Accentuates everything good and bad about Guitar Hero
I'm a bit of a music-game fanatic. Ever since I picked up Guitar Hero on the PS2, I've faithfully followed the genre through every single release. In fact, I'd estimate that over half my time playing video games is spent with rhythm games. So when I heard they were going to make GH6 the "ultimate" version, I was pretty pumped. While I can definitely say it is the ultimate version of Guitar Hero, it's also brings the least to the table.
Before I talk about the actual game, I want to talk about my purchasing experience. I picked up the guitar set, and while I find the new guitar perhaps the best they've ever made, I had to take back the set twice to get one that had a disc my 360 could read. So keep that in mind if you're looking to pick it up.
As for the game itself, as soon as I put it in, the Guitar Hero-ness was in my face. Everything you know and love (or hate) about the series is still here. In alot of ways, this game feels much more like Guitar Hero 3 than World Tour or 5, and that's not exactly a bad thing. It does feel like they put more of a focus back into guitar songs, and the storyline has a cheesy, campy fun to it. I will say this about the storyline though: there's something inherently off about a Guitar Hero game featuring a storyline about bringing back true rock. Didn't you guys make Band Hero, the game with Taylor Swift in it? Anyways.
Unfortunately, the game also brings back some sticking points that they seemed to be shying away from in the newer Guitar Hero's. The characters are the ugliest they've ever been. The graphics are polished as hell, sure, but man, those designs are just awful. And they get even worse in "beast" form. I'm still not sure what Johnny Napalm's transformation is supposed to be, but it will haunt my nightmares for a long, long time.
Also, the in-game advertising. It's getting out of hand. I can accept a few Coca-cola bottles on the floor, but when I'm watching a storyline about behemoths and mountains and shit, A GIANT COCA-COLA BILLBOARD kinda sticks out. And even worse, when you're picking characters, you'll see ads at the bottom of the screen, ala the Dashboard. And I don't mean shit like, "here's the newest dlc!" As I type this, there is an advertisement for JC Penny's teen clothing. Way to bring back rock, Guitar Hero.
All that aside, the gameplay is still solid as ever. They've done nothing to change the gameplay, and I mean nothing. Sure, there's the new "perks" type system for getting a jillion stars, but as for the notes coming down the chart? It's the same as it ever was. That's not exactly a bad thing, but with Rock Band 3 introducing keyboards, you gotta wonder how long GH can stay fresh, or if it even is anymore.
In terms of modes, they've basically split the core story mode into two halves: Quickplay+ and Quest. Quickplay+ is pretty much Guitar Hero 5 with everything unlocked: you have challenges in each song to complete, and getting more stars nets you more loot. Quest mode, on the other hand, harkens back to Guitar Hero 3: Each character has a set of songs, you get a certain number of stars to unlock their "beast", then you play an encore song. That's all well and good, but it feels like there should be more. Because you unlock just about everything through Quickplay+, there's not really a sense of "Oh man, I have to complete this to get that unlockable". The only thing you really get out of completing the quest mode are the "beast" versions to play as in Quickplay, and encore songs to play in Quickplay. I really wish they'd go back to World Tour's version of making money and spending said money on extras, but that's just a personal view.
But now, the most important part of any rhythm game: the setlist. First of all, you can finally import Guitar Hero: Metallica into Warriors of Rock, and that's awesome. Seeing as how the game claims itself to be a reboot back to the days of guitar-as-the-main-instrument, it's nice to get some guitar-heavy tracks in there. Also cool is that the challenges I mention in Quickplay+ work with all your dlc. And finally, they've caught up to Rock Band 2 in terms of organizing and finding your music! Still not sure why it took them two years and about five iterations to do that.
Now, the songs themselves? Mostly solid, if lacking in consistency. Before the game's release, the developers constantly touted this as a game meant for guitar players, and as such, I've only played guitar. And for the most part, these are some solid guitar tracks. Still, there are some head-scratching selections. No one is denying that Bohemian Rhapsody is a classic, but guitar? Not so much. So you deal with the awkward idea of playing the piano part on guitar. Huh.
You also have to deal with songs that, while they may actually feature a guitar part, just aren't fun guitar-songs. Seven Nation Army? Great riff. Now play it over and over and over until the song ends. Nickelback? Besides the fact that it's NICKELBACK, the song is just boring. Graduate by Third Eye Blind? First of all it's Third Eye Blind, but that's the song you go with?
So I guess I've spent alot of this review harping on the game, but that's because there is some really great stuff there, it's just buried under the usual Guitar Hero-isms. I feel like this game caters to the hardcore, but even they don't get the full Guitar Hero experience they may have hoped for. All in all, it's a good game for most, and a great game for few, but it's not really perfect for anybody. And it will only be further scrutinized when Rock Band 3 comes out, provided Rock Band 3 keeps up the stellar track record Harmonix has.