Let’s face it, over the last few installments the Guitar Hero formula has become a little stale. With this year’s only Guitar Hero installment, Warriors of Rock, Neversoft hoped to change that by including a “quest” mode and some other tweaks. Were they successful? Partially, they were. The quest mode does add a slight twist to the same ol’ Guitar Hero gameplay, and the rock-heavy track listing helps take the game back to what made Guitar Hero great.
You know the basics of how Guitar Hero plays, so I don’t have to go over that again for you. So let’s pick up right at the quest mode. At its core, this is still the same old GH setlist-style gameplay. Only this time it’s wrapped up in a Brutal Legend-style storyline narrated by Gene Simmons. You still need to play through songs to gain stars until you reach enough to move on to a final song before going to the next venue. Only here they aren’t venues they’re characters and you’re gaining stars to have them transform into a warrior form.
Another change is that each character has a special ability that’s applied to the game as you’re playing (such as bonuses to star power generation, combo bonuses, etc.) and their warrior form has a more powerful version of this special ability. Now, the old Guitar Hero characters are used here as Activision has decided to not use famous musicians. After the whole chaos around the Kurt Cobain and No Doubt issues this is understandable, but one can’t help but wish they used people like James Hetfield who’s Cowardly Lion warrior form could’ve ruled.
As you play through the quest you unlock more songs from the track list, which is one of the huge strengths of Warriors of Rock and where it really is better than Guitar Hero 5. Everyone’s musical tastes are different, but I am among those who agree that the diverse selection of music Guitar Hero 5 went for really went against what Guitar Hero was all about. Sure it can be seen as a away to compete with Rock Band, but to me and most others Guitar Hero has always been about rock and songs that are fun to play. Epic guitar solos, epic drums, and big sound has always been what makes Guitar Hero fun. Trying to turn the game into a clone of Rock Band really hurt the franchise in my opinion, and Warriors of Rock feels more like a real effort to put Guitar Hero back to rock.
You have everything from classic rock, punk, 80s hair bands, 90s grunge, metal, hard rock, alternative; you name it and you can probably find something you like on the disc. And yes, there is another Dragonforce track included so you can carpal tunnel yourself all over again. You can also import most of the songs from Guitar Hero: Metallica as those tracks completely fit with what they were doing in Warriors of Rock. Also about midway through the quest mode you’ll play through Rush’s 2112 in its entirety (with Rush narrating the quest at that time) and once you do the album is unlocked for you.
Naturally there’s plenty of DLC as well so you can fill in your gaps with your own tastes. As part of that DLC is Soundgarden’s new greatest hit CD, which the game actually includes as a physical disc in the first batch of copies. Soundgarden’s new single Black Rain is included on disc as part of the track list, and on the Xbox 360 you unlock a Soundgarden Avatar T-Shirt if you play the song during the quest mode.
While the quest mode has added something “new” to Guitar Hero, I really like the change to quickplay. Instead of just selecting tracks to play for fun, there’s an experience system somewhat like what you’d find in Call of Duty. As you gain stars you rank up and as you do it unlocks new bonuses such as customization options, guitars, etc. As you’d expect you can create your own rocker and unlock new guitars (including Arthas’ sword Frostmourne from World of Warcraft), and on the Xbox 360 you can use your Avatar. This was fun as while I was playing my Avatar was still decked out in Halo: Reach armor, which looked pretty awesome.
In the end, Warriors of Rock is still Guitar Hero. If you’re burnt out on the franchise there isn’t too much here to change your mind. Same thing can be said if you’re one of those die-hard Rock Band fans who simply won’t touch any other music game out of blind loyalty. However if you’re a music game fan who plays all that’s out there, you’ll find Warriors of Rock to be one of the stronger recent entries into the Guitar Hero franchise. It’s better than World Tour and Guitar Hero 5, and for that it’s enough to give it a try.
- Vastly superior track selection to recent Guitar Hero games.
- Experience system gives you a reason to play quickplay.
- Quest mode adds something new to the old Guitar Hero formula. Gene Simmons and Rush are added bonuses.
- It still is Guitar Hero and doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel.
- Music tastes can be extremely subjective, so if you don’t like rock there isn’t much here for you. Sorry Justin Bieber fans.
Final Score: 3 (out of 5)