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Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock (X360)

Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock (X360)

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Review

Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock (X360) Review

Back in 2005 we experienced one of those releases which redefine gaming for a generation, the release of Guitar Hero. Selling over a million copies it brought a new style of game and gameplay to a home market and earned rave reviews throughout the industry. As is always the case with popular games Guitar Hero was quickly followed by a sequel which improved on various aspects of the original, including the use of more songs and since then over 3 million units have been sold.

Our favourite game in the series, Legends of Rock, was the next main title to be released but despite refined gameplay, additional modes and a fantastic track listing reviews were not quite as favourable as the first two titles. For some the lower rating was due to tweaks which occurred to the game mechanic, others were put off by more challenging aspects such as Star Power being harder to achieve. In reality though we had started to see the beginning of Guitar Hero fatigue in the press. You can have too much of a good thing after all…

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Since "Legends of Rock" Activision has released two main sequels, World Tour and "5" along with a few minor releases focusing on bands such as Aerosmith. Sales and reviews have been mixed and although the games have been solid and new elements such as band play have been added it feels like some time since a truly great Guitar Hero game has been released… or one which brings something different to the stage.

Enter Guitar Hero "Warriors of Rock" which attempts to do two main things in order to restore the franchise to its former glory. First up we have a return to a more rock based soundtrack, something which will appeal to those who first fell in love with the original 3 games. Then we have "Quest Mode", a story based career mode which will try to add something new to the standard career gameplay.

At the end of last week Gaming Heaven staff sprayed on the skin tight leather trousers, donned the sleeveless denim jacket along with some steel toe capped boots and locked themselves away in a dark room to shred until the game was complete… or the bleeding from our fingers was too much.

Was Warriors of Rock worth the pain?


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As always with a new version of Guitar Hero, Activision has developed a new guitar controller. The new controller is quite different to the versions we have seen in the past and has a more compact design and LESS functionality, though that is a good thing. Gone are the buttons closest to the guitar body, instead its classic mode with 5 fret buttons next to the neck combined with the strum button and whammy bar. We don’t know about anyone else but the various versions of touch sensitive pads which have graced previous controllers never seemed to work well and so we always reverted back to the main green, red, yellow, blue and orange buttons. Now that is the only way to play, which is reflected in the game as it no longer has sliding notes, making life easier. The new guitar initially feels odd to hold for those who are used to the newer models however after a few songs it feels just as good as the Les Paul from Legends of Rock. In addition to this the sensitivity is spot on, ideal for fast passages of play, and the unit feels very sturdy… ideal for those who like to play hard.

So to the game itself; at the core of Warriors of Rock is a game which an evolution of Guitar Hero 5 and World Tour. We retain the ability to play as guitar, bass and drums with the option to try vocals if we wish. Notes/beats still come down "the highway" towards us and have to be hit in sync to the music, vocals have to be sung in time and tune. We can select to play in quick-play mode, party mode or career mode and the more creative amongst us can make their own tunes. In the various modes we can pass challenges and gain rewards which can be compared against our friends or the larger guitar hero universe and of course there are the usual selection of options such as playing against other players in competitive mode. So far, so standard.

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Where things get a little more interesting is the new twist on career, or as its now known, quest mode. In quest mode we start by seeing an age old battle between the demigod of rock and "The Beast". During this battle The Beast is victorious and imprisons the demigod of rock in one location and his legendary guitar in another. Our mission is to gather a group, "Warriors of Rock" to find the guitar, defeat The Beast and save our glorious leader. Quest mode is narrated by Gene Simmons and while it’s not a clever or deep story, it serves its purpose well.

From here on we select chapters based around individual characters. Each has their own mini-story, style of play and as a result of both, genre of music. As with previous games each level/chapter is completed by passing songs and gathering stars. Activision and Neversoft have tweaked the game slightly in this regard though. With the different styles of play each character has their own special power, some for example start with their rock meter filled and we can gain extra stars by overfilling this area. Others have powers which give us extra stars for maintaining a higher multiplier and then there are options such as gaining star power for every ten consecutive notes. This minor tweak in the game mechanic makes a huge difference and not being limited to 5 star performances makes it a much more enjoyable experience for guitar hero experts. It also serves to vary the gameplay slightly from chapter to chapter as we have to play slightly differently to achieve the extra stars.

