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Moving from a single guitar experience to a full band setup was a change I was excited to experience. Guitar Hero World Tour tackled this change with aplomb having some fantastic instruments, a good set-list and some solid note-tracking and play mechanics. Despite a few minor problems I was constantly thrilled with the amount of fun I was having and nothing was better than playing this game with a group of friends. It may not be as accessible as last yearís Rock Band, but for die-hard Guitar Hero fans this game lives up to the challenge and fun laid down by the previous versions.
As a long-term Guitar Hero fan I must admit to being highly impressed by last yearís Rock Band. The move to a full instrument band setup made my Guitar Hero 3 experience a little, well empty by comparison. This year however I was delighted to see the full band setup be given the Guitar Hero treatment in the form of World Tour, although I was concerned about how Neversoft would handle the transition from a single guitar experience to drums, bass, vocals and lead guitar.
What struck me before I even took the game out of its box was how well-made the instruments were. In the past I've put up with being ribbed for having a large collection of plastic toys. But these instruments feel much closer to being replicas than before. The drum-set won't ever make me believe itís a proper electronic drum-kit, but it's getting pretty close for a videogame peripheral. The guitar feels like itís been given just enough improvements to make a difference - the separate button for star power in particular is a blessed relief to me. The touchpad is a little less useful but acted as quite a good change from simply strumming during a song. As hardened as my wrist have become to this mode of play, a quick change of styles is always welcome.
In the past I've put up with being ribbed for having a large collection of plastic toys. But these instruments feel much closer to being replicas than before.
For the hardcore guitarist in me I really liked a lot of the songs included in this year's package. If I had to choose then I'd definitely prefer lead guitar over any other instrument, so the inclusion of many solo guitar songs really hit my showoff bone. That's not to say World Tour doesn't have its fair share of accessible tracks for everyone. Rocking out to Michael Jackson with the whole family is a pretty unexpected but awesome experience.
This accessibility for more casual players is something I feel World Tour has tried to change from previous Guitar Hero incarnations. Compared to Rock Band, Guitar Hero 3 was a far harder game even when set to a normal difficulty level and this harsh learning curve has been alleviated to accommodate less talented players. But even with this balancing issue sorted out it wasnít as easy to play in a casual style as Rock Band.
When I was playing World Tour with my friends it only took one of them to fail and our song was over. There was no option to bring that person back meaning thereís far more emphasis on not screwing it up than before. Itís a matter of personal taste if this is a good or bad point. Having friends who are pretty good at the game meant it didnít matter so much and it also gave those harder tracks a more game-like edge than the easier versions on Rock Band. But getting my family involved showed me that World Tour still wasnít as friendly as it should be - no one should get a game over message when it comes to rhythm games.
For the hardcore guitarist in me I really liked a lot of the songs included in this year's package.
But one aspect I liked about Guitar Hero 3 was the guitar duels and these have been continued in the solo guitar career mode. Theyíve changed the manner of these battles though and I was a little disappointed to see the object throwing, lefty-flip and general madness it embraced in Guitar Hero 3 has been replaced with a simple tug of war mechanic. It makes for a more accessible experience for all players but the challenge for me as been lost a little.
The career modes themselves were enjoyable - to my surprise. I had expected the drums and vocals to get a little weary after a while but the variety in tracks and the newness of the additional careers was a thrill. Just a shame that I couldnít progress in these sections as an entire band - meaning to complete everything I had to go back and replay each career & band mode individually. An instance, Iím afraid, where Rock Band outshines Guitar Hero again. Being forced to play songs multiple times simply sucked the life out of the experience, especially when it felt so unnecessary. I got the feeling I was being punished for wanting to play all of the game when in Rock Band it just let me enjoy my progression naturally.
One instance where Guitar Hero gets the jump on Rock Band is the inclusion of some creation software. The ability to create and share songs with other users sounded awesome to me at first, but after a few minutes it dawned on me that this side of World Tour was well over my head. I had fun downloading a few user tracks but the feeling when playing them never reached the same level as those in the main game. Itís a nice feature but Iím hoping the community around Guitar Hero can make it a more appealing place than the way it currently looks.
The leap from Guitar Hero 3 to World Tour is one I anticipated eagerly and with a fair amount of trepidation. But Neversoft pulled off an excellent band experience with some of the best peripherals Iíve seen for a rhythm game. It has a few faults and niggles that kept me from really forgetting Rock Band existed, but when I think back to all those long sessions Iíve had with World Tour, I can only remember having a fantastic time. Something thatís essential for a rhythm game and it makes this Guitar Hero an awesome experience.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
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