Activision Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s
- It's more Guitar Hero! Who wouldn't want that?
- It's basically an expansion pack with all the bonus features cut out.
Playing Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s is a bit like going to see your favourite band on an off-night -- even if they don't rock the house down, you're still going to have a killer time.
Price$ 69.95 (AUD)
When Guitar Hero made its power sliding debut onto the gaming stage last year, few people could have anticipated the cultural phenomenon that would follow. In much the same way that rock n' roll revolutionised the music industry, it has irrevocably changed the landscape of video games, harbouring in a new age of headbanging, social-based gaming.
In addition to injecting the 'casual' genre with some much needed street cred, it has gone on to outsell almost every other game on the block; making Activision the world's top publisher in the process. If you'll allow us a bad REM pun, it's the end of hardcore gaming as we know it (and we feel fine!)
For those who have somehow managed to bypass the hype machine, Guitar Hero is a rhythm-based party game that lets you live out your axeman fantasies with a miniature Gibson SG. Naturally, the aim of the game is to 'strum' along to legendary rock hits, via colour-coordinated prompts on screen (in place of strings, the guitar has five coloured buttons running down its neck). Like any great video game, the concept is easy to pick up yet difficult to master; with the five fret control board taking some seriously dexterous fingerwork to master.
Although it can be easily dismissed as a glorified bout of air-guitar, the series has proved to be one of the most entertaining and gloriously self-indulgent experiences in video games; proving that fun is the only ingredient that matters. You really need to strap the guitar on yourself to appreciate how addictive the whole thing is.
After rocking fans' and critics' faces off with an equally successful sophomore effort, the Guitar Hero franchise is now taking one final encore before it moves on to next-gen consoles (it will also be the final game by original developers Harmonix, who have since defected to EA's Rock Band label). As its name heavily implies, Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s takes the tried-and-trusted GH formula and decks it out with headbands, big hair and neon-coloured costumes. The available set list consists solely of songs from this fashion tragic era, including such hits as 'Heat of the Moment' by Asia, 'Nothin' But a Good Time' by Poison, and 'I Wanna Rock' by Twisted Sister. However, with just 30 songs to shred along to (compared to over 60 in GH 2) we can't help but feel a little ripped off. It would seem that the franchise has committed the darkest of all rock n' roll cliches ... and completely sold out.
Instead of turning everything up to 11, the game resets the proverbial dial to a piddling seven or eight, with several annoying exclusions. For instance, one of the coolest features of the first two games was the ability to purchase additional songs from contemporary indie-label bands. This hugely extended the shelf life of both games and introduced us to some interesting and eclectic music, such as Freezepop's synth-heavy Less Talk More Rokk.
Unfortunately, by relegating itself to music from one decade, Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s has been forced to cut this feature out -- instead, you're stuck with the main soundtrack, with nothing to unlock thereafter. This wouldn't be so bad if the included songs were quintessential 80s anthems, but many of the tracks are obscure or forgettable. In terms of actual bands, AC/DC, Queen, Guns & Roses, Aerosmith and Motley Crue are all noticeably absent. At times, you'll feel less like Bono and more like Bill Gates as you strum along to the dorkier beats.
Another bizarre omission is the colourful cast of unlockable characters that appeared in the first two games. For reasons we can't begin to fathom, all the extra avatars have been removed with the exception of the Grim Ripper (who now sports a pair of 3-D glasses and some Flava Flav-style bling). We can only assume that the rest of the cast, which included Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix look-alikes, were cut to keep the game in line with its 1980s setting. In any event, it's a frustrating decision that in no way alleviates the game's cheap, knock-off feel.
As you would expect, the modes and levels in Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s play out identically to Guitar Hero 1 and 2 - once again, the career mode sends you on a road trip towards fame and fortune, while the multiplayer mode still offers cooperative or competitive play. Visually, the game is nearly indistinguishable from its predecessors, with all the same old venues cropping up in barely altered form. Indeed, apart from some tweaked character designs and a garishly coloured front-end, the retro touches are kept to a minimum and feel like an afterthought. When you consider the huge comedy potential offered by glam rock and its ilk, the lack of 80s cheese is as baffling as it is disappointing.
The main problem we have with the game however, is its very cheeky asking price. Frankly, $69.95 (sans guitar controller) is far too expensive for an 80s-flavoured expansion pack with zero extras. It is perhaps telling that the game will not be appearing on Xbox 360 despite a highly successful conversion of Guitar Hero 2 earlier this year. There simply isn't enough 'game' here to merit a full priced release... Or is there?
As you have probably gleaned from the score at the top of this page, we still highly enjoyed Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s despite our various misgivings. How can we [i]not[/i] love it? It's Guitar Hero! Although the critic in us sneers at the game for being a rushed and cynical hack-job, our hearts remain steadfast fans. As soon as we plugged our guitar back in and strapped it around our shoulders that same sense of pure, unadulterated joy returned with a vengeance.
Simply put, when a game is this much fun we're willing to forgive a hell of a lot, which is why we're giving it two 'devil horns' of approval. If you're a stickler for value however, we advise picking up a 'bootlegged' (read: second hand) copy.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 2 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 3 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 4 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
- 5 Parrot Mambo Drone review
Latest News Articles
- Watch Dogs 2 PC impressions: A smooth-running romp through meme-filled San Francisco
- Hearthstone fans now have a dedicated Skype chat room to challenge its best players
- You'll be able to stream Xbox One games on the Oculus Rift in December
- Doom running on the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar is the latest hilarious 'Doom on dumb stuff' hack
- Massive Civilization VI update adds DirectX 12, new multiplayer mode and maps
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCInfrastructure Project ManagerNSW
- FTFront End DeveloperVIC
- FT.NET DEVELOPER | MID-SENIOR LEVEL | MEDIA INDUSTRYNSW
- CCHadoop DeveloperSA
- CCSenior PMO Coordinator, FinanceNSW
- CCData Analyst - Excel focusedNSW
- CCSolution Designer - Investment/Trading PlatformNSW
- FTCommercial, Contract, Vendor ManagementVIC
- CCAPI DeveloperOther
- TPPHP Programmer - SeniorQLD
- FTPractice AdvisorACT
- FTSoftware Implementation ConsultantVIC
- CCIteration Manager / Scrum MasterQLD
- FTSenior Project EngineerNSW
- FTAngular DeveloperSA
- CCSenior Technical LeadACT
- CCService Monitoring Specialist - Information SecurityVIC
- TPBusiness Change ManagerQLD
- FTTelecom Riggers and TechniciansNSW
- CCSenior Information Management SMENSW
- CCService Desk Tier 3 EngineerQLD
- FTPMO Coordinator - Permanent Opportunity!NSW
- TPSenior Project AnalystNSW
- TPJava Developer - ContractQLD
- TPAnalyst Work Place SupportVIC