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!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Bravia 2017 TVs: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 3 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 4 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Hands-on: Middle Earth: Shadow of War gets more creative with Tolkien's universe
- Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire shows off old friends and a mysterious new world
- E3 2017 day 2 wrap-up: Destiny 2 on PC, Wolfenstein returns, and Ubisoft games galore
- Xbox One X vs PlayStation 4 Pro: The console wars level up with powerful new hardware
- E3 2017 day one wrap-up: Call of Duty WWII, Intel's wireless VR, and crushing crowds
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- Ring Video Doorbell review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth 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
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- FTSenior Development Expert – Adelaide Delivery CentreSA
- FTBusiness Systems AnalystOther
- FTNetwork Engineer - CISCOACT
- FTSystems EngineerOther
- FTAgile Technical Business Analyst, Digital, Financial ServicesNSW
- FT.NET Full Stack DeveloperOther
- FTC#.Net DeveloperVIC
- FTJunior-Mid Level Implementation CoordinatorQLD
- FTSenior Business Analyst, Investment FundsNSW
- FTService Centre ManagerQLD
- FTSenior Project ManagerVIC
- TP.Net DeveloperWA
- FT.NET DeveloperOther
- FTSales / Account ManagerOther
- FTSenior RF EngineerSA
- FTPlatform/Technology Manager | Security & GovernanceOther
- TPPrincipal Test Lead - SAPQLD
- TPSAP Training Officer - FinanceQLD
- FTSenior Business ConsultantOther
- FTBusiness Analyst - eCommerceOther
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- TPSenior Project ManagerQLD
- FTSenior Agile Test AnalystOther
- FTIT Support Specialist - Level 2Other