Howdy folks. For those reading this, it means that I've been able to peel myself away from Civilization V, Halo: Reach, Starcraft II, and my recent fiddlings with Guitar Hero: WoR and DJ Hero to actually type. Needless to say, I've never had a single moment in my life where my fingers felt like they were going to fall off nearly as much as right now. Blame Megadeth's "Holy Wars" and "This Day We Fight!" for that. That's really all I've got for this part this week. Therefore, ON WITH THE GAMES!!!
Guitar Hero As It Was Meant To BeMany are probably looking at Warriors of Rock and saying "who cares about Guitar Hero?". Ladies and gentlemen, I care about Guitar Hero. As someone who frequently posted on the RedOctane forums during the GH 2 and 3 days, it's frustrating to see some reviews that are bashing that game into the ground. Then again, it's a tough sale when the world has become used to the ways of its competitor, Rock Band. However, there's a strong difference between Rock Band and Guitar Hero: GH is a GAME, while Rock Band is a STOREFRONT. Unfortunately, Activision didn't realize this when they were making some of the previous entries, and in turn, it soured the Guitar Hero name by trying to be its competitor. We don't come to Guitar Hero to lay down money for shitloads of DLC. We come to Guitar Hero for the schlocky fun that it offers, the vastly superior HOPO system, and the over-the-top feel and reverence it has for rock 'n' roll. This is what makes Warriors of Rock the true successor to Guitar Hero II and III in every way possible, and let it be known: Warriors of Rock IS THE BEST in the franchise so far.
Then again, maybe I'm looking at it through a set of proverbial beer goggles. Maybe this game does look dull and boring in comparison to Rock Band to the average consumer. Maybe the lack of personality that can be found in Rock Band or the fact that the game relies on microtransactions in a world where people bitch about things that rely on microtransactions appeal to many others. I'm not saying Rock Band is a bad game by any means, but it's interesting how it does everything that people don't like in the industry at the moment...yet it's held on this high pedestal. Meanwhile, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock features a ton of personality by using its cavalcade of unique characters to their full advantage. This is thanks to an over-the-top and ridiculous story in the Quest mode that makes you jump up and scream "HELL YEAH, ROCK 'N' ROLL BABY!". There's also the Quickplay+ setup, which offers challenges for every single song in much the same way that Guitar Hero 5 TRIED to implement. The real winning factor of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is that the game focuses on the competitive side far more this time, which was what made Guitar Hero II and III so worthwhile to so many. This time around, thanks to Facebook and Twitter connectivity as well as revamped leaderboard support and the ability to target your friends' scores directly to beat them, that competitive edge is finally where it needs to be.
Sure, it features a lot of the same things we saw in previous Guitar Hero games. The deciding factor is that everything is streamlined, fully featured, and well-implemented. Throw into that all of the minor improvements - singing characters have full lip-syncing on their character models, guitarists and bassists will come up to a mic and sing back-up vocals, the tracklisting that feels like it was plucked directly from the thousands of "wishlists" that would get posted to the Guitar Hero forums on a regular basis...so many things have been brought up to a new level for the franchise. I mean, I can't even fathom how many times I've seen songs like Megadeth's "Holy Wars" or John 5's "Black Widow of La Porte" come up in peoples' wishlists, but on top of that, they went so far as to add Tesla's "Modern Day Cowboy", Styx's "Renegade", The Offspring's "Self Esteem"... Fuck, they've even got THE BUZZCOCKS on this damn game! Yeah, maybe it's all available as DLC on the competitor's game. However, when you see the performances being given, when you see the note charts, you realize that these songs belong to Guitar Hero. This is their home. The moment you play Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and watch how the performance in the background is mimicking both the music video as well as Wayne's World and other general references to the song throughout the years, it's tough to not fall in love with the game. Some would lead you to believe that the game is made up of nothing but sludgy metal for huge chunks, when in fact the game is comprised of about 25% metal total. The rest goes across many different genres of rock (at least eight core genres), picking out the BEST songs from those genres to represent them. I'm not a fan of indie, but I'll be fucking damned if I didn't enjoy playing some indie on this game.
I could go on and on about the game - how Rush's 20-minute epic "2112" in seven full parts makes a great middle-point for the game's Quest mode, how the game offers the challenge that has been missing from the GH games for so long, so many things. In the end, it makes me realize one thing: this is a game that was made to be a GAME, not a tool to teach people how to play a real guitar or anything like its competitor. Moreover, it's a game that brings us back to the glory days of Guitar Hero. It's a shame to see people trying to almost compare it apples to apples with something that is a completely different entity in what it wants to accomplish. Warriors of Rock is not just a mere "tracklist" - it's the game fans of the franchise have wanted for a long time.
Until next time...piece. In the meantime, WE ARE THE PRIESTS...OF THE TEMPLES...OF SYRIIIINX!!!