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Guitar Hero World Tour: Hands-on Preview

Company: Activision
Product: Guitar Hero World Tour

Some people ask me what is the coolest thing about being a videogame reviewer - whether it's the money, the supermodels throwing themselves at me, the rock stars wanting to hang out with me... and I say it's none of these things. (It's true... I don't get any of those.) What I do get, occasionally, are awesome opportunities to get some hands-on time with games before they're available to the public. So, Tuesday, September 9th, I found myself in Santa Monica, at the "Margarita Mix" recording studio for a press-only, hands-on preview event. And I have to say, I was floored.

I have been a fan of Guitar Hero since its introduction, but since I prefer games that get more players actively engaged (more entertaining at parties), when Rock Band came out, that was my new hotness. You can't beat having your very own four-piece band rocking the house at a party.

Evidently, the Guitar Hero folks agree, as Guitar Hero World Tour is a rock-steeped response to Rock Band, with gusto. Much like Rock Band, Guitar Hero World Tour allows four players to play, using two guitar controllers, one drum controller and a microphone. RedOctane and Neversoft didn't stop there, however, but instead have packed new features and enhancements into the new controllers and Guitar Hero World Tour, itself, that mixes the goodness of the Guitar Hero series and Rock Band and throws in some extra lovin' for good measure.


Instruments

Guitars

RedOctane has reworked the guitar controllers quite a bit. They are wireless controllers with one set of five colored buttons at the end of the neck and a touch sensitive area closer to the body that allows for much easier sliding between the different notes, giving a feeling more similar to playing a fretless guitar, for those of you who know what that's like. Additionally, there is a button built into the bridge (at the bottom of the neck) that is a select button, with a ridge around it to keep it from being accidentally hit during a performance. A D-pad is cleverly disguised as a guitar volume or effect knob and is out of the way, on the edge of the body, to prevent accidental activation, as well.

Drums

You've likely seen the drum set for Guitar Hero World Tour before, but it's worth pointing out that instead of the four pad plus kick drum that is featured in Rock Band, Guitar Hero World Tour features a drum set with three drums, two cymbals and a kick drum. That's one extra thing to (intentionally) hit, for those who are looking for something more challenging. Not only that, but these drums feature velocity sensitivity, which means that if you hit harder, the drums sound louder. Rock Band's drums were analog; they were either not hit or they were. Velocity sensitivity goes a long way to give you creative control as a drummer.

Microphone

Well, there's not much to say here, other than the fact that Guitar Hero World Tour now includes a microphone. It is corded, and the cord seemed to be of a reasonable length, but it doesn't have any bells or whistles that I noticed. Which is probably fine. It's a microphone. Moving on.

Player Created/Edited Content

Custom Characters

Guitar Hero to date has had a stock of specific characters for you to choose from. Guitar Hero World Tour introduces character creation and customization features that rival those of Rock Band. Now, you can make a character that looks like you (or how you would look if you were a rock star) and start your own band. Well, in the game anyway. It's only a game. (Repeat that last statement as needed.)

Custom Guitars

That's right - you can now customize your guitar, from the body and neck to the pickups. This goes much deeper than merely choosing graphics to slap on your guitar. If you actually have a guitar, you might be able to do a pretty good job of reproducing it in-game. And that's pretty awesome in my book. However, the ultimately-amazing feature in Guitar Hero World Tour that may change the way people look at, and use, the genre has got to be...

Custom Created SONGS

Take a minute to think about that. This is a feature that hackers at large were putting long hours into on previous versions, finding ways to put their own content into the game. The nice folks behind Guitar Hero love to see the creativity and passion behind this movement and have actually built an editor into the game. I've had an opportunity to play around with this editor and this could change everything. Players will be able to create their own songs and custom album artwork, then upload these songs to the online community, where they will be available for download FOR FREE. Not everyone will be interested in creating songs, but it's hard to argue with free downloadable content. This is a feature that Rock Band will be hard-pressed to defend against.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated