Giant Bomb Review

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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Review

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  • X360

The underlying formula and a handful of good songs still provide some bright moments, but Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock feels all too obligatory to be very exciting.


 THAT'S what Guitar Hero was missing. Night elves!
It's a trend that's been developing for a few years now, but with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, it's hard to ignore the full-blown wheel-spinning and the decaying effects that annualized sequels have had on Activision's once-glorious rhythm franchise. The slow death of Guitar Hero is something that bums me out personally. I have a lot of fond memories with this series, and it speaks volumes that, despite bringing little to the table besides a half-baked story mode and a fresh set of metal-heavy songs, there were still flickers of the old Guitar Hero magic--that spontaneous realization of your secret rock star--while playing Warriors of Rock. But without any significant new features over last year's Guitar Hero 5, the returns are diminishing at an alarming rate, and the only meaningful metric remaining is how much you like the soundtrack.

This is, for the most part, Guitar Hero As Usual. You'll find basic feature parity with Guitar Hero 5. You've got quickplay, party play, competitive modes, some online options, and a training section, plus a character creator and the still-shoddy GHTunes music maker suite. But Warriors of Rock ditches the usual rags-to-riches rock fantasy career mode with a quest mode that's similar in structure, but that fully embraces the corny, kid-safe cartoonishness that has been creeping into Guitar Hero for the past few years. I'm reminded of the junior-high heavy-metal fantasy of Brutal Legend, but in an entirely perfunctory way. 

Acting as the agents of the imprisoned Demigod of Rock, each level has you playing as one of the familiar faces from prior Guitar Hero games--characters like Johnny Napalm, Judy Nails, and Axel Steel--as well as a few new ones. While in the quest mode, each character also has some kind of unique gameplay modifier that usually effects score multipliers or your star power meter, an effect that's amplified once you complete that character's setlist and they transform into some kind of zombie or cyborg or demon beast or whatever.  It's supposed to be all tough and metal, but it's just silly. The best comparison I can conjure is the old Harlem Globetrotters cartoon, where the clown princes of basketball were turned into half-assed superheroes with flimsy gimmicks derived loosely from their personas. When it takes a left-turn into the realm of prog-rock with Rush's 2112 halfway through, it seems like a non-sequitur, and by the time it got to the Megadeth-driven grand finale, I had long since stopped caring.

 I ask you, who is this for?     
So I wasn't particularly receptive to the comic-book charms of the quest mode, but I found it incredibly helpful in making sense of the game's soundtrack, which, if just presented as a big alphabetical list of 93 songs, looks like random madness. In the quest mode, though, each character's setlist generally matches their basic theme, so when you're playing as punk-rock stereotype Johnny Napalm, you get songs by The Buzzcocks, Twisted Sister, The Runaways, The Offspring, Sum 41, Bad Brains, Soundgarden, and The Ramones. It's not always perfect, but it's a smart way to present the music in a game like this, though I definitely hit a brick wall a little bit past the halfway point in the quest mode, when all of the characters I could select seemed to trade mostly in the kind of dirge-y heavy metal sludge that I have very little personal interest in.

More than anything, your interest in the songs featured in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock will dictate its value to you. For me, personally, there are a good dozen or so songs in here that I both enjoy listening to and had a blast playing, including “Uprising” by Muse, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “Been Caught Stealing” by Jane's Addition, and “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits. But I probably would've been happier, and would've spent significantly less money, had I been able to pick up these songs as downloadable content. Then again, if you've already invested in previous Guitar Hero games--including Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, Guitar Hero 5, and Band Hero--it's relatively cheap and easy to import the songs from those games into Warriors of Rock, giving you hundreds of songs to choose from.

That Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is most compelling as a track pack suggests that this is a series that has already peaked, and it's hard not to draw comparisons to the last franchise that developer Neversoft had to grind out year after year. Warriors of Rock offers a minor facelift but ignores the sagging infrastructure, and it's not a direction that holds much of a future for Guitar Hero.  
65 Comments
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Edited by Truitt

NOOOOOO
 
Wait, like anyone really expected anything more out of the GH franchise? 

