had a number of crashes whilst using the studio. I mean i can't remember the last time i had a console game that actually crashed!

On top of which you can't record vocals, nor can you exceed a very strict 3 minute limit on your songs. The quality is also not great, with a lot of songs on the store sounding like tinny megadrive game soundtracks. All in all it comes out as less than satisfying for a lot of effort. Hopefully it will be improved in Guitar Hero 5.

One of the best features in the game is the level of customization possible. You can design your own rock star in excellent detail, especially when it comes to the instrument where you can pick and paint and mold it anyway you want right down to what type of strings you use. You can also create a band logo for your band and album covers for the songs you make in the music creation studio. It's really fantastic and one of the biggest strengths in World tour. There is only one big flaw with this which i'll mention in a moment when I get to gameplay.

Long time fans will be glad to hear that the gameplay is as perfect as ever, and still far more fun to play than Rock Band. The drum set and microphone are well made and work well. However this is where the positives end. At the end of the day, the 'revolutionized' career mode that has done away with the traditional list of songs you play through is nothing more really than a lot of little lists of songs that you play through at your discretion, with none of the bells and whistles, events, fans, merchandise, fame and all kinds of things are part of being a band these days, that Rock Band has.

As such you really can't help but feel like they could have done something a bit more here as it just gets old a bit quickly, especially if you're playing single player.

Which brings me to my next point, that single player is woefully under-appreciated. As I mentioned, customization is one of the best parts of the game, and I was quite looking forward to designing my own rock band. The problem is, when you play single player you just control one guy, and everyone else in the band is randomized with every song you play, which is just plain weird... even solo artists have designated backing bands. And this of course means that while you can craft your rock star with a specific look and instrument, you can play a gig with a bunch of weirdos who look completely at odds with your image and really ruin the look of the game. Another similarly glaring oversight is that you can't play your custom songs in this career mode. It seems the most obvious thing in the world that in a game where you can design your own band, and write your own songs that you should be able to put the two together and have your band play your songs, but you can't for some reason, you can only play the songs in quick play with a randomly generated band. It's pointlessly stupid little bad choices in game design that really hamper your enjoyment with this game.

Aside from these little niggles and issues however it is still classic Guitar Hero, and definitely better than old guitar hero games, though in many ways it has a lot of work to do to catch up with Rock Band, though indeed it also has its own benefits.


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