Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Preview for Xbox 360

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7Out of 10
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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock screenshot
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock screenshot

The Guitar Hero franchise has been growing exponentially since the mid-Noughties. The developers have been so relentless about it that even when it had looked like Hero had been completely eclipsed by Rock Band in ’07, they still rolled another four titles off the production line. Even when it was looking like Hero was starting to peel ideas straight out from Rock Band by introducing multiple instruments, the franchise kept chugging along like a happily aimless locomotive. Even in Guitar Hero 5, when they had largely abandoned their Ye Olde Hard Rock roots to appeal to the mass of casual gamers that still don’t quite get Lemmy, they didn’t lay down the plastic axe.

The franchise felt like it had been losing direction, slowly but surely. Throughout 2009 it had spent most of its time being washed out with weak sales until Activision finally decided to re-jig the internal development teams, dissolving RedOctane and putting a hold on Neversoft’s Guitar Hero division until the completion of Warriors of Rock.

Warriors of Rock is an attempt to pull on the reigns a bit and bring the series back around to what made Guitar Hero work in the first place. What had worked was evident in the success of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. It was a guitar-centric, heavy rock-based Oktoberfest. Guitar Hero was built originally as a game to whet the palates of gamers looking for material that was as weighted in irony as it was in capital-A awesome music. In homage to the series’ origins, Warriors of Rock turns its focus back to hardcore guitar music.

The setlist ranges from Alice Cooper to Stevie Vai, The Ramones to ZZ Top. It heads over to slightly more modern material with Them Crooked Vultures and The White Stripes. You’ll ask yourself, how many classic rock songs are even left after six of these games? The answer is about 90, although most of the featured bands have already been part of the series’ roster for years. The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Deep Purple are all there again. You also get a now-expected re-designed controller, whose electronic innards have been pushed down to the bottom of the guitar unit, allowing you to modify the actual look of the body.

For the game itself the stand-out feature is an entirely new story-driven Quest Mode, narrated by KISS front-man Gene Simmons. The plot has a whiff of Brutal Legend to it, giving you eight new characters, guided by a Demi-God of Rock, and having you trek your way from CBGBs in New York to a molten lava pit to battle The Beast and save Rock music. This culminates in a secondary story section based very loosely on Rush’s 2112, a seven-part Rock suite that tells a dystopian story set in the year 2112. You essentially find the Demi-god’s guitar and use it to defeat the Beast. That section gets a narration by famed Rush members Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, based on portions of the album’s liner notes.

The bulk of Quest Mode involves playing your way through eight sets to recruit a gang of rockers, with new characters Austin Tejas and Echo Tesla joining series veterans Johnny Napalm , Judy Nails, and Lars Umlaut. Each of the characters will transform and equip power-ups by playing through their setlist. You can unlock ridiculous powers in-game, which exist purely to underline the ironic awesomeness of the series. You might enable a power-up that gives you additional star power once you hit ten consecutive notes, or you might triple the multiplier when you activate Star Power. Johnny Napalm can get you a 2x multiplier at all times throughout a song, while Axel Steel can resurrect you should you screw up and fail.

While the game essentially peddles backwards to its origins from half a decade ago, this feels like the first creative step the franchise has taken in a very long time. Forget the new controller or a slightly polished UI - the narrative is what makes the game. It essentially mimics the hard rock enthusiasm that has existed for decades, regurgitating the lore of demons and heavy metal that has been around since Robert Johnson sold his soul. By accepting that tradition as its own, the franchise will continue to feel like it has some identity amongst the bulk of other rhythm games.

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is due for release on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii later this year.

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26 Comments

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Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

The Ion works as a "real" (electronic) drum kit as well, so if you plug it into a midi interface you can play them like proper drums! You'll probably struggle to get drums as cheap as a tenner in Australia, but I'm sure they'll be wanting to clear stock as well so maybe have a look around.
Posted 10:47 on 03 August 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod@ guyderman

Thanks for the info dude. I have been reading reviews and whatnot as much as I can to suss it all out so I'm aware of the issues you mentioned.

I didn't know that Rockband drums were compatible with GH. That's good news. I now have another option without buying some useless generic third party like sh*te. Thanks for the heads up Woffls, I'm about to havea look at the sites you have mentioned.

