Guitar Hero 5 (360)
Guitar Hero continues its steady reign of musical simulation supremacy with yet another star-studded encore.
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The Guitar Hero franchise has been a forerunner in the virtual music genre since 2005, but there's no denying that the series has lost some of its luster over the years. Activision has over-saturated the store shelves with sequels and releases, leaving both fans and critics feeling a little jaded. We've seen this phenomenon before with proven properties like EA's Madden series, where a yearly release cycle and a dearth of notable improvements water down what was once an extraordinary gaming experience and it seemed as though Guitar Hero was headed down that lucrative yet unfulfilling road. Thankfully, NeverSoft has picked up the slack with the seminal series' latest installation, and proven that the beloved hard-rocking franchise still has quite a bit of life left in it.
Welcome To The Party, Pal
Guitar Hero 5's core gameplay is essentially the same as you remember it: same note highway, same frets, same chords, and same Star Power. The note charts have benefited from some interesting tweaks like an extended sustains which allow players to leap from chord to chord on a moment's notice a bit easier, but it's really more or less the same experience that you've rocked out to in the last four installments. That's not a bad thing, of course: Guitar Hero is still as easy to pick up and play as it's ever been, especially thanks to a few interesting new gameplay mechanics like Party Play.
I found Party Play to be a very simple yet cool improvement to the basic Guitar Hero formula. Selecting Party Play randomizes the game's setlist, and allows any player to jump in or out of a song at any time. It's very handy for when one of your band mates has to suddenly take off in the middle of a show, or if they show up late to the party. Players can switch difficulty setting as well as instruments on the fly, and now that one or more player can play the same instrument, you can even have four guitarists or four drummers, if you're so inclined. While Party Play may seem like a small addition, it's a fun option that works well for more spontaneous players.
GH Tunes from World Tour is also back in full effect, with a slightly streamlined interface for players to create their own jams in GH Mix. I really appreciated the wealth of new features, such as the ability to place your own Star Power segments in specific moments in the song, as well, as the possible length of creations (up to 10 minutes long!) The customizable loops, effects and backing tracks are also a very nice touch, and really adds to what is already a rich experience.