Guitar Hero World Tour: Rock!
The Guitar Hero/Rock Band story is a long, convoluted one, but the long and short of it is that the folks who actually created the Guitar Hero franchise are now behind Rock Band, and Guitar Hero has been handed off to the people responsible for the Tony Hawk franchise. So, while the Guitar Hero name has been around for quite a while, the people now making it are relatively new to the group scene. This year, Activision’s musical Simon Says is stepping up for the full band treatment, and while it’s an admirable first effort, it’s obviously a first effort.
There are 86 songs by the original artists in World Tour, and unfortunately, no option to import more from prior games. When compared to the total number of tracks available for Rock Band 2, it falls way short. Considering the anemic download support, we’re still not sold that Activision can keep up with the competition. The selections themselves are solid, if a little dull. There’s a little too much music for people in their ‘40s for our liking, not enough indie stuff, and like Rock Band, there still aren’t enough songs that girls like to sing. Music is certainly based upon tastes, so judge for yourself accordingly.
You begin by creating a persona with a full-fledged character generator. No pre-fabs here. The options are the best in the genre, with the ability to place and orient each element of the human face. Instrument customization is also impressive as you can select every last piece of hardware that goes into building each one.
As you might imagine, there are some drastic changes to the structure of the game now that it’s about more than just guitars. Even though Activision has had a chance to watch the mistakes that were made with Rock Band, it hasn’t managed to capitalize on much of it. Some issues the first Rock Band had are present here.
In Guitar Hero World Tour you have to play through the band career to unlock songs for everyone to play. Strumming through the individual instrument careers only unlock songs for those specific instruments. So if friends come over, you’re going to have to look for a code to unlock all the songs. It’s also a little too archaic getting everyone ready to go, which can be a problem when casual players spill out to your place for a night cap.
The career mode itself is a little different from what you’re used to with Guitar Hero. Songs are grouped into gigs, so you’ll play sets of songs, and if you perform well enough, you’ll have a random encore to play. Once you complete a gig, several others are unlocked, giving you much more flexibility in how you progress. Duels against famous artists have returned, though it’s a standard tug of war setup as the powerups have been removed. It’s hard to become too invested in the career mode since it’s ultimately just playing through the entire track list in the order of your choosing. There’s no extraneous element to it at all.
Aside from the career, you also have head-to-head duels, quickplay, and a suite of online options. Here you can snag extra players to fill out your band or go head-to-head with other virtual groups. It’s not a bad start, and the tipping point is the music studio.
Some people like to say that electronic artists don’t have any talent, but after they tangle with the music studio in World Tour, they’ll have a new appreciation. It’s quite possibly the most complicated user-creation app ever included in a console game. Just working through all the tutorials can take over an hour, and you better pay attention. The problem is that no matter how good you get at it, the sound quality will be subpar. You can also not add vocals to any songs you create, though we have no rational idea why. We’re sure someone will create some songs worth playing, it’s just probably not going to be us.