Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Review
By - Richard J.
Over the past few years, the Guitar Hero series has been on an increasingly devastating spiral down. After hitting its hayday in 2006 and Harmonix leaving in 2007, the series seems to have gotten worse and worse. Personally, I was always a huge fan of the Guitar Hero games. I loved the challenge they brought opposed to their competitor Rock Band. It's easy to see that the series was self-destructing, but I was holding out hope for this new entry. Does Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock reinvigorate my love for the series, or having me say goodbye to a series I loved?
For this new entry in the series, Neversoft wanted to reshape and rebuild the stagnant series. The first step in their attempt to rebuild the series is adding in a narrative. In the months leading up to Warriors of Rock's release, Activision tried to sell the game based on this feature. Unfortunately, this feature is horribly implemented and not a must buy feature. The over arching story is about a group of eight rockers coming together to topple the demigod of rock. Through playing set lists, each of the eight rockers turn into their "ultimate" forms and come together to save the Demigod of Rock from a mechanized character called "The Beast". What ruins the story is how boring it is. Each character has about 30 seconds of CG showing them approaching the stage they play on. After the set list, there is another CG video that shows off their transformations. Throughout the story mode there are a few more cutscenes, but nothing that left an impact on me.
Now most of you are probably thinking: "A bad story, no problem. Guitar Hero is all about the gameplay; Guitar Hero is all about the rock!" Once again though, Neversoft misses the mark. The base gameplay of pushing coloured buttons to corresponding notes on the screen is still there, but hasn't reached a proper evolution. Neversoft has attempted to evolve the gameplay by adding more notes and special abilities, but it all falls short.
The increase in notes and special abilities are an attempt to reach the hardcore audience and make the game harder. However it does the contrary, and instead makes most of the game much easier. The increase in notes but decrease in difficulty create an ego boosting effect for those who are deep in Guitar Hero. The power-ups available are each character specific. Some examples of them are protection to prevent from losing streaks, increased star power, and the ability to come back after failing. After relying on power ups and special abilities, I have found it hard to play a previous Guitar Hero game.
Probably the worst part of the gameplay in Warriors of Rock is the uninspired and uneven setlist mechanic in the single-player Quest Mode. Every Guitar Hero game has certain setlist tiers to guide players throught the story mode, each setlist tier increasing in difficulty as they go on. In Warrior's of Rock, the setlists are not organized by difficulty, but by genre. This makes for setlist tiers that can be boring to certain players and full of music they don't like. It also leads to uneven difficulty. Every other setlist includes one song that is at a much higher difficulty than the rest of the songs. Overall this seems like a simple mistake that Neversoft made, but has such a huge impact on the game. This mistake is balanced a bit by the ability to instantly change your difficulty level while playing. No longer do players have to have a different career save if they want to play on a higher or lower difficulty. The ability to switch at any time may seem like something that is small, but can have a huge impact on someone who is uncertain about what level they should be playing the Quest Mode on.
Warriors of Rock also has Quick Play modes, online modes, and the song creation studio, but none of those features are worth going in depth into here. All of these modes have just been copied from previous Guitar Hero games with a few additions here and there. The game has an impressive amount of modes and stuff to do, but keep in mind that most of it isn't new to the series. This gives Warriors of Rock a cumulative feeling that makes me think that this may be one of the last, if not the last traditional Guitar Hero game we see.
Graphics wise, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is a slight upgrade from the previous games. Just like Guitar Hero: World Tour and Guitar Hero 5 the environments in the game are restricted to the stage. This time around some of the stages are in some interesting locations, but are nothing to write home about. Certain CG cutscenes have some impressive graphics for the series, but they still do not compete with the rest of the games being released. Unfortunately, the character models don't change my opinion on the graphics. While Neversoft has finally gotten the character models properly proportioned, the upgraded characters look terrible. The character designs seem like Neversoft had some cool ideas, but ended up coming way to short when trying to make it appeal to a younger audience. For instance, one of the female characters rips her skin off to transform. She transforms into a snake which is cool, but looks so much like a cartoon that it completely removes the dark and brutal feel of the game. It's a shame that Neversoft didn't get these character models right because you can see they had such great ideas, but once again misstepped when trying to implement these great ideas.
From the beginning, there was one important area that Warriors of Rock needed to rule. That area is the sound department, and ultimately, Warriors of Rock does a pretty good job with audio. To start, Warriors of Rock has an okay soundtrack. The soundtrack appeals to the typical metal head Guitar Hero player, but has a few other songs thrown in for others. Personally I'm not a huge fan of the music, but I recognize that Neversoft knows their audience and is catering directly to them. What isn't good about the soundtrack is the inclusion of a few questionable songs. In every addition to the series, it seems that more and more "fluff tracks" are added in order to snatch a few unknowing gamers and have them playing a game they won't like. Warriors of Rock features "Bleed it Out" by Linkin Park, "Dance, Dance" by Fallout Boy and "How you Remind Me" by Nickelback. These songs stand out as sores in their respective setlists and do more harm on most gamers' opinion of the game than good.
Each of these songs continue to have the great audio quality that the Guitar Hero series is known for. Most of the songs sound like they are master recordings, and the live performances are also of great quality. Unfortunately, the big increase in notes makes the guitar drown out the sound of the quality audio. Unless you are playing a few feet away from the TV and have the sound up really high, you will end up hearing the clacking of the guitar more than the songs you are playing. All of the game's Quest Mode is narrated by Gene Simmons. Simmons has a great performance, but it is easy to see how over-the-top it is. While Simmons performance may be great, the lines he is given to read are absolutely terrible. Full of terrible puns, cliches, and immature jokes, the narration is hilariously bad. Thankfully, these lines aren't plentiful in the Quest Mode. I wish Simmons was given much better lines as his performance could have had a much bigger impact on how good the Quest Mode is.
Another bright spot for Warriors of Rock is the huge amount of replay value. Once players are done with the six to eight hour Quest Mode, there are a plethora of other game modes which I have touched upon earlier. The huge setlist can be played locally with the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and it can also be played online. The song creation tool and the "Jamming" tools can also suck up a bunch of time. While most of these modes may be recycled from the other Guitar Hero games, they can still take up hours of time, while also remaining fun.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is the ultimate misstep in the Guitar Hero series. Neversoft had a bunch of good ideas, but they all fell apart in execution. The prospect of an epic narrative in the Guitar Hero series was interesting, but it ended up being a mess. The increase in notes and the addition of special abilities in the gameplay may appeal to the hardcore fans, but end up ruining the game for everyone else. On a better note, the audio is fantastic and the game has a ton of replay value. Warriors of Rock is a game that feels good when you first start playing, but ends up falling flat on its face when you are done with it. I can only recommend this game to the most hardcore players of the series. All other music game fans are much better off skipping Warriors of Rock and holding out hope that Neversoft can turn this dieing series around.
- Good ideas despite poor execution
- Fantastic audio
- Improved graphics
- Great replay value
- Poor narrative
- Uninspired and boring gameplay
- Fun has been completely removed from the classic gameplay
- Awful character designs