Giant Bomb Review

49 Comments

Guitar Hero World Tour Review

4
  • X360
  • PS3

Guitar Hero makes an interesting, if not always successful, transition to the full-band format.

An increasingly familiar sight.
Ever since Harmonix and RedOctane broke up the original Guitar Hero band, it's become nigh impossible to talk about either Guitar Hero or Rock Band without drawing comparisons betwixt, and Guitar Hero World Tour's introduction of drums and vocals to the mix only serves to make those comparisons all the more apt. So, let's state the general conclusion: Guitar Hero World Tour offers an experience that is so similar to what the Rock Band series has been serving up that the deciding factor for most is going to be the tracks that are on the disc. Guitar Hero World Tour feels a little coarse at times, and it's still finding its footing in the full-band format. But, it manages a few notable improvements, and it's still a pretty kick-ass Guitar Hero game.

You can buy Guitar Hero World Tour in a number of different packages, but to get everything out of the game, you'll need to pick up the Band Kit, which includes the game, a guitar controller, a drum controller, and a USB microphone. Or, at least, you'll need a set of comparable controllers, perhaps ones you picked up alongside a previous Guitar Hero or one of the Rock Band games, most of which are compatible between the two series. There are some unique touches to the new World Tour instruments, and in some ways they're better than the gear that's already out there, but they also come with a few caveats.

The new guitar has a larger, more realistically defined body shape, along with longer strum and whammy bars. It has a new star-power button right below the strum bar, basically where your palm rests. You can still activate star power by tilting the controller, and while it might be an issue of an old dog and new tricks, but I still found this method easier and less disruptive to the gameplay. Similarly, the new touch pad on the neck of the controller allows you to perform specifically marked solos without strumming, but it's an interesting feature that I didn't feel compelled to use, mostly because the buttons work just as well, and because of the time it takes to switch between the two.

This is probably the best thing about Guitar Hero World Tour.
The drums are a bit more distinct, primarily because they have five pads instead of the four found on the Rock Band drums, with two of them raised up and shaped to resemble cymbals. I came in skeptical about how this new setup would work, but in practice it's terrific. The three main pads are bigger than the Rock Band pads, making it easier to perform two-handed rolls on a single pad, and the raised cymbals make it feel a bit more like an actual drum kit. The additional pad makes the gameplay more interesting as well, and going back to Rock Band's four-pad gameplay feels a little empty. From a strictly mechanical perspective, this is the best drum experience offered in a music game right now.

The thing that really keeps me from recommending the Guitar Hero World Tour gear wholeheartedly is an issue of build quality. It's anecdotal evidence, but there are a number of people experiencing issues with pad sensitivity on the drums, myself included. I had issues with my guitar as well, which suffered from an ear-piercingly squeaky strum bar and a touch pad which, after an exceptionally heated solo, would randomly trigger even when it wasn't being touched. It's the kind of stuff that I'm confident will get worked out as the manufacturing process for these new designs get refined, but for now, if your living room is already crowded with one set of fake plastic drums and you've got more rainbow-buttoned guitars than you know what to do with, you can probably get along without adding to the clutter.

Guitar Hero World Tour makes a few tweaks to the mechanics of the different instruments as well, with uneven results. On the drums, you activate star power by hitting both of the cymbals at once, a system that I found much more dynamic and strategic than the blank fills used in Rock Band. Similarly, you activate star power on vocals by either clapping your hand against the top of the mic or pressing a button on the controller, but here it feels more intrusive and kind of awkward. When you play as a band, you share your star power meter, which makes it easier to quickly build up star power, but I found that guitar players have a distinct advantage in being able to trigger star power quickly, making it easier for those players to use star power they didn't earn.

You can get real obsessive-compulsive with the character creator.
The introduction of new types of instruments begets some alterations to the Guitar Hero single-player format, though the progression remains familiar. The game is split up into individual instrument careers for guitar, bass, vocals, and drums, as well as a band career, which requires between two and four instruments to access. The careers are broken up into set lists of three to seven songs that you play consecutively, and the different difficulty levels have been incorporated so that you can now adjust your specific difficulty level between sets, but it's ultimately not that different from past Guitar Hero games. Consequently, it can feel a little too familiar at times, and it creates a sense of isolation between the different careers.

