Guitar Hero: World Tour

by Bronson

December 21, 2008

Guitar Hero: World Tour is Activision's first attempt at producing a full-band game, adding both drums and vocals to the traditional guitar/bass franchise. World Tour features the largest setlist of any Guitar Hero or Rock Band game, topping out at 86 songs. While the game initially looks far more polished than its predecessors, its shortcomings soon shine through.

Appearance: World Tour features several new features that enhance the looks of the game. The in-game menus look great. The band members look amazing compared to either of Activision's previous Guitar Hero titles (GH3 and Aerosmith). Now that the game now includes all instruments, all the band members' animation seem much more realistic, rather than the robotic animations that the previous titles featured. The appearances by some of rock's biggest names also adds to the look of the game. It's pretty cool to play "The Wind Cries Mary" as Jimi Hendrix, or see Ozzy Osbourne on the mic while you're playing "Mr. Crowley". However, the important parts of the game took a step back aesthetically. The fretboard, rock meter, and multiplier bar look clunky and sloppy, particularly when more than one part is being played. This is most evident on the drums. It seems as though Activision spent too much time on things in the background instead of the parts of the screen that the player is actually paying attention to.

Setlist: While this set is large, it is lacking in several areas. Some of the biggest names in rock music are featured, several more than once. Tool has three songs, Jimi Hendrix and Ozzy Osbourne are featured twice apiece, and both Zakk Wylde and Ted Nugent composed original tracks solely for World Tour, in addition to a song from their respective bands. Other big names found in World Tour are the Eagles, the Foo Fighters, Sublime, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and Metallica. The set features a wide array of musical choices. A player can go from "Beat It" to "La Bamba" to "Crazy Train" and anywhere in between. However, when comparing this set to previous games in this genre, it ranks at the bottom. Aside from the songs by the previously mentioned artists, many of the songs are obscure, many of them aren't very good, and most of the songs (including the popular ones) just aren't very fun. As someone who has spent alot of time playing all of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, this is without a doubt, the worst setlist that either franchise has produced.

Gameplay: Several new gameplay features are included in World Tour. Obviously the first one that comes to mind is the expansion to full band, but it doesn't stop there. The drums have pressure-sensitive notes, earning you more points if you hit the pad with the appropriate strength. Bass tracks now feature "open notes", represented by a purple bar across the fretboard(similar to the bass notes on the drum tracks). A "Beginner" difficulty has also been added, basically playing open notes to the beat of the song. The career has also been changed. No longer do you play one song at a time until the particular difficulty tier is finished, then play the encore and move onto the next tier. The career takes a step toward Rock Band's "Band World Tour" mode by letting the player choose a setlist comprised of 3-6 songs, played one after another with no break, with an encore to follow. All in all, the gameplay tweaks are decent additions, but nothing to be really excited about.

Miscellaneous Commentary: Activision officially ruined this franchise. Instead of keeping the Guitar Hero identity separate from Rock Band's, Activision tried too hard to turn Guitar Hero into Rock Band. It's really disappointing. When Activision took over the GH brand, they had a cash-cow that they could milk for a long time. Not only are they screwing themselves by releasing too many games too quickly (GH: Metallica will make it four games in under 18 months), but expanding to full band means the franchise has lost its identity. Why pay all this money for GH with full band when I already have Rock Band? Even innovations like the Song Creator are useless. The song creator is like a map editor in other games: it might be fun to toy around in, but if you're thinking about making something really good, it will take hours upon hours to do. The only way I see that Activision can compete is to out-do Rock Band through downloadable content, which will be next to impossible.

Overall, the fancy gameplay additions and all the cameos are great, but the foundation of these games is the song choice. That is the area where this game is seriously lacking. All the bells and whistles are nice if the game is still fun to play, and I can honestly say I had less fun playing through this game than I did playing through any of the other Guitar Hero or Rock Band games. Okay, maybe Aerosmith was worse, but it's certainly close.