Activision Guitar Hero: World Tour
Guitar Hero: World Tour is the landmark franchise's first foray into group-based band territory.
- Fantastic track list, in-depth music creator, customisation features
- Lacklustre career mode, cluttered and confusing multiplayer layout
While never quite proving itself as the penultimate virtual rock experience, Guitar Hero: World Tour is a blast in its own right that definitely deserves a look from both veterans of the series and newcomers alike.
Price$ 329.95 (AUD)
Guitar Hero: World Tour is the landmark franchise's first foray into group-based band territory, offering up options to not only rock out on the titular guitar but also get your bass groove on, smash your way to stardom on drums, or wail glass-shattering vocals to an impressive selection of popular tunes. World Tour looks to set itself apart from a sea of similarly-minded games by infusing the tried and true band dynamic with the series' unique cartoonish charm, innovative new instrument models and an in-depth music creator which aims to allow users to record and share original tracks over the 'net.
To your own beat
The bulk of World Tour takes place in the game's Career mode, where players are offered a hefty selection of pre-made rockers ranging from series favourites Clive Winston to Judy Nails, or the choice to build their own avatars from the ground up. When it comes to customisation, I have to give it up to World Tour; from the width of the bridge on your rocker's nose to the images that decorate their multi-layered tattoos — everything's up for alteration. While the exact length of how far apart your rockers' eyes are isn't going to come into play while you're on stage shredding away to Billy Idol, it's still a fun feature that's definitely worth a mention.
Once you've chosen or created your characters, it's time to strap on your leather boots and hit the stage. This iteration of Guitar Hero differs from previous instalments in that it doesn't lock you into one venue at a time. Staying true to the game's "World Tour" aspect, players are given access to a wide selection of gigs from across the globe, each with unique playlists, venues, and special appearances by various musical celebrities such as Billy Corgan, Hayley Williams, Zakk Wylde, Sting, and even Ozzy Osborn himself. Guitar Hero III's "Boss Battles" are back, but have thankfully been toned down quite a bit; no longer are you throwing power-ups back and forth at your opponents ala Mario Kart, but you're instead given the opportunity to simply shred alongside performers such as Ted Nugent just to see if you can keep up with the Motor City Madman. While the opportunity to groove with celebs from country to country is interesting enough, it doesn't do much for the fact that World Tour's career mode is pretty cut and dry: play a gig, collect your money, move on the next venue — rinse, wash, repeat. While I believe there was much more that could've been done with World Tour's career mode, it still proves itself as a novel effort that's sure to satiate plenty of digital rockers.
That funky music
Opinions are sure to be split on World Tour's new instrument replicas — particularly the series' first attempt at a drum kit — but everyone at the GamePro office seemed pleasantly surprised with the title's surprisingly authentic set-up. The percussion kit features snare drums, two toms, an elevated ride and crash cymbals — all velocity sensitive to boot, so the harder you hit, the louder the beat. The game's guitars now feature a touch-sensitive "slider" in their necks, allowing the players to perform pitch shifts on sustained notes, or even strum on the slider for authentic tap-wah solos. While the slider isn't as responsive as the classic strummer, it's an innovative idea that, with some fine tuning, could prove itself an interesting aspect in future Guitar Hero instalments.
One of the biggest hooks of World Tour is undoubtedly its beefy Music Creator which comes in three parts: the Recording Studio, GHMix, and GHTunes. In the Recording Studio, up to four players can jam together, recording songs on the fly. While the initial recording is easy enough, it's a bit of a pain to navigate the Studio, from rewinding your song to pausing the entire experiment in order to change settings, tempos and styles. Thankfully, you're given much more in-depth access in GHMix, where you take your track-in-progress to the mixing boards, adding in or deleting separate notes, copying and pasting certain selections, setting loop areas, or if you so desire, step recording the entire song from the ground up. Once your track is complete you're given the option to publish it directly into GHTunes: an online community where you can share your creations with other rockers from across the globe and download projects from various amateur musicians. While I can see some amazing potential with the GHTunes application, from classic video game tunes recreated and shared to the inevitable flood of Rick Rolls, this is really where the community aspect of Guitar Hero: World Tour will have to come into play before we can call it a success or flop. While we can't really remark on how successful GHTunes is going to be in these early days it's obvious that if users give the creation tools the proper time and care they require, World Tour's Music Creator has the potential to become something truly special.
While Guitar Hero: World Tour may not play like the melt-your-face experience many gamers had hoped for, it still proves itself as a fantastically fun music simulation that remains a blast to play whether you get the entire band together for musical dominance or tackle your climb to rock stardom on solo.
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