The Guitar Hero franchise has taken a few steps back to collect its breath before stepping on stage once again. This, after the onslaught of musical rhythm games released by Activision last year – Guitar Hero 5, On Tour, Van Halen, Band Hero, Greatest Hits, and, if you count it, DJ Hero.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock marks the return of the series back to its former rock-star self. This is one for the old-school fans – those who want rock and roll songs over family-friendly hits. And I dare say it, but it’s for those who are going to stick to the guitar. Sure, the drums and vocals are ok, but these songs have been chosen for their wailing guitar riffs.
As with last year’s title, one of the major things you notice is that the drop-in and drop-out style of gameplay allows you to very easily keep playing the songs you want, changing around party members, and mixing up the gameplay modes without any large breaks. Even when choosing something like the quest mode, you’re presented with the band-creation screen where you have the ability to change the mode back to quickplay, competitive, or party play. Here you can also select the remaining members (human or AI controlled) of the band. A nice touch for those wanting to specify which characters will play alongside you.
The ultimate drop-in and -out experience is party mode, where mid-song players can join the band, leave, change difficulty, or if you wish to play lounge-politics, you can easily queue a playlist of your favourite tracks.
One of the major features touted in prior months has been the over-the-top story in the Quest mode. Narrated by Gene Simmons, the quest mode requires you to unlock the power of the warriors. Of rock. Warriors of Rock – you know, the title! Each character has a special power, usually attributed to gaining you more stars by playing better, which can only be unlocked by playing a series of songs. And I hate to say this, because the quest mode appeared that it could actually have a lot of potential, but it’s awfully repetitive.
Sure, you feel like you’re making progress when you unlock a newly powered-up warrior character (as well as their use in quickplay+; a mode where you can complete challenges with these new found powers to gain kudos) new venues and a few things for the create mode, but it is a long and arduous task. The rewards tracker does little to help – providing you details with the percentages of ‘stuff’ you’ve unlocked, and how you’ll need to keep progressing to get certain things. There was the chance to make the quest mode a bit more interesting than just playing through a list of songs, but that mark has been missed. Of course, this is fine if that’s all you want to do, but the various quickplay modes accomplish this already.
With that aside, the main selling point of the game has to be the tracklist. And as touched upon already, for the most part, it tries to be a fairly guitar-orientated rock and heavy metal affair. You’ve got bands like Megadeath, Slayer, Muse and Rush. There are a few tracks that seem slightly out of place, but given the fact that you can import hundreds of tracks from previous Guitar Hero titles, as well as perusing the online store to purchase even more, the on-disc tracklist becomes less-important.
It almost feels as if Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is just the next game in the series. It’s not that there’s anything spectacular about it. It follows the formula that has already been set out by the games preceding it. The play modes don’t introduce anything broadly new, and the quest mode hasn’t been executed to its full potential. However, it’s still a decent addition to the collection, and the singleplayer and band modes work seamlessly. It’s very easy to jump right in and rock.