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As mentioned above, during each chapter we are set a number of stars to achieve and when this is achieved, rather than move on to the next level as in previous games our character goes through a transformation into a super being, a Warrior of Rock. Following the transformation we get to play one further song as the character who is essentially now supercharged before unlocking extras such as venues and items then moving onto the next warrior. When we have gathered enough warriors of rock we reach the first major challenge, the battle to gain "The Guitar". This takes a rather unique form. In this section the members of Rush narrate a story which ties in with the opening track of their 2112 album. Mixed in with the narrative are the various sections of the 20m 33 second track which we must play, and complete to be deemed worthy of holding the guitar. This King Arthur, sword in the stone style section would be reasonably standard if it wasn’t for one major aspect… at this stage our Warriors are all playing together, special powers combined in an attempt to gain as many stars as possible. The combination of classic rock track combined with ability to gain a massive number of stars (15-20 every few minutes) is one of the all-time highlights of the entire Guitar Hero franchise.

From then on we open up further warriors, progressing the gameplay and story in the same way with the ultimate aim being the completion of songs such as Sudden Death which was created by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth specifically for Warriors of Rock.

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Not too much has changed on the graphics front with Warriors of Rock. The game still has the same loud, over the top, cartoonish feel to it and given that we are on the sixth main incarnation of the franchise it is slick and polished. There is no attempt made at finding a lifelike look or feel which is fine and all of the characters have their own style and the various venues are all rendered well, looking significantly different to the others. The Rush Starman inspired venue is a highlight for music geeks but really the backgrounds are only really there for spectators as our main focus is always on the stream of coloured dots heading towards us on the highway.

It is also worth mentioning that Neversoft have added a few nice touches throughout the game, Bohemian Rhapsody being a fantastic example of the development team having some fun.

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As always with Guitar Hero audio plays a hugely important part in the game and the latest version of this franchise never disappoints. Gone are the wishy washy middle of the road pop songs which had infiltrated the game over the past couple of years; our setlist, with over 90 songs on the disc, is taken entirely from the punk, metal, alternative and classic rock genres. The nature of the game means that there will be no way to please every taste but a return to the harder rocking sound of the early games will please Hero veterans and the back to basics soundtrack makes for a much better experience in guitar only mode.

Particular highlights for us, other than the fantastic 2112 level, were Pour Some Sugar on Me (live), Money for Nothing and Paranoid (live featuring Metallica and Ozzy Ozbourne) which gives some indication of the track variation in the game. In addition to the 90+ songs available in the game we also have access to our previously downloaded material, all with their own rewards added, and anyone who has installed their old games to the hard drive will find their Metallica, World Tour, Hits and Band Hero songs available in quickplay and party mode also. That’s over 500 songs in total!

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This is the last Guitar Hero game we will see from Neversoft in their current form and with their final attempt we have the best version since Legends of Rock, in fact it may prove to be better than that release in time.

At its core Warriors of Rock is a proper Guitar Hero game, gone are the songs which left us bored as other instruments took to the fore. This is all about rocking on the guitar and the game as a whole benefits from this. There is still plenty to do for the rest of the band but an emphasis on guitar keeps the game focused throughout. Changes to the career mode also work exceptionally well, pushing us to keep playing, challenging us to play slightly differently in order to meet each characters strengths and in the change to star limits returns the fun factor to the game for veteran players.

In terms of value Warriors of Rock has a whole lot going for it, a huge single player campaign (over 10 hours to fully complete), masses of songs for quick and party play, the ability to write our own material and multiple online modes and challenges to keep things going after the quest is complete. Few games have this level of longevity.

A return to form for the Guitar Hero franchise. Warriors of Rock brings back the fun to playing Guitar Hero and with it the "just one more level" addiction which was so good in earlier titles. Over the top, yes. Silly, yes. Challenging, absolutely but always enjoyable.

Gameplay 88/100 A refined mechanic which makes the game fun, challenging and different enough to previous titles. Quest mode keeps the player interested and there are some classic Hero moments contained in this game.
Graphics 85/100 Exactly what we expect from Guitar Hero. The backgrounds and characters are more for spectators than players but they look good throughout, hitting the feel that Neversoft and Activision were aiming for.
Audio 90/100 The best track listing since Legends of Rock. Designed to appeal to those who focus on guitar mode. There will be some songs which dont appeal to everyone but the majority of tracks are fun, challenging and interesting.
Value 90/100 With a long career/quest campaign, plenty of unlocks, challenges and play modes there is loads to keep fans of the series interested. Add to that the ability to download content and import songs from other versions of the game and we have huge long term value.
(Not an Average)
89/100 Does exactly what Guitar Hero should. Creates an enjoyable representation of the real thing which is challenging and introduces players to new music they may not have heard before. Most importantly though Warriors of Rock brings back the fun, addictive elements which previous versions had lost.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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