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Guitar Hero – World Tour Review – New Instruments Rock But the Song Creator Fails to Impress
Guitar Hero – World Tour
Systems: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Genre: Music Rhythm
Single-player length: 25 hours
Developer: Neversoft Entertainment
Release Date: 10/26/08
– Drums, vocals and band play add a lot to the series
– Online band competitive and co-op modes
– New guitar gameplay challenges
– User created songs aren’t fun
– Not as many interesting or updatable challenges as Rock Band
– Too similar to Rock Band
World Tour follows in Rock Band’s footsteps by adding drums, vocals and a band career, but it also adds a few new features. A robust song creator engine lets you create your own songs and download others’ songs, but the resulting songs are all low quality productions that aren’t as fun to play as original popular songs. While the drum and vocal gameplay don’t differ much from Rock Band, the guitar gameplay does include a few new features that will challenge seasoned veterans in new ways.
The main addition to the series is the inclusion of drums, vocals and band gameplay modes that are nearly identical to the experience created by the first Rock Band game. The only difference from Rock Band’s drums and vocals gameplay is that you can use your star power at any point during a song rather than waiting for drum or vocal solo sections. Each instrument has solo sections, but they are only used to give you bonus points rather than starting your star power. Activision made a new set of drums for World Tour that includes cymbal pads raised above the other drum pads and a new guitar with fret buttons further down the neck. Don’t worry if you already own older versions of these instruments. You don’t need to buy these new variations to play the game.
Each of the instruments, including the bass guitar, has its own career mode. In each career, you’ll progressively tour the world and unlock new and more difficult songs. For each set you complete, you’ll receive money for how well you perform, which you can use to customize your character’s clothes, hair, instruments and a wide variety of other features. You can also use your earnings to gain access to a few exclusive sets of songs. If your primary interest is to unlock all of the game’s songs, you can also choose to change the game’s difficulty to progress beyond the harder songs.
In addition to simply playing songs, you’ll also face off against famous musicians during your career. Guitar Hero III handled these encounters with a battle mode where you had to make your adversary fail a song by using powerups that made the song more difficult for your opponent to play. World Tour simplifies these encounters by merely asking you to perform the song well enough to prevent the audience from completely favoring your opponent, which is much less challenging. After you defeat famous rockers, such as Jimi Hendrix, Ozzie Osbourne, and Billy Corgan, you’ll be able to perform using their likenesses.
The Band career mode is also nearly identical to the Rock Band gameplay where you go on stage with at least one other friend to play the same songs and earn cash to further customize your characters. The main difference is that you can’t directly save each other from failing songs. The game handles saving members by letting the band share star power among its members. The result is that your group will need to collaborate and use the star power strategically. If one member is missing a ton of notes, then the band will need to let the other members earn the star power and tell him to use it to ensure everyone doesn’t get booed off stage.
World Tour is clearly trying to broaden its audience by lowering the overall difficulty settings and adding the new beginner mode. The Guitar Hero series is known to have more difficult note patterns, but World Tour has noticeably easier note patterns that also fly by at a slower speed. As a result, the Rock Band and World Tour difficulties are virtually identical. The new Beginner difficulty serves to allow people completely new to rhythm gaming to play by simply hitting any note at the correct time without having to switch fingers between notes.
While drums and vocals are included for the first time in the series, the guitar gameplay also changed to add new note patterns. There are some new sections with multiple notes that you must hold down that begin at varying points. Some other notes only require you to press the fret buttons to play them. Removing the need to strum the guitar for these sections makes the game easier and detracts from the feeling that you are playing a famous song. The only reason it seems that they included these simpler notes is to give people a reason to buy their new guitar. The latest guitar includes buttons positioned closely together lower on the guitar neck, which are easier to glide across in these simpler sections. Don’t worry if you want to play the game with an older guitar you shouldn’t have any problems by using the standard fret buttons.
The last main change to the series is the ability to make your own songs and download other gamer’s songs. Initially this sounds like a cool new feature, but it doesn’t amount to a very large addition. Making your own songs involves choosing an instrument and playing notes to record your song. You can also record notes for each instrument to generate a song that a full band can play together. After you finish creating the song’s notes you can alter the sound further with various effects, such as giving the guitar track a twang or metal effect, the song’s tempo and a wide variety of other features. Then you can upload your creation for others to play and rate. If you just want to download other people’s songs, you can easily find the most popular songs based on the ratings other players give them. While the creation process is robust, the actual songs have a low sound quality. The highest rated songs generally have a great sense of rhythm, but they just aren’t as engrossing as playing the well-known songs heard on the radio.
World Tour includes quite a few online multiplayer game modes. You can face off against another guitar, drum or vocals player to see who is better at playing an entire song or alternating sections of the same song. Guitar players can also play the battle mode, where they compete to play a song more accurately while using powers to increase their opponent’s difficulty. As you play in the Battle mode, you earn a wide variety of powers that invert note patterns, remove the whammy bar’s effect, or make some notes impossible to play. You can also play songs co-operatively on the guitar with a friend.
If you can’t get enough band mates together locally, then you can fill in missing members with online players the game finds for you. You can also get your band together to play songs competitively against another band online. The only problems I found with the band gameplay online is that it is very difficult to find someone to sing songs, but that’s not the game’s fault. Even if a singer joins your band, many players quit because they can’t sing the song that is chosen by other members. I presume this happens because it is much harder to sing songs than it is to play them with an instrument.
The game play options and modes are quite expansive, but it would have been nice if updatable challenges could have made it into the game. Rock Band 2 includes a variety of challenges related to playing groups of songs from the same band, genre or decade with particular instruments or as a band. The developers constantly update the challenges list to ensure players never get bored with the same list of challenges. This constantly updated list of challenges gives the game a great sense of variety as players endlessly challenge themselves to get the highest score in all the different leader boards.
The game includes a lot of songs that you can play in 4 different careers, but there is also a great online shop that offers an expanding library of new songs to download and play. Taking its cue from the Rock Band store, you can sort songs according to artist, decade and album to easily find the style of music you like. You can also preview songs before purchasing them, which increases the chance you will try something from a band you haven’t heard before.
The game includes over 90 songs, which are all master recordings. In addition to popular songs ranging from classic rock to the latest rock songs from this decade, the game also includes some pop and country hits, such as Beat It and On the Road Again, which further expands the game’s appeal. A lot of the game’s draw depends on if you like the songs included with the game, so make sure to review the song list before buying the game.
World Tour pushes the series to match Rock Band’s offering by including drums, vocals and band game play, while also adding new guitar note patterns. The varied and expansive online game modes and growing down loadable song library ensure that the game will keep you entertained for quite some time. The engine used to create new songs offers a great deal of options, but the resulting lower quality songs will likely only interest the most hardcore of rhythm gamers who enjoy a good challenge. Many of the game’s changes simply match Rock Band’s features and fail to push the series or genre forward a great deal. Overall, World Tour is a good game that will keep gamers rocking until the next game is released, but it is also showing that the genre’s creativity may be peaking.
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