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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Review
Posted on October 10, 2010 by


 

 



The story of Guitar Hero so far could be that of a rock band. They burst onto the scene out of nowhere a few years ago and their first few albums were praised by all. Guitar Hero then signed on with a new label and released some okay albums that still sold. They even got big enough to collaborate with some other big acts. Guitar Hero then entered an ‘experimental phase’ that some of their fans didn’t care for. In an attempt to return to their glory days, Guitar Hero has taken a hiatus to put more time into their big comeback album: Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

I have been a fan of Guitar Hero from the start, having played the first two games on the PS2 before moving on to the Xbox 360. Like everyone else, I got a bit burned out with the oversaturation, waiting for GH:Metallica to hit the bargain bin before picking it up. I thought GH5’s setlist sucked and bought it only because of the free copy of GH:Van Halen. The only Guitar Hero game to be released in 2010, Warriors of Rock was to be my first GH experience on the Wii.

One of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock’s main selling points is its “epic Quest Mode.” Frankly, I don’t care much for stories in games when they don’t serve much purpose, such as in fighting games and shooters. Those two genres are all about the action, the story is just a barebones plot that provides a context for all the shooting and fighting that happens in between cutscenes.

The game’s opening cinematic featured a heated battle between a masked hero and a giant mechanical monster. It certainly looked epic, but I was interested to see if the “quest” was actually going to be integrated into gameplay or just add a “choose your path” element to the usual career mode.

I started a new Quest, and was asked along the way if I wanted to add Facebook and Twitter updates. Uh, no. Gene Simmons of Kiss fame narrates the game and does an okay job at it. My “Choose your path” hunch was correct, as I initially had only two characters to pick from, but it wasn’t just for its own sake: each one had a different setlist to play and their own special ability which affected gameplay.
 

 



The first thing I noticed once I started playing was the DAMN LAG. I don’t know if this is par for the course for music games on the Wii, but it took some doing to make it playable because the calibration tools were pretty useless. Once I got the system calibrated well enough to play on Medium difficulty, I was on my way to fulfill my mission to save rock and roll.

Warriors of Rock’s core gameplay is identical to previous Guitar Hero games with the addition of the character’s special abilities in Quest mode. The special abilities range from very useful, such as the ability to accumulate Star Power faster or increase the score multiplier, to things that don’t serve much use in gameplay but will that will earn additional stars. To finish Quest Mode you must play through each character’s setlist and accumulate enough stars for them to turn into their “true form” to fight the Big Bad Boss. Blah blah blah. I found Quest mode to be just a step above the “here’s a setlist, now play it” career modes we’ve seen so far in music games.

I have to mention the special “2112” section you come across halfway through Quest Mode. There, you play through Rush’s 7-song 2112 suite in three stages that use imagery from the well-known album. Rush members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson narrate the story of 2112 in between songs. I thought it was a really neat way to experience one of rock and roll’s more epic compositions.

Moving on to the instruments, the new Warriors of Rock guitar has a fairly ‘clicky’ strum bar similar to those found in earlier Guitar Hero controllers, and does not have the ill-fated touch pad introduced in World Tour. The touch pad is supported by the game, but fans of it will need to stick to their old axes. The Wiimote is placed inside the guitar’s neck instead of its body this time around and one touch I like is the fact that the Wiimote in the guitar vibrates when enough Star Power has been earned to activate it. This especially comes in handy when using a character that accumulates Star Power all of the time. The guitar’s body can be removed and replaced with a new one, but I thought the default looked pretty cool myself. It should also be noted that the Warriors of Rock band bundle does comes NOT come with the new controller; instead it comes with the Guitar Hero World Tour controller.

The drum peripheral is an improvement over the World Tour one. The new bass pedal attaches to the drum kit itself and does not slide around like the old one did. The drums themselves have a good feel and ‘bounce’ to them when hit and are not too loud. The cymbals are a little bit smaller this time around, but that is something players can get adjusted to.

Singing has always been the dent in Guitar Hero’s armor, and that hasn’t changed. The indicator is very small and singers do not get immediate feedback as to how well they are doing as they sing. This has also been the case in the past, and I am disappointed that not much has been done to improve it. A ‘karaoke’ style of presenting lyrics as also been added to the game.
 

 



Exclusive to the Wii version of Warriors of Rock are its Nintendo DS “Roadie” features. A DS can be used as a setlist manager in Party Play mode, which allows the setlist to be changed while others are playing the game. More interesting are Roadie Quickplay+ and Roadie Battles. In these modes, DS players partner up with an instrument player and as the song is played, the ‘roadie’ plays mini-games that assist their partner in Quickplay+. In Roadie Battles, roadies also unleash attacks on opponents. As the roadie plays the DS, imps fly around the screen that must be tapped to get rid of them. If enough accumulate they will mess up the instrument player in some way. This is a fun little addition and a neat way for less-experienced or younger players to get into the game.

The graphics in Guitar Hero look just a notch below what I have been accustomed to on the other next-gen systems, but that doesn’t make them bad. In terms of style, I actually preferred the cartoonier look of the earlier games, and so I’m not bothered too much by what the Wii’s modest hardware puts on the screen. While the crowd could have used a little more work, the venues look good, and the interface and game elements look good. The motion of the band members gets a little stiff at times, particularly when performing Bohemian Rhapsody. It never gets as bad as the Robo-Drummer from GH:World Tour, though.

I enjoyed playing through the setlist, there weren’t too many moments where I wanted to exit in the middle of a song to pick a better one. Granted, that is a matter of personal taste, so potential buyers should check and see if there are enough good songs to justify the purchase. Even then, I am beginning to wonder if the well is starting to run dry for rock n’ roll-based music games.

Guitar Hero is as fun as it has always been. Warriors of Rock feels ‘arcadey’ at times: the number of multipliers, scores and stars can get ridiculously high. Playing alongside DS-wielding “Roadies” is also fun. The supposedly improved online component tries to work around Nintendo’s convoluted ‘friend code’ system but only marginally succeeds. Existing Wii friends can be automatically added to your ‘musicians’ list for online play but you can only add people that you have already randomly played with, but can’t add them manually or something…argh!

While Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock isn’t the big “comeback album” it wants to be, it is a small step in the right direction. The new Quest Mode makes the usual slog through the setlist a little more interesting, and the DS modes let even more players join in on the fun. Virtual rockers looking for something new will be disappointed, but those who have not yet grown tired of the concept will have a fun time with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.
 

 

 

 

- Eduardo

Send your comments to the author eduardo@original-gamer.com

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