Guitar Hero 5 - Xbox 360
Tom Chick, Crispy Gamer
Guitar Hero 5 Video Game Review
What's Hot: Improved gameplay across the board
What's Not: Strange song-list choices; Fumbled backward compatibility
Crispy Gamer Says: Try
If you have multiple music games, you probably have "Rock Band" situated closest to your television. "Guitar Hero World Tour" is probably under a pile of other games, with the instruments shut in a closet somewhere. In terms of copies sold, "Guitar Hero" may have come out ahead, based on name recognition. But among aficionados, "Rock Band" is the game of choice. Now "Guitar Hero 5" changes that, bringing the franchise out of the closet. It might not knock "Rock Band" out of its place in the living room, but it's earned a place alongside it.
ACTIVISION MAKES YOU A MIX TAPE
In the ongoing war among music games, complaints about song lists aren't what they used to be. Song lists used to be ultimate weapons. Now they're just opening salvos. This feeling is reinforced by "Guitar Hero 5," which seems to be saving the big guns for later. Its scattershot assortment of songs has lots of variety, but there's something superficial about it. You can all but see
The "Guitar Hero 5" song list has its share of oddities -- what song list doesn't? -- but it's got a broad, if shallow, appeal. Only two bands have more than one song. There are plenty of classics and enough alt-rock and metal to tide most people over. You could even argue that
Then there's the issue of third-party music. The announced Rock Band Network is the equivalent of a full set of developers' tools for people who want to monetize their own music. Contrast this to the chintzy GH Tunes music studio that started with "Guitar Hero World Tour" and is supposedly upgraded in "Guitar Hero 5." I still have no idea how to use it and no interest in trying. And given the way copyrighted material isn't allowed, I have no interest in downloading any of the player-made tunes. In fact, browsing a list of the hottest uploads, there was only one thing that caught my eye: the Keyboard Cat tune. How appropriate.
AFTER THE TOUR
But enough about the wars. How goes the franchise? How does "Guitar Hero 5" compare to "Guitar Hero World Tour"? In terms of hardware, I was only able to see the updated guitar for the Xbox 360. It's got a new faceplate and a rubberized Xbox button. The touchpad at the base of the fret is mostly the same, but there are little colored indicators along the top of the fret in case, heaven forbid, you need to actually look down at the guitar to position your fingers. More helpful are tiny ridges on the red and yellow positions of the tap pad. It still has no gameplay implications, but it offers extra busywork for showboaters. And in the game, the weird purple rope is gone. I can't say I'll miss it, since it was putting undue pressure on me to figure out the tap pad. Now the notes just look a little different, so I can pretend they're like any other notes.
In terms of the gameplay, "Guitar Hero 5" is the "Guitar Hero" we should have had a year ago. This is partly because the series has advanced, but also because it's backpedaled on some of the choices made in "World Tour." The greatest change is what a wonderful party game this has become.
The gameplay throughout Career mode is a simple matter of accumulating stars. You mostly do this by playing well at any difficulty level. However, accomplishing a bonus goal in each song can earn you additional stars. This nod to power gamers is almost like a quest system, or missions from "Call of Duty," or built-in Achievements. Special goals include things like accumulating a certain amount of time in
The weird socialist
By the way, it seems that
Similarly, there's a new approach to failure. In "World Tour," the rest of the band could keep a terrible player afloat. He wouldn't fail until he dragged the entire band down. Now he gets a time-out while the band builds up enough crowd approval to bring him back. You can extend to him a
Also new is the display of scores when you play as a band. Now you can get the recognition you deserve for playing at harder difficulty levels, where you might get a lower percentage than other players. A simple flip of the page will reveal the true picture. Yeah, sure the bassist on easy got a 94 percent. But when he sees how few points he earned while you were guitaring on Hard and only got an 84 percent, he won't be quite so full of himself. Oops, wait, did my competitive streak just show?
The coming months will be crucial for "Guitar Hero 5." Does
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
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Video Games: Guitar Hero 5 - Xbox 360
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