Most of the online modes in World Tour are similarly sufficient, if unambitious, allowing you to play against other players competitively or alongside them in an online band. The big left-field inclusion in Guitar Hero World Tour is the recording studio feature, which lets you create your own music, either by playing it live on the instruments, or sequencing it note-by-note. You can then upload to a central server for other players to download and play. I realize that user-generated content is all the rage right now, but the implementation here is too byzantine for most players, and the end results just don't sound that good. Even the catchiest, most interesting songs get buried by the game's cheap synthesized sounds, and everything ends up sounding like a clumsy MIDI file.

You can play World Tour as one of the cartoonishly archetypal characters from previous Guitar Hero games, or you can use World Tour's new character creator to make your own, oddly proportioned rock star. You get a lot of control over the details of your character's face, and there's enough variety in hair style and clothing options to style something unique. It would seem that one of the side effects of the new character creator is that all of the existing Guitar Hero characters have been remodeled, and they now look more like regular people wearing crazy costumes than they did in Guitar Hero III.

Throughout the career mode, you'll be joined on stage by the likes of Billy Corgan, Travis Barker, Ozzy Osbourne, Sting, Jimi Hendrix, Zack Wylde, Ted "Theodore" Nugent, and Paramore's Hayley Williams, and though they've been exaggerated to fit better with the overall art style of World Tour, they're generally pretty accurate. You'd think that all these real rock stars would make the experience feel all the more authentic, but the way the game uses them feels odd, particularly when they're pantomiming someone else's song. There's a real cognitive dissonance to watching Ozzy lip-syncing "La Bamba."

Yo no soy marinero, soy capitan!
Stuff like that is indicative of the kind of slapped-together feel of Guitar Hero World Tour's presentation. While the Rock Band games have put a priority on knowing touches that make you feel like you're in a working band, Guitar Hero is more concerned with the fantastical, larger-than-life myth of rock 'n roll, and it lets some of the details slide. The venues are colorful and over the top with all the nuance and reality of a superhero comic book, and the band animation can feel stilted and mechanical at times. As a somewhat relevant aside, the game is pretty thick with conspicuous in-game advertising that accentuates a certain mercenary undercurrent in the game.

When it comes to song selection, Guitar Hero World Tour stays true to its name, with a slant towards songs defined by their guitars. There's a lot of crossover between Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2, both thematically and in terms of specific tracks, but World Tour leans more towards heavy metal and classic rock, exemplified by the inclusion of three songs by Tool and two each by Jimi Hendrix and Ozzy Osbourne. But it's a big track list, and it really does feature some terrific variety, with its most dramatic examples including the Beastie Boys' “No Sleep Till Brookyn,” Michael Jackson's “Beat It,” Willie Nelson's “On the Road Again,” Blondie's “One Way or Another,” and Sublime's “Santeria.”

It's all performed by the original artists, and in some cases, it's based on a live recording. For Jimi Hendrix's “Purple Haze,” you get some winking lyrical changes and a woolly, improvised guitar solo, though “Kick Out the Jams” by MC5's Wayne Kramer gets lost in the live distortion. There's something more cohesive and critically pleasing about the song selections in the Rock Band games, but Guitar Hero World Tour feels a little more populist, and is still plenty of fun to play. As far as downloadable tracks go, the game launched with a few track packs and the full Metallica Death Magnetic album available for purchase. So far, Activision doesn't seem quite as committed with the downloadable content as Harmonix has been with Rock Band, though it's definitely been ramping it up.

There are some notable feature differences between Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band, and the attitudes are wildly different, but a lot of that feels a little academic in the grand scheme. Guitar Hero has some catching up to do when it comes to the full-band experience, but all the debatable points shouldn't keep you from rocking out.
49 Comments
Posted by Thrawn1

indifference......sigh.

Posted by imayellowfellow

seems like the general consensus that the game is an admirable but not stupendous effort.

Posted by Arkthemaniac

There are four Tool songs?

Great review, but is that right?
Posted by Dipstick

This is proof that a better drumset doesn't make a better game

Posted by Everyones_A_Critic

Three tool songs actually. And great review Ryan. I pretty much agree wholeheartedly, I'd probably enjoy the game much more had the setlist been (in my opinion) better.

Posted by KristoferK

This all sounds pretty Guitar Hero 3 like, with the addition of drums and vocals. I sort of maybe want it.

