Guitar Hero: World Tour Review
November 17, 2008 by Jereme Puik
Since the departure of Harmonix to create Rock Band, the Guitar Hero franchise was handed over to the creators of the Tony Hawk franchise, Neversoft and Red Octane. Although the Guitar Hero series has stuck to its guitars, it’s finally stepping up to full band treatment. Having a chance to watch how the original Rock Band played out, World Tour still has a lot to catch up on. It’s an admirable first effort, but it’s obviously just that. With a rebuilt guitar and a couple of instrument additions plus a song creator, there is quite a lot to keep you busy, though World Tour will certainly need a bounce back tour to keep pace with Rock Band.
It’s time to Rock
With an 86 song set list, you’ll shake your head and wonder why Activision didn’t allow for imported songs from prior games to increase that library. It looks as though they want to start completely from scratch in a new era for the series. If compared to that of Rock Band’s library, it doesn’t even come close and DLC will be most important if World Tour wants to even stand a chance at catching up to Rock Band. In general, there are way too many songs from the good old days and not enough Indie stuff. Although music is obviously subjective, so judge accordingly.
Taking your first step into Career mode, regardless of your chosen instrument, you begin by creating your very own rocker. The customization is certainly robust and the depth here is quite astonishing, no pre-sets here. You can get a pretty good representation of yourself and the addition of customizable instruments brings another plus to stage. After completing each song, you earn cash and new items added to the store to keep you coming back for more and to outfit your instruments. Instrument customization allows you to customize every piece of hardware your band uses and it’s quite impressive.
Career mode, unfortunately, falls a bit short and doesn’t offer much of a story as the past Guitar Hero games did. Most of the story, based on the instrument chosen, is shown through that of stylized character sequences that lack any real narrative. Songs are grouped into sets of gigs with each having their own significance to the arena you perform at. It’s a little hard when grouping with friends to play and you’re better off heading to quickplay to get the most out of your night. Having completed each gig, you’ll get a random encore and afterwards you unlock several more and give a bit more flexibility to how you want to complete your tour. Artist duels have returned although, unfortunately, they have been toned down to that of tug-o-war between you and the crowd as power-ups are removed. There’s not much to really get excited about in the Career mode and it lacks a bit of depth to make it worthwhile outside of just playing song after song.
The instruments themselves are fairly balanced though the guitar getting the highest quality. It’s heavier and bulkier than in the past and adds a little touch-pad to make those heavy solos and bit more interesting. The whammy bar is a little more flexible and leaves room for longer stretch notes. Also of note is the strum bar which is a lot quieter this time around and thankfully is a bit stiffer making it easier to hit each note.
The drums are an interesting mechanic. This is the first time we’ve dealt with cymbals and the drums in World Tour manage to make it a fairly realistic experience no matter what song you’re playing. Although some may want to watch as there have been reports of pad connectivity issues with missing notes and wires being loose on the inside. Got to hand it to Neversoft, however, as they really made a good start here with the drum set. Issues such as the bass pedal reaction time to the drum pads recognizing notes are just a few things that Neversoft could easily work to make drumming a more enjoyable experience in the next go around.
The vocals are a trip to play and hopefully your energized enough to really take them on. You can choose different designs for the lyrics to display on screen but other then that there’s not much to it. Just make sure you don’t get stage freight.
There are plenty of multiplayer modes online and off, and aside from quickplay you should be able to get the most out of your rocking night out. You can create your band locally with your friends and work your way through career mode or online in “Battle of the Bands”. Unfortunately, this is where the fun stops and where Rock Band exceeds. Battle of the Bands could have been easily expanded in giving players challenges or skill sets to compete with in each difficulty level making it harder as you complete each challenge. Small things like that could’ve easily made World Tour a treat to play on Live or local.
Finally, the Music Studio is one that’s been highlighted ever since it was showcased and has, from what I gathered, been a mixed reaction. The store is definitely difficult to grasp a hold of and if you don’t pay attention to the tutorial in the beginning you’ll be easily lost. Those that have the time and patience to create songs, I congratulate because at least you’re giving us something original to play and download.
As I mentioned earlier, Guitar Hero reverts back to its old self in terms of stylized characters and art that could make use in a good 2d cartoon. It’s not bad, but goes back a little too far and reminds me too much of Guitar Hero 2. Luckily, vocalists will be pleased to know that their virtual counterparts won’t lose a step in terms of emulating your movements through the lyrics of whatever song you’ll be playing at the moment. Otherwise, you won’t be spending too much time looking at those graphics while you’re playing. If you are, then…that’s on you. Overall, the presentation is just as you’d expect from a Guitar Hero game and there’s not much to think about here.
All music tracks in the game are master recordings and straight from the original artists. So go ahead and turn up the volume, and hopefully your neighbor’s won’t mind much. The creek that used to show up whenever you fail to hit a note seems to have been eliminated here and is replaced with just a little nudge of the note stream, which does get frustrating if you happen to hit that nudge quite a bit. Your instrument notes are all of high quality and give off that sense of accomplishment when successfully going on a streak and keeping up with the pace of the song.
There are a couple of things here that World Tour does get right and makes it a viable first effort into the complete band experience. The music studio sets itself up to be the premiere rhythm game in the business. If Neversoft is able to work out the kinks and get it down to a more simple level, so to speak, at least to the point of it being usable by a larger crowd, then it could be a great hit. The music studio is one thing that World Tour has on edge over Rock Band and could greatly use it to its advantage in the next go around.
The drum kit really takes a knock down on Rock Band’s pretty much because it launches with cymbals while we are still waiting for RBs. The cymbals really kick the game into gear and make it the most realistic experience one can imagine playing in a band despite the few flaws the instrument has.
Guitar Hero: World Tour is an admirable first effort and certainly has a lot of potential to catch up to Rock Band. In terms of library, it still has ways to go, but with 86 song track list, it’s a decent start. The full band kit is a nice start for Guitar Hero and certainly adds more replayability then just rocking it out on plain guitars. The vocals and drumming have their pros and cons but ultimately gives players something to work with. Guitar Hero World Tour is probably something most might want to wait for its inevitable sequel before jumping on board. Either way, World Tour could use some fine tuning and a more options in terms of library content and instrument refinement.