Monday, December 15, 2008
Guitar Hero: World Tour was released a few weeks back, and after lots of troublesome issues, not with the game itself, I have finally gotten the time to play the game enough to review. With World Tour, the Guitar Hero brand has expanded from just the guitars to include both vocals and drums, and perhaps one-upping Rock Band, but that is for you to decide.
The first thing I want to discuss is the instruments themselves. The guitar feels very similar to the GHIII guitar, due to the fact that the fret buttons are the same, however, there are many important changes to note. The minor changes include a button below the strum bar that is used to activate star power, although you can still tilt the guitar for the same effect. The whammy bar is also extended and feels good. The main change to the guitar, aside from the shape and color, is the addition of a slider bar, or touch sensor, which is used in a variety of ways. This touch sensor represents each of the fret buttons, but is merely a flat touch surface with no physical buttons. Essentially, the touch sensor is used in special sections of the songs to play notes without having to strum. You can use the touch sensor and not strum when there is a purple line connecting the notes or when the notes are transparent. This is a neat feature, but I find it very difficult to switch from the frets to the touch sensor while in a song, so I just stick to the frets and strumming, but it’s good that there is an option. Also, you can opt to tap the touch sensor instead of strumming, which I found to be interesting. By this, I mean that you can use the frets and tap the touch sensor instead of strumming, which can be done at any time.
The next instrument of note is the drum set. The main drum board houses 3 pads and the various Xbox buttons, and also connects to 2 raised cymbals, for a total of 5 pads, as well as a drum pedal. The drums play very similar to those in Rock Band, except you have an extra pad to work with. The cymbals don’t seem to play very differently from a standard set, but it definitely looks cooler and is still a lot of fun to play. The placement of the pads and cymbals is done well, although I find it somewhat difficult to hit the middle blue pad because I get confused. Also, I sometimes get my drum stick stuck under a cymbal, which causes me to miss a note or two and is frustrating, but it’s something I have to work on and not really anything wrong with the set itself. I found it quite sturdy and didn’t have any problems with it wobbling or anything of the sort. I also want to note that you activate star power by hitting both cymbals at once, which is quite difficult during hard songs, where notes just keep coming, not giving you time to perform this combo.
The last instrument is the microphone, which is pretty standard. It’s a well-built, real microphone, but nothing special. The vocal gameplay is also fairly standard, where you have a line, called the comet, flowing on the screen and when lyrics come up, you want to keep the comet on the line, or tunnel by matching the pitch. There are also special sections where you can pump up the crowd to earn star power and freeform sections where you can sing whatever you like to earn more points. Both the guitar and drums are wireless, powered by 2 AA batteries, while the microphone is wired via a USB port.
Because Guitar Hero: World Tour introduces both new instruments and new features into the series, it will be important to run through the tutorials. The tutorials are split up by instrument and game features, so you can easily navigate to a section you need to learn, such as new guitar features, or band features, etc. Each section is narrated by a different person who puts their own flavor into it, so it makes the tutorials somewhat entertaining. They go step-by-step and you can choose to skip a lesson, which is very useful, as you probably already know what star power is and how to use it.
After you’ve figured out how to play, you’ll want to jump into it, except, you need your own character to rock out with. The customization in World Tour is pretty in-depth, but easy to use. The first thing to customize is your character. There are lots of options to choose from, starting with your facial features, like eyes, nose, eyebrows, mouth, and more. Then you can move to your hairstyle, body type, tattoos, accessories, and clothes. With most options, you can also change the colors from a large color spectrum, which can make things very interesting, such as making your character have bright blue skin. Then you can add some poses and attitudes on your character, so they will rock out how you want them to and have specific mannerisms, which is cool. Luckily, unlike the first Rock Band, this character can be used for all the instruments, as opposed to just one.
On that note, it will be time to customize all 4 of your instruments. With all the instruments, there are a ton of things to customize. For instance, with the guitar, you choose the base, the board, the strings, the styles, the colors, the buttons, EVERYTHING. Interesting enough, as you progress through the game, you unlock new parts, as opposed to new guitars themselves, so if you want a new guitar, you have to make it yourself instead of just choosing a new one, which is kind of weird and makes things a bit more difficult for people who just want to choose a new guitar. There are a ton of pieces to unlock and purchase, from standard looking ones to crazy ones, so you can still make some far-out instruments to give your character some uniqueness.
Now, finally, once you’ve created your perfect character, you are ready to rock out. You can do so in either the single player mode or band mode, but both are practically the same. You go from venue to venue and play a few songs at a time, unlocking more as you go. The menu is set up via fliers of that venue that display the songs that you will be performing. Fortunately, you can change difficulties at any time and continue onwards with your career. So, if you get stuck on a song on Hard, you can change the difficulty to Medium and try that song, without having to worry about starting all over or anything of the sort. Once you complete a song set, you’ll get paid according to how well you did, with certain bonuses for a variety of things, such as your star ranting or never falling into the red, etc. You can also play a head-to-head mode to see who gets the most points.
The online mode is the same as the local modes, where you can either join together with some other members online and form a band to play some venues, or go head-to-head. When I played, I didn’t experience any lag, and the play was like someone was in the room with me playing locally. However, it was semi-difficult to find people to play with, but I’m sure that was just due to the time I was playing, and hopefully more people will be playing now.
Once you’ve played the game for awhile, you might start to get a little bored with the 80+ song library and decide you want to make some of your own, and luckily, with the Music Studio, you can do just that. You can start out in the Music Studio and just jam away and record what you play. Afterward, you can edit your song in GH Mix, where you can make all kinds of alterations to make the song exactly how you like it. There are a ton of tools at your disposal to use, and it is pretty complicated, but luckily, there is a lengthy tutorial you can go over to help you understand how everything works and how to make a perfect song.
Also included is GH Tunes, where you can download user-created songs, or you can upload your own. Here, you can download any number of songs for free and continually get new content. Unfortunately, Activision has taken down any and all awesome copyrighted material, which is a shame, but understandable, so if you want some nostalgic Mario-themed music, you’ll have to create it yourself.
Overall, Guitar Hero: World Tour brings the Guitar Hero experience to the masses via not only the guitar and bass, but also the drums and vocals. World Tour expands on what the series has already created and World Tour just builds on what you’ve already come to know and enjoy. The customization and song library are great, and with the ability to download user-created content and with Activision putting out new songs very frequently, you can always find something new to play.
Overall Score: 8.8/10