Guitar Hero – World Tour
System: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Genre: Rhythm Music
Single player duration: 25 hours
Developer: Neversoft Entertainment
Release Date: 10/26/08
– The band’s drumming, vocals, and playing add a lot to the series.
– Online gang competitive and cooperative modes
– New guitar game challenges.
– User created songs are not funny
– Not as many interesting or upgradeable challenges as Rock Band
– Too similar to Rock Band
World Tour follows in the footsteps of Rock Band by adding drums, vocals, and a band career, but it also adds some new features. A powerful song creation engine lets you create your own songs and download songs from others, but the resulting songs are all low-quality productions that aren’t nearly as fun to play as the original popular songs. While the drum and vocal set doesn’t differ much from Rock Band, the guitar set includes some new features that will challenge veterans in new ways.
The main addition to the series is the inclusion of drum, vocal, and band game modes that are nearly identical to the experience created by the first Rock Band game. The only difference with the Rock Band drum and vocal game is that you can use your star power at any time during a song instead of waiting for the drum or vocal solo sections. Each instrument has solo sections, but they’re only used to give you bonus points instead of starting your star power. Activision made a new drum kit for World Tour that features raised cymbal pads above the other drum pads and a new guitar with fret buttons lower on the neck. Don’t worry if you already own older versions of these instruments. You do not need to purchase these new variations to play.
Each of the instruments, including the bass, has its own career mode. In each run, you will gradually go through the world and unlock new and more difficult songs. For each outfit you complete, you’ll receive performance money, which you can use to customize your character’s clothing, hair, tools, and a wide variety of other features. You can also use your earnings to gain access to some exclusive sets of songs. If unlocking all the songs in the game is your main interest, you can also choose to change the difficulty of the game to progress past the more difficult songs.
Apart from just playing songs, you will also face famous musicians during your career. Guitar Hero III handled these encounters with a battle mode where you had to make your opponent fail a song using power-ups that made the song harder for your opponent to play. World Tour simplifies these encounters by simply asking you to perform the song well enough to prevent the audience from completely favoring your opponent, which is much less challenging. After defeating famous rockers, such as Jimi Hendrix, Ozzie Osbourne and Billy Corgan, you will be able to perform in their likeness.
Band’s career mode is also almost identical to Rock Band gameplay, in which you take the stage with at least one other friend to play the same songs and earn money to further customize your characters. The main difference is that they cannot directly save each other from failed songs. The game handles member saving by allowing the gang to share star power among its members. The result is that your party will need to collaborate and use star power strategically. If a member is missing a lot of notes, then the band should let the other members earn star power and tell them to use it to make sure no one gets booed offstage.
World Tour is clearly trying to broaden its audience by lowering the overall difficulty setting 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 at a slower velocity. As a result, Rock Band and World Tour difficulties are virtually identical. The new Beginner difficulty is meant to allow people completely new to rhythm games to play by simply hitting any note at the correct time without having to switch fingers between notes.
While drums and vocals are featured for the first time in the series, the guitar playing has also changed to add new note patterns. There are some new sections with multiple notes that you have to hold that start at different 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 gameplay easier and detracts from the feeling that you’re playing a famous song. It seems the only reason they included these simpler notes is to give people a reason to buy their new guitar. The latest guitar features knobs placed close together at the bottom of the guitar’s neck, which are easier to slide on these simpler sections. Don’t worry if you want to play an old guitar, you shouldn’t have any problem using the standard fret buttons.
The last major change to the series is the ability to create your own songs and download other players’ songs. Initially, this sounds like a cool new feature, but it doesn’t amount to a very big 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 create a song that a full band can play together. Once you’ve finished creating the notes for the song, you can further modify the sound with various effects, such as giving the guitar track a metallic or vibrant effect, the song’s tempo, and a wide variety of other features. You can then 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 given to them by other players. While the creation process is solid, the actual songs have poor sound quality. The top-rated songs usually have a great sense of rhythm, but they’re not as engrossing as playing the familiar songs you hear on the radio.
World Tour includes quite a few online multiplayer game modes. You can go up against another guitarist, drummer, or vocalist to see who is better at playing an entire song or alternating sections of the same song. Guitarists can also play battle mode, where they compete to play a song more accurately while using power-ups to increase their opponent’s difficulty. While playing Battle Mode, you gain a wide variety of powers that reverse note patterns, remove the vibrating bar effect, or make certain notes unplayable. You can also play songs cooperatively on the guitar with a friend.
If you can’t gather enough gangmates locally, you can fill in the missing members with the 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 online band game is that it’s very hard to find someone to sing songs, but that’s not the game’s fault. Even if a singer joins your band, many players give up because they can’t sing the song chosen by other members. I guess this is because it’s much harder to sing songs than it is to play them on an instrument.
The gameplay options and modes are quite extensive, but it would have been nice if upgradable challenges could have made their way into the game. Rock Band 2 includes a variety of challenges related to playing groups of songs from the same band, genre, or decade on particular instruments or as a band. The developers constantly update the list of challenges to ensure that 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 on all the different leaderboards.
The game includes many songs that you can play in 4 different races, but there is also a huge online store that offers an expanding library of new songs to download and play. Taking a cue from the Rock Band store, you can sort songs by artist, decade, and album to easily find the style of music you like. You can also preview songs before you buy them, increasing the chances that you’ll try something from a band you haven’t heard before.
The game includes more than 90 songs, which are all master recordings. In addition to popular songs ranging from classic rock to the latest rock songs of this decade, the game also includes some pop and country hits, such as Beat It and On the Road Again, which further broadens the game’s appeal. Much of the game’s appeal depends on whether you like the songs included with the game, so be sure to check out the song list before purchasing the game.
World Tour pushes the series forward to match the Rock Band offering by including drums, vocals, and band playing, while also adding new guitar note patterns. The varied and expansive online game modes and growing library of loadable songs ensure that the game will keep you entertained for quite some time. The engine used to create new songs offers a wealth of options, but the resulting lower quality songs will probably only interest the most hard-core rhythm players who enjoy a good challenge. Many of the game’s changes simply coincide with the characteristics of Rock Band and fail to push the series or genre very far. Overall, World Tour is a good game that will keep players playing until the next game is released, but it also shows that the genre’s creativity may be reaching its peak.