Edited by Raymayne

I hope this is the last we see of the franchise....but who am I kidding =/ 
 
Also, 3rd paragraph should be *affects, and it's Jane's *Addiction not Addition in the last but one paragraph. Normally I wouldn't say anything about little mistakes but yeah...great review though!

Edited by Sil3n7

I'm not going to go out and say this game is "good" because I haven't played it, but it seems Giant bomb is predisposed to dislike rhythm games just because they wear tired of playing them...
 
Just a word of advice. Be clear to give every game a fair shake.

Posted by scarace360

Well its what i expected.

Posted by C2C

Shame this series is going the way DDR went.  Novel at first, currently a tired gimmick.

Posted by Workinonit24

MEH

Posted by Solh0und

Oh, have the mighty have fallen......well ok, that happened when Rock Band was released.

Posted by KaosAngel

...so it's not good.

Posted by TheMustacheHero

Who the fuck cares about Guitar Hero or any other music game anymore?

Posted by MooseyMcMan

I would not lump Soundgarden in with those other songs. It should be along bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains (though I have no clue if any of those other bands are in the game).

Edited by skrutop

I've been playing a lot of Guitar Hero World Tour lately (I love me them achievements), and felt like it was way behind Rock Band 2 in terms of design.  I'd hoped that, with subsequent releases, Activision might take a page from Rock Band's book and try to come up with something more mature.  Instead, Neversoft took the "gamey" route to differentiate the series by using comic book style storytelling, powerups, and giving the players more ways to earn points.  Me, I'm not interested in that approach. 
 
I can't wait to see the review Rock Band 3 is going to get.

Posted by erinfizz
@Truitt said:
" NOOOOOO Wait, like anyone really expected anything more out of the GH franchise?  "
No. But someone has to play these games so we don't have to. 
 
Uh, thanks Ryan! Both for the review and jogging my memory on that cartoon. :)
Posted by Vorbis

Thankyou Ryan for playing this so we don't have too.

Posted by anarchcorp

I'll probably pick it up once it goes down in prize. 
 
When it's priced like..you know...a track pack.

Posted by MisterMouse

Not necessarily surprised by this, they didn't seem to be improving on a lot...

Posted by Metric_Outlaw

I honestly had no clue this game was coming out so soon.

Posted by Romination

Jane's Addition is my favourite band. I hear they invented mathcore

Posted by RecSpec

You can be the Lich King. That is all.

Posted by Shaunage

At this point you already know whether you like Guitar Hero or not. If you do, the idea of a new Dragonforce song and three super hard Megadeth tracks amongst others is a godsend. I can't understand a 2 star review for this game.

Posted by PenguinDoctor

I hate to be that guy, but I can't help but see this review as extremly biased.  Honestly, compare this and Green Day: Rock Band, which got a 4 out of 5 in June.  Sure, that game had harmonies, and some people just like the Rock Band engine more, but is that really enough to have a two point difference?  I don't think so, I think that game got points because they know some guys that work for Harmonix and because they were living their youth through Green Day.  Maybe Giantbomb should just leave these games alone?
Posted by animateria

I don't even know why they bothered to review this game. Maybe people are still interested in the Guitar Hero franchise enough to justify wasting time on a review?
 
In every iteration of GH after 1 and 2 it's been adding and removing useless new modes to have an excuse to send it out every holiday while trying absolutely nothing new.
 
I know it's easy to criticize Activision for this (since a lot of publishers do this) but God damn, they sure do a damn good job of killing a respectable franchise to the fucking ground.

Posted by Mikemcn
@PenguinDoctor said:
" I hate to be that guy, but I can't help but see this review as extremly biased.  Honestly, compare this and Green Day: Rock Band, which got a 4 out of 5 in June.  Sure, that game had harmonies, and some people just like the Rock Band engine more, but is that really enough to have a two point difference?  I don't think so, I think that game got points because they know some guys that work for Harmonix and because they were living their youth through Green Day.  Maybe Giantbomb should just leave these games alone? "
That was awhile ago and wasn't a full iteration of a rhythm game. It was very open about not being innovative, it was a track pack for RB2 basically.
Posted by Sil3n7
@Wilkins_III said:

" @Sil3n7 said:

"I'm not going to go out and say this game is "good" because I haven't played it, but it seems Giant bomb is predisposed to dislike rhythm games just because they wear tired of playing them... Just a word of advice. Be clear to give every game a fair shake."

