Also available on: Xbox 360, Wii, DS
Genre: Rhythm action
It seems like an eternity since a triple-A rhythm action game was released. The reality is that it was only this time last year that Guitar Hero 5 and The Beatles: Rock Band hit the shelves, plus there was Green Day and Van Halen editions to keep fans ticking over in 2010 - as well as weekly DLC! Such was the frequency with which our plastic instruments were taking a pounding that four games within a year feels like a drought. However, they say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it's true that playing Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock was an exciting prospect after a few months without a toy guitar in sight.
In Warriors Of Rock players can sing, play drums or strum the guitar -both bass and lead - individually or in a band. In order to successfully perform a song, players must hit the coloured notes as they scroll down to the bottom of the screen or match the pitch and length of lyrics if choosing to sing. Hitting certain notes builds up star power - which is essentially a score multiplier - which can be activated by tilting the guitar or by pressing a button.
If all of that sounds familiar, it's because at its core, Warriors Of Rock is the same old GH game that’s been around for the past five or so years - with the added band play that debuted in World Tour. This year's release features no new instruments à la Rock Band 3 or chart-topping pop songs designed to appeal to the masses (Band Hero). Warriors Of Rock is just balls out rock music, giving it the feel of a Guitar Hero game that has gone back to basics.
That's not to say that Neversoft haven't been busy trying to improve the game, however, and the brand new career mode (or Quest mode), manages to breathe new life into the title thanks to its excellent presentation, entertaining storyline and logical tier system. Instead of guiding one character through tier after tier of gradually more difficult songs and playing bigger and better arenas as you do, Warriors Of Rock puts players in the shoes of all of the game's characters in an attempt to unlock their true form and pit their powers against an evil beast and save the Demigod of Rock.
The storyline - which is masterfully narrated by Gene Simmons of Kiss fame - may sound ridiculous, and it is, but it's also enormous fun and does a really good job of conveying the game's grand and epic tone. Each character has their own musical style, so rocking out as the mohawk sporting Johnny Napalm will give players access to a number of punk songs by the likes of The Ramones and The Buzzcocks, while the big, blue jean wearing, heavy metal mullet man Axel Steel thrashes along to '80s rock and metal tunes such as 'Indians' by Anthrax and 'Unskinny Bop' by Poison. In order to unlock each character's true form and special powers, players must earn a certain number of stars in each tier, which results in a physical transformation and extra abilities such as protecting players' note streaks as well as extending and increasing multipliers.
The highlight of the Quest mode, without doubt, comes at the midway point when the first four characters combine their powers to unlock the legendary guitar. The whole tier involves playing all seven parts of Rush's conceptual album '2112'. The futuristic sci-fi theme of the album, which has a full narrative of its own complete with numerous fantasy locations and cosmic imagery, is an absolute pleasure to play and fits in perfectly with the storyline of the game.
Not all of the tunes and tiers are as enjoyable as the '2112' legendary guitar stage though. Warriors Of Rock's musical palette is much more limited than previous years due to a lack of anything other than rock music. Even for rock fans, with the tiers split into sub-genres, there may be whole stages that aren't particularly appealing to play through. Playing numerous death metal songs in Lars Umlaut's tier won't necessarily appeal to hardened punks, while classic rock fans who enjoy strumming along to the likes of Aerosmith's 'Crying' or 'Burning For You' by Blue Oyster Cult, may not enjoy emo numbers such as 'Dance Dance' by Fall Out Boy or 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)' by My Chemical Romance (as featured on Pandora's stage).
Another problem with the soundtrack is that there are fewer instantly recognisable tunes to choose from compared to past titles. This is certainly a problem that stems from having so many GH games on the market. On the plus side, much in the same way that the Metallica and Van Halen editions offered a far greater challenge, Warriors Of Rock's 93 tracks are delightfully difficult to master and while they may not always be the best known offerings from the featured bands, the developers have generally picked the ones that are the most fun to play.
Other than the new Quest mode and the rigid and challenging setlist, there isn't much else to say about Warriors Of Rock. The multiplayer game modes that made their debut in Guitar Hero 5 all return and the game continues to actively encourage players to have fun by dropping in and out of songs playing whatever instrument takes their fancy. Speaking of instruments, the new guitar released for the game is a nice addition. It feels weightier than previous guitars thanks to the electronics and batteries all being built into the fretboard. Unlike the classic guitar designs used for previous peripherals, the new jagged and pointy guitar has more of a heavy metal feel to it, with the added bonus that the body of the guitar slides off and can be replaced by new models, which is a nice touch provided the replacements aren't too expensive.
Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock isn't exactly a step forward for the franchise, despite containing an excellent new career mode. The tracklist won't appeal to everybody and even fans of rock music might not be impressed by the lack of recognisable tunes on offer. With the rhythm action genre on the decline, Warriors Of Rock seems like a game desperate to appeal to everybody from a specific demographic. If loud, heavy music is your thing and you enjoy a challenge, then Warriors Of Rock is one of the better Guitar Hero games around. If you don't, then it would be better to check out something like Band Hero or Guitar Hero 5.
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