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 newsletter!
Bringing VR out of office and study spaces will serve to help it attract the new audiences it needs to continue growing
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S9+ review: A predictably-exellent flagship uplifted by a standout camera
- 2 Panasonic Lumix G9 review: A mirrorless moulded to the needs of still-shooters
- 3 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Ring Video Doorbell review
Latest News Articles
- High Court dismisses Valve’s special leave to appeal $3 million fine
- Wargaming signs publishing deal with Mad Head Games
- Serious Sam 4 teased ahead of E3 showcase
- Ballistix Launches Tactical Tracer RGB DDR4 Gaming Memory
- Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege Exceeds 30 Million Players Milestone
PCW Evaluation Team
Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
- ASUS ROG Zephyrus M review: Leaner and meaner
- Samsung Galaxy S9+ review: A predictably-exellent flagship uplifted by a standout camera
- Picture Perfect: OPPO prepare their boldest smartphone yet
- 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
- CCOffice Administrator - TelcoVIC
- CCBusiness Project ManagerNSW
- CCNetwork Engineer (Cisco)NSW
- CCHadoop DeveloperVIC
- FTProject Manager - Infrastructure ProjectsNSW
- CCHealth & Safety Project OfficerNSW
- CCApplications EngineerNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystQLD
- FTSenior .Net DeveloperOther
- TPWeb DeveloperQLD
- CCChange Analyst-TransformationNSW
- CCIT Cloud EngineerNSW
- TPSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Salesforce DeveloperOther
- TPPrincipal Solution Architect | CloudQLD
- CCProject AnalystVIC
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTService Delivery CoordinatorVIC
- FTSenior Consultant - DevOpsOther
- TPProject Manager - SEQQLD
- FTProject Manager/LeaderSA
- FTData ScientistOther
- FTSecurity ManagerOther
- FTIntegration Analyst - Axway/APIVIC
- FTApplication Support SpecialistOther