Not sure if this is a completely fair comment. Firstly, the Rock Band series (with the exception of Lego Rock Band) has always been rated highly by Giant Bomb, so they've not taken a dislike to rhythm games. And secondly, if a series adds barely anything meaningfully new after each installment, I'd get bored too, no matter what the game. "
 I see what you are saying and thought about that before I posted but you have to admit there is some sort of lingering pessimism about the genre I hear from the bombcast these days.. 
Posted by Sil3n7
@PenguinDoctor:  As I mentioned in my earlier post here I agree.
Posted by PenguinDoctor
@Mikemcn said:
" @PenguinDoctor said:
" I hate to be that guy, but I can't help but see this review as extremly biased.  Honestly, compare this and Green Day: Rock Band, which got a 4 out of 5 in June.  Sure, that game had harmonies, and some people just like the Rock Band engine more, but is that really enough to have a two point difference?  I don't think so, I think that game got points because they know some guys that work for Harmonix and because they were living their youth through Green Day.  Maybe Giantbomb should just leave these games alone? "
That was awhile ago and wasn't a full iteration of a rhythm game. It was very open about not being innovative, it was a track pack for RB2 basically. "

Well, that's fine if you want to claim that it wasn't a generational jump, but then, using logic, shouldn't Rock Band 3 be stuck at a max score of 3 or 4?  I mean, harmonies were first in The Beatles, PowerGig had the pro guitar first, the Overshell is basically just a rip off of everything Guitar Hero 5 did, and yet, they proclaim it to be "One of the last 4 relevant music games."  The main problem seems to be that Ryan just didn't like the teenage metal vibe the game had, which is, when you look at the whole product, a very small part of the game.  You don't have time to look at the environment much when your playing a music game, and Guitar Hero didn't go around breaking the important things this year.  Let's be honest, if this had been the same game with a Harmonix logo on it, it would have at least been a 3.
Posted by mcmets93

The Guitar Hero franchise should just give up and if there not going to give up start putting on the same type of music they did for the first 2 guitar heroes(the best ones)

Posted by jakob187

I really don't know what to make of this review.  I know that I don't agree with it in the LEAST bit.

Posted by GirnBlanston

I need to trade in my World Tour guitar controller. I haven't played GH in over a year.
Posted by beatlebrainiac

I gave the game 3 and a half stars, but I can understand why someone would give it 2. I can also understand why someone would give it a 5. It's one of those types of games.

Posted by FreakAche

Ouch. Poor Neversoft. I'm guessing that this will be a fun comment section to watch over the next few days.

Posted by TheYear20XX
@PenguinDoctor said:
Well, that's fine if you want to claim that it wasn't a generational jump, but then, using logic, shouldn't Rock Band 3 be stuck at a max score of 3 or 4?  I mean, harmonies were first in The Beatles, PowerGig had the pro guitar first, the Overshell is basically just a rip off of everything Guitar Hero 5 did, and yet, they proclaim it to be "One of the last 4 relevant music games."  The main problem seems to be that Ryan just didn't like the teenage metal vibe the game had, which is, when you look at the whole product, a very small part of the game.  You don't have time to look at the environment much when your playing a music game, and Guitar Hero didn't go around breaking the important things this year.  Let's be honest, if this had been the same game with a Harmonix logo on it, it would have at least been a 3. "
Power Gig may have announced their "real guitar" first but that doesn't mean Harmonix wasn't working on theirs until after such an announcement. You're also forgetting about keys, which is an entirely new instrument for the genre, along with the extensive tutorials that go far more in-depth with teaching you the actual instruments compared to what Power Gig is offering. Sure, appreciation of the tracklist probably goes a long way towards one's enjoyment of the game, which is most likely why Ryan gave Green Day a 4. But it can't be denied that Warriors of Rock brings nothing new to the table, which is why it earned the score it did.
Posted by Kajaah117

The first review of Warriors of Rock I can agree with. An uninspired track pack with useless tacked on features. That's all it is. Does Activision really think that the thing I want from a music game is a Quest Mode narrated by Gene Simmons? Give me a break.  
 
