The Guitar Hero franchise is no small deal in the gaming industry. Millions of copies sold to millions across the world as well as huge sales of the peripheral instruments makes it quite the cash cow, though games such as these sometimes have the tendency to decline in quality as the developers and publishers see larger and larger dollar signs flashing before their eyes.
Look at the ridiculous Guitar Hero: Van Halen, a clear example of a game that should never have existed as a standalone title: it was unimaginative, restrictive, devoid of style and charisma, and generally a huge let down whose purpose was clearly to squeeze as much cash out of gullible fans as possible. This wasn’t the case with Guitar Hero: World Tour however. It was the first Guitar Hero game to actually push the boundaries a little, including new instruments, some iconic venues, and a new mode of progressing through the action, gig by gig, venue by venue. Most of all, the game is notable for its incredible track list, which is more diverse and extensive than any of the previous games, and this review takes a quick look at some of the best bits.
First I think it best to fill in those not in the know about Guitar Hero, which is likely to be almost no-one, but I don’t wish to alienate anyone here. The series is of course a rhythm-based music game that relies on players owning instrument-shaped peripherals much like in Rock Band, which are basically controllers that imitate their corresponding real-life instruments that allow you to imitate being an actual musician (though there really isn’t much crossover skill).
Notes sail down the screen with different colours, and the corresponding colour or colours must be pressed on the instrument when it hits the line at the bottom of the screen. Accurate and punctual performances score points and cheers, whereas mistimed and entirely wrong notes lose you points and can result in having to begin the song again. This time around we have drums and vocals joining the mix of instruments that you can play, and some iconic venues such as the House of Blues but just like any musical game, the most important aspect of it all is the track list.
And what an impressive track list we have in this game. The roster is extensive and eclectic all at once: Nirvana, Ozzy Osbourne, Blink 182, Sting, Modest Mouse, Korn, Van Halen, Eagles, Tool, Metallica, Jimmy Hendrix, and Zakk Wylde are all featured and are but a handful of the complete roster. Crazy Train, Freak on a Leash, Hotel California, Misery Business, and Purple Haze are just a pinch of the tracks you’ll experience. The top songs in the list from my perspective however are the Zakk Wylde Guitar Duel (insanely fun to play and it helps that he is ridiculously talented on guitar), Metallica’s Unforgiven III (even though Unforgiven II is the best of the three, it simply isn’t featured here), and Hundred Reasons’ I’ll Never Know. The downloadable content is actually more extensive than the on-disk songs as well, including more tracks for you to get stuck into.
My best picks from the DLC are Well Thought Out Twinkles by Silversun Pickups, Disconnected by In Flames (I enjoy any track that involves tuning down and thrashing the hell out of the guitar interspersed with melodic interludes), and a bit of Ruby Soho by Rancid, because there’s nothing wrong with a bit of old-school punk every now and then. If you’re not convinced about the selection of tracks, then the only way to find out is to actually buy and play Guitar Hero: World Tour and hear for yourself.