Posted by Ryan

Nope, you guys are right, three Tool tracks. I misread the track list, the review will be updated accordingly.

Staff
Edited by XRevMaynardX

There is just something about GHWT that puts me off a bit. As far as big name bands go, GH kinda cleans the floor with Rockband...Hendrix, The Doors, Tool, Van Halen, Ozzy, Micheal Jackson...but the songs in between the high notes are kinda weak. La Bamba? Seriously? I love Mars Volta, but the song they choose sucks the big one. It's not even in english. (spreaking of that, about 5 or 6 songs are in a different language..kinda strange) RB feels better too....like the note patterns are a bit more "realistic"  than GH. Then to top it all off, the band (especially the drummer) looks like the Showbiz Pizza animatronic gorilla band. It's about as subtle as a kick in the nuts.

Posted by TomboDemon

i wantz it!
but can i have the drum and mic seperately?
ive got 2 gh3 guitars and the games a tad expensive

Posted by TomboDemon

oh and one more thing ryan,
can we have a video review, with footage of the giantbomb crew playing as a band?
even the latter on its own would suffice!

Posted by insanegamer

really looking forward this game when it comes out over here.

Posted by elektrixx

Fair enough. I was gonna write in and ask whether you think that RB2's 5 stars were justified using the power of hindsight, but you answered it all right there in the text.

Great review.

Posted by TheGreatGuero

"Zack Wylde, Ted "Theodore" Nugent"

Dude, you totally did that ordering on purpose, didn't you Ryan? You big Bill and Ted fan, you! You make me so proud. WYLD STALLYNS RULE!

Posted by REMOVE_NOZZLE

good review

I liked the story of the Saturday night before it came out better though :)

Posted by Coldbrand

Hm, do I want new releases every Wednesday or a Kentucky Fried Chicken Tattoo? This is so hard!

Posted by troyx

great review  ryan
i would say the best thing about GHWT is the drums and the music maker

Edited by Metamorphic

All we need is some Jimi, The Doors, Tool, and Ozzy in Rock Band 2. I would then never again touch World Tour. I hate the online play in that game. Rock Band also looks much cleaner and sharp. It has better sound, graphics, feel (imo).

Nice review there Ryan

GHWT: 4/5

RB2: 5/5

Just like I said and thought ...Damn I should be a reviewer! ,,, or not.

More things that I predicted: Fable getting a 4/5 and Fallout 3 getting a 4/5

:)

:D

Posted by MagusMaleficus

I feel pretty much the same way. World Tour is pretty good, but Rock Band 2 just does everything that much better. I guess you could say it's just a better overall experience.

Edited by Afroman269

Why is it that everyone is forgetting that you can add up to 3 cymbals for the Rock Band 2 drums? They are a whole lot better and make the experience more realistic and the hardware isn't faulty.

Posted by Superchris129

Why did Guitar Hero get a lower rating than Rock Band? No Alex Navarro. They are pretty much the same game.

Posted by cashbasket

I gave it a go for a few hours with my friend, whose wife had just bought it for him.  I went into the experience thinking "Okay, the peripherals will be awesome in design, but the drums will break before I leave."  About 2-3 hours in, not only did the yellow pad start to have serious sensitivity issues, but the red pad stopped working completely.  Part of me was disappointed, but the other part of me wanted to give myself a high-five for my Nostradamus-like abilities.

The game itself feels pretty synthetic compared to RB2, which is mostly because Neversoft is not - and never will be - Harmonix.  GHWT feels like a game made by developers, whereas RB2 feels like a game made by musicians who just so happen to know how to program.  RB2 is a living, breathing organism; GHWT is a mechanized neon billboard.  RB2 is Batman Begins; GHWT is Batman Forever.

However, GHWT isn't a complete failure.  It's fun to play, has amazing control, and has a first-rate track list.  I think the track list alone will be what really sells this game.

Posted by F1

If Guitar Hero had all the DLC that Rock Band has, I don't think I would go back to Rock Band. But I love both of them either way.