Guitar Hero is the series that inspired me to become a musician, but it's time to call it. It's done. Rock Band 3 is bringing true innovations and learning tools to the genre, and it already has an exhaustive catalog of music to back it up. There's no reason for Guitar Hero to exist anymore. Focus on getting DJ Hero some legs, Activision.

Posted by Aussiepowa

If you dont enjoy the genre of music then out of the gate it had no chance.  Shoulda called out to  
 
  Alex Navarro for  his 5 cents worth
Posted by msavo

So who honestly likes this game more than Rock Band 3... 

Posted by Kajaah117
@Aussiepowa said:
"
If you dont enjoy the genre of music then out of the gate it had no chance.  Shoulda called out to  
 
  Alex Navarro for  his 5 cents worth "
I understand where you're coming from, but maybe asking an ex-Harmonix employee what he thinks about a Guitar Hero game isn't the best idea. =P
Posted by Kajaah117

Has anybody heard the 2112 recording they used in the game? It's some weird, rough, from-the-vault version instead of the well-produced epic we Rush fans know and love. The beginning riffs don't have that trademark echo, there's reverb missing on Lifeson's guitar solos, his tone is lot drier, and it just sounds so different as a result. 

Posted by Aussiepowa
@Kajaah117 said:
" @Aussiepowa said:
"
If you dont enjoy the genre of music then out of the gate it had no chance.  Shoulda called out to  
 
  Alex Navarro for  his 5 cents worth "
I understand where you're coming from, but maybe asking an ex-Harmonix employee what he thinks about a Guitar Hero game isn't the best idea. =P "

just his take on the genre being represented but point taken :P
Posted by Jared

Ugh, sounds like Activision is just trying to turn Guitar Hero into Madden now with yearly titles with little updates. Here's hoping that Rock Band 3 brings something new to the table...wait a second there's a keyboard!

Posted by sneaky77

I still enjoy these games, both series to be honest, because I enjoy the music and is a good way to listen to sme good tracks while at the same time enjoying playing a game. 
 
I hope the review for Rockband 3 is on par with this review though... cause if that gamegets a  4 or 5 then I will not quite understand that.

Posted by PLWolf

I've been enjoying the game. The Challenges for each and every song, including the imports is a great touch. I really enjoy the song specific animations that happen in each song, Bohemian's Rhapsody is the pinnacle of this.

Posted by Undeadpool

It's nearly nine o' clock! GO HOME! ;) 
This is...sadly not unexpected. I'm kinda hoping both this and Rock Band go away (after Rock Band 3 comes out) for awhile and let us just sit with our DLC.

Edited by habster3

Guitar Hero R.I.P.

Posted by MaddProdigy
@PenguinDoctor:  or maybe that game was, ya know, pretty well put together and this game is, ya know, the exact same horrible game that's been released 3 times in the past year or 2
Posted by HairyMike87

This was a great review. I can tell that this is the starting point for the series going downhill, if not already heading down fast, and probably will be the last one I purchase unless some miracle happens and it's rebooted into something crazy. I still enjoy the game tremendously because of the music and the challenges. I hated 5 because it was easy and most of the songs weren't my taste, but this game brought me back in with it's hard songs and awesome one's on guitar.

Posted by bybeach

I never understood these games, and I know I am suppossed to be missing something. And continue to.  
 
I always wanted to play guitar. It didn't seem to work for me, least when I tried when I was young.. But I cannot accept anything less. Just where it is.

Posted by Nadafinga

It's kinda what I expected to hear, but a very well written review nonetheless.

Posted by zityz

I didn't even know the game came out...meh.

Posted by Gnubberen

@Ryan 
Awesome review. Did you only get the game? Or did you also get the instruments? And if you did, how are they?

Posted by jonnyboy

Giant Bomb doesn't like Guitar Hero, who knew?

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