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Guitar Hero: World Tour

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4: 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Rhythm/ Party/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

I'll admit it, I wasn't that excited when I heard that Guitar Hero: World Tour would take the Rock Band route and include both drums and vocals. For me, one of the primary draws to Guitar Hero was that it focused purely on the guitar. As good a game as Rock Band is, it isn't much fun to play without a group of friends. While my crew has never been shy to jam on plastic instruments, it usually takes a little liquid coaxing.

To that end, I was excited to see that although the game's song list has something for everyone, it still places a lot of focus on the guitar as the primary instrument. Overall the track list is great; all of the songs are really fun and songs you can really get into if you let yourself. All of the songs are things you would more than likely hear at a good karaoke bar (emphasis on good) and, for the most part, songs you'll want to keep playing. Compared to other games, this was the first game where my friends and I had a really hard time deciding what to do next. Even better, it was the first game where both my mom and sister knew more than two songs, proving that there really is something for everyone's tastes. There are, of course, a few oddballs in the group you'll never want to play after initially unlocking them, but for the most part, the set list is great. I even discovered a few new bands, which is another big plus.

Nearly all of the songs are original cuts and some are even accompanied by a digital version of the original artist. Playing a Sting song is one thing, but being able to play a live version of a Sting song with a digital Sting on stage is another. The sound quality is really good on most of the songs, though the live versions sound a bit muffled.

On the visual side of the presentation, World Tour carries the same visual style found in past games, but gives them a nice HD sprucing up. All of the characters from past games return and feature new outfits. You can also create your own unique rock idol or customize your instrument. The number of venues has been dramatically increased and features loads of personality. There's even a group of specialized venues, mainly for the Tool songs, that feel like a living album cover.


Guitar Hero: World Tour's underlying structure remains mostly untouched, though the inclusion of new instruments does shake up the formula. One of the more noticeable changes is to Career Mode. Rather than simply run down a list, you instead play through a series of short gigs. Each set has its own venue and offers a few surprises. Some follow a basic format where you play through three songs and an encore, while others welcome special guests on stage. Sometimes you'll have the opportunity to play alongside musicians like Billy Corgin from The Smashing Pumpkins or Paramore's Hayley Williams, while other times you'll have to face the likes of Ted Nugent or Zakk Wylde in guitar battles.

Even as I type this, I can already hear a few groans at the mention of guitar battles. Granted they were never the most popular of the game's features, but the entire system has been reworked. The awkward power-up system is gone; now the song jumps back-and-forth between players and you just need to perform better.

One of the more exciting additions to World Tour is Music Studio Mode. If you've ever dabbled with the notion that you could write a great song, Music Studio gives you the chance to do just that. The only thing you can't do in Music Studio is lay down vocals, which no doubt involves some sort of legal issues. I know the idea behind the mode is for would-be songwriters to share their own original tracks, but one look at any sort of user-created mode will tell you that most of the time people just recreate what already exists. Once you've completed your song, you can upload it to the World Tour servers and let others try it out.


While great for solo play, Guitar Hero: World Tour faces a few issues when it comes to getting the group together. Although Career Mode features a really good layout for displaying songs, the Quick Play menu is just a list, and not a very good one at that. Running down the list is somewhat of a hassle and a pain to navigate. On the plus side, you can take an entire band through Career and even though you'll need to unlock a few things, it is worth not having to scroll through a list.

Additionally, the screen layout could use a little tweaking. The entire band draws from a combined pool for Star Power. The meter is clearly visible, though only if you're looking in the top-left section of the screen, which doesn't help if your note chart isn't to the left or top. It isn't that big a deal, but like the Quick Play list, it is an unnecessary hassle that will hopefully be corrected the next time around. A few additional band modes wouldn't hurt either.

Guitar Hero: World Tour adds a new difficulty level, Beginner, where you just have to strum along with notes and not worry about pressing the fret buttons. While I don't see much of a point to the mode, after all it seems to take away from the point of the game, it is hard to deny that it isn't a good move for the ultra-casual players. At its core, the game is supposed to be something everyone can enjoy, so you have to give Neversoft some credit for taking everyone's skill level into account.

If you do decide to step up your skill level, a number of tutorials are available. Unlike previous games, tutorials are now broken up by sections so you can focus on certain skills rather than being forced to go through everything.

Game Mechanics:

Outside the added difficulty level, Guitar Hero: World Tour feels like every other Guitar Hero game. The window for hitting notes is a little wider than Rock Band, which means there aren't as many missed notes. There are, however, a number of smaller tweaks. The guitar has been redesigned; the button layout makes more sense, there's a little more heft and it doesn't look as much like a plastic toy anymore. The biggest change is the new touch-sensitive tap pad located at the base of the guitar. During songs, you'll come across notes tied together by a purple thread, indicating that you can slide your way through the section. Basically, this allows you to cheat through some of the harder sections. You aren't required to use the tap pad, but it's a nice option to have. The only other major addition to guitars is the inclusion of an "open note," which is represented by a purple bar, for bass players. When these notes come up, you only have to strum without pressing a fret button. It's a simple thing, but adds a whole lot for bass players.

The drum set is far and away better than the one that comes with Rock Band. It is much quieter and the layout feels much better. I was a drummer all through high school and, as much as I wanted to play the drum sections in Rock Band, I could never get used to the layout. The new set looks much closer to a real drum set and even includes two cymbals, which make all the difference when playing along with a song.

Even though I wasn't sure about the "new look" Guitar Hero, Neversoft did a great job of integrating the new experience with the old. There are still a few noticeable blemishes, but the overall package is great. When it comes to the question of whether to buy Guitar Hero: World Tour or Rock Band 2, it all depends on what you're looking for. Since I prefer the solo play in World Tour to Rock Band, I'm more inclined to go with World Tour. However, Rock Band 2 does offer a larger set list, so in the end it is really just a Coke vs. Pepsi debate and comes down to personal preference.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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