Posted by tooPrime

I don't know... I'm sort of pissed this got 4 stars, not because I wanted it to get 5 stars, but because I don't think Rock Band 2 should have gotten 5*s.   I think on paper this game is better, but the only stuff I hear justifying Rock Band 2 superiority is "it feels better" which just sounds like personal preference/bias.  Personlly Rock Band 2 felt like Rock Band 1, but worse this time around because it was so similar.  I hate the myth that everyone at Harmonix is a passionate musician who loves music and wants universal peace, so you should all love their game more!  Even if that was true, it should have no impact on how you feel about the game.  What, Jeff liked the merc girl description?  Who cares, that feature was half ass and  doesn't do anything.  I still don't know what the tatoo guy does.   Jeff doesn't like the Beat It dance repeat... hm... everytime I play Pinball \Wizard they all walk/shimy towards the camera at the sametime, everytime.  In fact a lot of Rock Band animations are repeated, they're just to boring to notice.   You don't like Ozzy singing diffrent songs Ryan?  How about when a woodsy bearded man sings We Got the Beat.

Legit point here, one of the more hidden but better things about the Guitar Hero setlist is there are very few long or offensively bad songs.  I don't know about you but when I was playing Rock Band 2, and Teenage Riot, Tangled Up in Blue, Vision, Panic Attack, Painkiller, Shoulder to the Plow, Aqualung, Shooting Star, Nine in the Afternoon, Whatawant, and any bonus song really came up I wanted to shut off the game, some of those songs are good but 7-8 minute songs are too long and grincore is horiffic.   The long Guitar Hero songs are Hotel California and Stranglehold, which I can deal with.

Posted by ValiantGoat

This game is pretty much what you expect, RockBand but with loads of small differences to accompany the many similarities.

IMHO the new WT guitar is better then GH3 and the RB guitars, provided you get a properly functioning one of course.

There's lots of small annoyances in this game, too many to list, but they are easily over looked and mainly nit-picky points.

Posted by poser

I for one as sick of music games in general (well at least in their current state) But it's a said state of affairs when a video game doesn't get a prefect score it is considered a poor game by the community. 

This is the single biggest problem that is damaging the credibility of game journalism. This website is trying to fix that, but the rest of the industry (community included) didn't seem to get the fucking memo.

Mini rant done.

Posted by coffeesash

Does the game have an extensive drum trainer like Rock Band 2? I don't know which game to go for, but seeing as RB2 has no release date in the UK, I'm pretty much stuck with GHWT and importing Rock Band 2. That's if I can stomach paying nearly $300 when all I want is the drumkit. (No seperate packages over here, sigh).

Edited by Gditz

All the replies of "Rock Band 2 is better than GHWT" makes me both sad and angry not becuase I'm a GH fanboy, although I own GH I, II and III, but simply becuase Rock Band 2 hates me.

Lets get a few things straight first, I love the whole "full band" experience that Rock Band and GHWT offers and the first time I saw and played it I knew I was going to get the whole kit, not matter what the cost. That was in 2007 and only a couple of weeks ago Rock Band (You read it right, the FIRST game) was released here.

Now I stand with the option of choosing Rock Band (No, not 2) or wait for a few weeks and get GHWT.

What would you do if you were in my shoes? Get an outdated drumkit with only 4 pads or or a new one with 5 pads?

Posted by Media_Master

Not interested!

Posted by sociald1077

I am having a great time with GHWT. But I do have to say that I play by myself for the most part, so I don't really get the band experience part. I'll say this though, I enjoy playing the guitar parts in GH more than RB, but I like the drums more in RB.

To me, the best solution is to have both, and then put together a set of instruments that you are comfortable with. Mix and match and then have some fun.

Online
Posted by MKHavoc

I already have a guitar, so I might just get the disc for this.

Posted by roofy

i think we need a consensus on which to buy.
i keep flip flopping on which one is better.

Posted by SleepingLesson

I like Giant Bomb reviews because the 5-star systems encourages you to actually read the review, rather than just glance at the score.

Posted by Kiemoe

If you're thinking about which game to get, just think about this: As of October 21st, Wikipedia has recorded 273 available songs for Rock Band. As of today, Guitar Hero 3, which had nearly a month's head start, has 68 available songs. You should get whichever one you want, I'm just saying, I think RedOctane is a little more interested in advertising than giving you some replay value.

Posted by DJ_Lae

The game is fun, but it feels really sterile compared to Rock Band. Very subdued crowds, boring characters and outfits, creepy (as fuck) celebrity appearances, and poorly mixed tracks make for a fun but not very satisfying rhythm game. Guess money really can't buy you everything.

