Breathing life into a tired franchise.
I can't quite put my finger on it. By all rights, Guitar Hero 5 can't really be all that different from World Tour, can it? Yet, the small tweaks and improvements have gone a long way to making this entry in the series seem fresh. The greatest addition has to be Party Play mode, which makes it incredibly easy to just start playing the game. No menu navigation or arguing over song selection. Simply grab an instrument and play. Another great addition are the song-specific challenges. These go a long way in adding replayability to the game for those who crave absolute completion. Some though get old really fast (I'm talking about you, whammy challenges).
Of course, the real meat and potatoes of any music game is the setlist. While at a glance, GH5's list doesn't elicit the same reaction GH3's does, many of these lesser-known songs are just down right fun to play. I found myself having a lot of fun even with songs that I'd never listen to on the radio. It truly puts the World Tour (and even GH2) setlist to shame.
The new multiplayer modes, while a good idea in theory, all basically come down to playing as well as you can. New rules apply to when people are knocked out, or what scores more points, but it's really just a note streak contest. While maybe not as big of an addition as Battle Mode was in Guitar Hero 3, they do at least add some variety to the multiplayer setting. Pro Face Off still seems to be the way to go though.
All in all, I can't recommed Guitar Hero 5 enough for those who enjoyed past installments. It's the perfect game to introduce someone to the series with, but I also think that it will reignite the flame for those who have lost it. For the first time, it seems like Harmonix are the ones who have some catching up to do.