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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360
Genre: Rhythm
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft
Release Date: Sept. 19, 2010 (US), Sept. 24, 2010 (EU)

About Brad Hilderbrand

I've been covering the various facets of gaming for the past five years and have been permanently indentured to WorthPlaying since I borrowed $20K from Rainier to pay off the Russian mob. When I'm not furiously writing reviews, I enjoy RPGs, rhythm games and casual titles that no one else on staff is willing to play. I'm also a staunch supporter of the PS3.


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PS3/X360 Review - 'Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock'

by Brad Hilderbrand on Oct. 14, 2010 @ 1:22 a.m. PDT

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock will once again redefine music gaming with an all-new, story-driven Quest Mode, a completely redesigned rock-inspired guitar controller, the biggest on-disc selection of rock music ever in a Guitar Hero game and Quickplay+, which invites challenge-starved fanatics to test their rock skills.

For the past several years, Guitar Hero and Rock Band have been practically interchangeable entities. When one series added drums, so did the other; when one enabled party play, the competitor came out with a similar feature. Ultimately, the two franchises have felt practically identical, but that's all changing. While Rock Band is opting to take a more realistic approach in the hopes of teaching people how to play a real instrument, Guitar Hero has decided to truly embrace the fantasy and boost the mythos of the living room rock legend to a whole new plane. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock achieves that goal nicely, delivering an entertaining and rewarding experience for wannabe shredders everywhere.

The first thing you'll notice about Warriors of Rock is that it dumps the traditional career path of struggling band trying to make it big in favor of a more epic tale. The game's Quest mode tells of the battle between the Demigod of Rock and the Beast, with the latter eventually gaining the upper hand and trapping the former in stone. Each of the game's characters must then attain their true form to help free the Demigod of Rock and slay the Beast once and for all. It's overwrought, melodramatic and ultimately kind of dumb, but it can also be mildly entertaining if you're willing to give into the absurdity of it all.

The quest sets the stage for the game's new character-specific power-ups, each meant to boost scores and allow players to earn more stars. Abilities, such as shields that protect note streaks from a missed strum or a boost to star power for each 10-note streak, give players a little extra incentive to do well. Matters get really crazy when all eight characters merge their top-level powers and the star count immediately goes into overdrive. Songs that originally awarded five stars now drop 40, giving players a sense of being truly powerful.

Detractors will say that the power-ups are a cheap gimmick and that they don't really change the focus of the game. After all, you've always been trying to hit all the notes and earn all the stars, so what's changed? What's changed is the fact that songs are now more fun thanks to the added powers. Ankhs revive you if you fail, thus removing the fear of playing harder songs on higher difficulties; watching the stars come fast and furious is a welcome feeling for reward-hungry players. The concept of the power-ups may not be right for purists, but for those who are looking to have fun, they add a lot to the game.

Those with a taste for more traditional Guitar Hero fare can jump back into the series' stellar party play mode or tackle one of the myriad challenges in Quickplay+. This is where all the instrument-specific challenges reside and will likely suck up most of your time outside of Quest mode. The amount and diversity of the challenges provide tons of replayability, and completionists can easily lose themselves for days trying to conquer every task set before them.

As for the set list itself, the songs are mostly solid with some major hits and a couple of big-time misses. Each character's chapter basically follows a musical genre, so Johnny Napalm's set is comprised of punk tracks from the likes of The Offspring and The Ramones, while Lars gets speed metal in the form of Rammstein and Dethklok. Of course, the biggest get is Rush's "2112," which gets an entire set to itself as players run through the album in its entirety. The occasion is even narrated by the members of the band as they basically tell the record's story between tracks. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished, so as penance for including such epic tracks, the game also features Nickelback's "How You Remind Me," which we can all agree should not only never be found in a game, but is also unfit for human ears in any capacity. All in all, the song choice is great, with a special emphasis on guitar solos and rocking note highways.

One notable issue with the set list is the fact that most of it is unavailable in other modes until you unlock it in Quest mode. This is a major step back for the game and the genre as a whole, and it's one that Neversoft and Activision really should have had the sense to avoid. While solo players or those first diving into Quest mode likely won't even notice, folks who use Warriors of Rock as a party game will be in for a rude awakening the first time they try to set up an epic night of shredding and musical debauchery.

The game's new character models are a bit more of a mixed bag, as the "transformed" version of each rocker is either a triumph in form and design or an abomination that should have never made it off the drawing board. For instance, newcomer Austin Tejas morphs into an eerie yet awesome take on the Headless Horseman, and Echo Tesla becomes a sort of mechanized Bride of Frankenstein. On the other end of the spectrum, Judy Nails looks like a rejected character from Tim Burton's sketchpad, while Lars' boar form says less about his "uninhibited nature" than it does his rotund physique. While the game looks great and everything is nicely detailed, some of the choices in art direction really could have been better.

A lot of folks have been knocking Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, and that's because they're going in with completely wrong expectations. This game isn't trying to reinvent the genre, but rather reinvigorate it with some new gameplay wrinkles that can make the experience fun again without fundamentally reworking the way we play the game. If you're looking for the next great leap forward, then sit tight and wait for Rock Band 3 with its new keyboard peripheral and Pro mode. However, if you're looking for a fun new twist on familiar mechanics, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with Warriors of Rock — if you can get past the fact that you have to play Nickelback.

Score: 8.5/10

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