Posted by ssargentshooter

Rockband FTW

Posted by spilledmilkfactory

i don't like too many of the songs in these rhythm games, although interpol and modest mouse in GHWT are pleasing. i think i'll wait and see how the DLC for GH turns out before spending the cash.

Posted by SgtReznor

It's kinda hard to review RockBand-esq games now, because what's already could be done, I think has been done with the format. Like you said at the start, it's really going to be the tracklisting that sells it. Being a massive Tool fan, it's pretty much a no-brainer for me.

Things like the repeated dance steps, or seeing a particularly famous person singing another famous band's song doesn't really bother me - once you're playing, you're usually too busy concentrating on the notes to realise those things.

Posted by Nick8708

I'm considering picking up the disc for this since I've already got the instrument situation squared away via RB, but I may wait a couple months for the price to drop.  I'm really only interested in the classic rock artists (especially Hendrix)  in this game and have no interest in playing out a career mode or online or anything else but just those songs.  I'm hoping that other hard-to-get classic artists start finding their way into games; the Beatles game is awesome (gotta appreciate the precedent it sets, even if you aren't interested in them specifically).  I love RB and doubt I'll ever become as enthralled with GH, but whoever is the first to ink a deal to get Led Zeppelin tracks ingame will earn my diehard loyalty foreverandever.

Posted by NolaSoundman

The in-game advertising amazingly enough completely turned me off of this game.  This is the first time I've played a game that has completely taken me out of the experience with its shameless advertising and done a good job of pissing me off.  What the hell does Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Blu-Ray disc have to do with either Guitar Hero, rhythm gaming or rock n' roll? 


Also, the drums suck

Posted by PsYuSoFly

Rock Band 2 better than GH:WT.

Posted by Jayzilla

this game is like heroin. the first few times you try it GH1 & 2, it's the best thing you've ever done. Then once you've been there, you just end up a strung out junkie: Aerosmith GHWT. Rock Band will probably end up the same way, but there is just something a little more solid about those games than the GH games lately.  It kinda feels like what happened with the Tony Hawk games, except the first few installments of that were like crack, not heroin. And if you've ever done crack or heroin, you know what I am talking about. :P

Posted by AgileNate

Ha, I love Ryan's 4 Star review Image. :D

Posted by mrdre

I was a Guitar heroes fan, then I switched to Rock Band. Both products are now so similar that it's pretty much a toss up between the two.

Posted by damnboyadvance

I still prefer the Rock Band drums, especially since it's not a RIP OFF!

Edited by Raiden36O

I honestly don't see why anyone likes these games, just seems like a glorified quick time button press minigame with music in the background. Maybe i'm missing something, but it doesn't seem worth $250 just so you can pretend your talented at guitar.

Edited by starfox444

What astonishes me is the lack of comparison to the already well established arcade style music/rythm games, there are so many that are so good. DDR, beatmania, drummania, guitarfreaks, taiko no tatsujin, pop'n'music to name the ones i can just grab off the top of my head. I'm not saying that you should go comparing to form a review but it seems nothing is learnt on Harmonix and RedOctane's part when making successful rythm game is to see what has already been successful and see how that can benefit their game by either incorporating or innovating that feature. That and the tracklists are so short, i mean honestly with the ps3 you have 50gigs worth of possible songlist. With alternatives like DTXmania, downloaded song packs and an arcade style drum-kit ordered in, i fail to see why i should get GH or RB. Unless of course that is if you like the songs more than a few hundred free ones you can get.

@Raiden360

Either you like it or you don't. I just think its fun to make sounds come out and have a nice sounding song come out of nowhere + the timing with the buttons and all. But really, you either like it or you don't.

Posted by explosion

I rather liked the review mate. It just makes more sense to get Rock band 2 for me, as this review confirms. I have, say 90 songs on RB1, plus 100 from the second, gives you a whopping 200 songs. Even if the guitar charts suck, even if there are still a few songs that make you go wtf, it just makes more sense.

Posted by Jackel2072

my rock band is 2000 miles away so i will pick this up for out here on the east coast!

Online
Posted by Slashee_the_Cow

Being an Australian, I bought this since I don't want EA to think that they can get away with an overpriced, year-old game. I guess that's kind of evidenced by the fact that I had to back order GH, while Rock Band boxes were just piling up.

Admittedly, I might buy RB game-only sometime, but it'll only be for the different track list.