When the name “Guitar Hero” is dropped, it’s almost rare to hear praise and admiration nowadays – in Yamster’s case, it’s nothing but screams and items being flung across the room. For a while it seemed like the market for music video games had been bled dry, and Activision did most of the cutting. That’s why E3 2010 was a time for companies like Activision to bring back some of their “A game,” to try to rekindle that desire of picking up a plastic guitar and button smashing until our fingers hurt.
For the two main hitters, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock attempts to grab the audience’s attention with the use of story-telling objectives, while Rockband 3 introduced a new instrument to the simulated band experience. I’m a fan of both franchises, but lately I’ve been leaning towards Rockband as my darling because I was sure Guitar Hero was going to break my heart again.
Then I got some hands on time with the game… so much for judging a game by its publisher. I’ll be standing outside on Activision’s lawn with a boom box sometime next week to apologize.
The general story has been explained time and time again; the gist is that you’re helping the demigod of Rock defeat the Beast after his legendary guitar, the source of his power, is locked away. In order to aid in this mission, you must first transform your character (most of which are from previous Guitar Hero games) into his or her alter ego.
In the demo, a new character named Echo Tesla is introduced to demonstrate her makeover from rockstar to warrior goddess, and I have to admit it all looks pretty badass. By removing the scoring system in quest mode, you must achieve a certain amount of stars per completed song to fully transform (and when your character changes, so does the entire band). Becoming a warrior of Rock gives you special powers which depend on the character you’re using. Johnny Napalm, for example, will always have a 2x multiplier minimum and earn 2 extra stars as long as you stay over 3x multiplier.
The final battle in quest mode is a set of 3 different tracks, one of which was specifically made for the game by Megadeath’s own Dave Mustaine called “Sudden Death.” In regards to the general setlist, the developers finally remembered what made them the big bucks. Although you can still play as a band in Guitar Hero 6 Warriors of Rock, the game will focus more on “true rock songs” with heavy guitar gameplay. Insert nod of approval.
Guitar Hero 5’s party play has made its way over to this new title, along with competitive mode and Quickplay +. Sorting has become easier by star rankings and playlists. Also, the game will make DLC recommendations based on your playing history.
A new feature that has been implemented is challenges for each song to complete for their own online leaderboards. There are over 30 types of challenges overall, so every song has a different mix of 13. Powers unlocked in quest mode can help complete these challenges by tweaking them around to compliment your playing style. If you tend to miss many notes, there’s an app for that!
Although it all looks cool, I was disappointed with the new guitar. It has a neat design, but it feels more plastic-like and was just uncomfortable. Although I was pressing down on the buttons harder than I usually do compared to the guitar I have at home, it was still not registering all of my clicks. I wanted to smash it.
Overall, don’t immediately disregard this title when it hits stores this fall. It may surprise you, as much as the game and the Activision event surprised me. I promise you I’m not bias at all… Man, Eminem looked so great at the end of that concert…