If you enjoy Guitar Hero (who doesn't?) then the thought of jamming to the best rock music from the 80s will no doubt get you smashing up your instruments in excitement. The 1980s was home to some of the best music ever, so combining this with the brilliant fun that is Guitar Hero was surely a recipe for rhythm-based nirvana. So why is Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s a slight disappointment?
This comes down to two major factors: song choice and price. Rocks the 80s includes 30 songs, which is a fair number fewer than previous games in the series, but had all the tracks been classics few people would have been moaning. The fact that only a handful approach classic status means that you'll be longing for more tracks. Without a huge number of tunes to come back to over and over again, the relatively short play-through time offers only a fraction of the longevity found in Guitar Hero 1 and 2. At £30 it's not nearly as good value as the previous titles in the series.
If the entire line-up had been as good as the likes of Asia's "Heat of the Moment" and Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran" we'd be in 80's music heaven, but the majority of tunes seem more of the calibre you'd expect as bonus tracks in the previous games. After a few sessions with the other games you and some mates would already have ten or more tunes that you'd want to go back to, and over time the majority of songs came into favour. Here, you'll be lucky to find five tracks that you genuinely want to go back to and play again straight away.
It's hard to shake the feeling that Rocks the 80s is a bit of a rush job. Presentation is pretty much as we've seen before, except with a fairly crude 80's makeover. The game also seems strangely simple, and hardcore players will breeze through without too many problems. I'm no expert but still found progress to be pretty simple, while the more experienced rockers in the office hardly broke a sweat.
Despite the moaning and criticism there is fun to be had from Rocks the 80s. It's not a bad game by any means, but it is a disappointing game that simply doesn't live up to its potential. Accept that you're going to long for better tracks and wish there were a good deal more, and you'll get a good few weeks of solid play and a few tracks to come back to time and time again. The track list for Guitar Hero 3 already looks great, so hopefully Rocks the 80s is just a slight blip on the series' run of excellence.