Interesting product I came across while doing my little bit of research:

DrumRockerPro

It's the Ion Drum Rocker Pro and looks very nice. More kit like than either RB or GH peripheral however it would cost a fortune to ship from the US which is the only country I have found that distributes the product. A bit pricy too at about 800 (?) Aussie dollars. Nice though eh?
Posted 10:45 on 03 August 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

And official EA Rock Band drum kits are like a tenner now as well. I forget where from, maybe Amazon or Play?
Posted 09:25 on 03 August 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ clangod

I don't know if it helps at all Clangod but the Rockband drum kit is a lot sturdier, with a better pedal and works absolutley fine on the GH games - The shift from 5 lanes to 4 lanes doesn't make a blind bit of difference to what you play as the 'notes' just shift across. (I believe the only drawback it may have at the moment is that you can't use a double pedal on it - but I've not needed one yet in 2 years of playing these games). I don't know if it's the same over in Australia, (you are in Australia aren't you?), but you can pick up RB drum kits for next to nothing over here. Just thought it may help widen your search and give you more options. :)

If you can get a drum kit I really recommend it - it's my fave instrument on the games by far!!!
Posted 09:04 on 03 August 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

It's pretty much Guitar Hero with smaller hammer on/pull off timing windows and a film grain effect to hide the fact it only looks as good as Guitar Hero anyway. But I've always said that if you're looking at the stage then you're doing it wrong :D

My god did they choose the worst possible Atreyu song for this game... I mean seriously... I've been listening to them for 2 days and there's at least a dozen better songs on like two of their albums. grrr.
Posted 22:05 on 02 August 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

I've taken a recent shine towards the GH series which I haven't done for some time since buying and playing GHIII - Legends of Rock. I recently bought DJ Hero as well which is a big diversion in taste for me however I'm glad I did. It's just so addictive and lots of fun with a handfull of people.

Any day now GH Metallica will arrive at my door and I'll be able to delve into something a bit more suited to my tastes. I've been looking at Band Hero options in order to score a drum peripheral however they're hard to find separate from the bundle. I have no interest in the Band Hero game or the microphones so that's a big inconvenience for me.

I have seen the GH5 tracklist and although as ecclectic as some complain for, it's got some killer tracks so I wouldn't mind eventually picking this up cheap as well.

Warriors of Rock definitely gets a look in. Meanwhile I haven't played a Rockband game, ever...
Posted 21:23 on 02 August 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

Wiki says:
Quote:
All previous downloadable content that was playable in Guitar Hero 5 or Band Hero will be compatible with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, allowing for more than 300 tracks to be available to players at launch

not 100% clear but I read it as 'If it was DLC that was playable in GH5 then you can still play it on this'. I believe that all DLC since and including GH:WT is playable in GH5 so that should all be playable too as should be the (few tracks that you were allowed to) import from the other titles such as Hits.
Posted 16:28 on 02 August 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

Aye that's what I want to know as well. I'm quite ashamed to admit that I only really care because there's an achievement for building your library >_< unfortunately I'll only have GH:Metallica to import :D Which is a shame because some of the GH3 DLC I have is awesome.
Posted 15:48 on 02 August 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

Sounds like it should be good fun - a step back is exactly what GH required as like Clockpunk pointed out it has always been the more 'Fun' orientated and 'Arcadey' of the two franchises - I'm really looking forward to getting this.

Just a quick question out of interest - does anyone know how the DLC will stand with thsi title - will all GH:WT and GH5 DLC work with this one?
Posted 15:08 on 02 August 2010
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Most people are idiots, and don't want to acknowledge that although Rock Band is striving for a realistic experience, Guitar Hero is more about arcadey fun.

Nice preview, Emily. Glad to see you don't fall victim to the usual 'Harmonix has won, so die GH' mentality most have.
Posted 14:38 on 02 August 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

I'm getting slowly more interested in this game because they've changed direction so much. I was expecting just another ambiguous collection of songs that lots of people like and have guitars in somewhere, but now that the game knows what it wants to be I'm actually interested again. Sure, a lot of people will still not care about Guitar Hero because they hate Activision and are too cool to listen to such a clich├ęd musical genre (read: gathering of genres), but you can't please everyone.

This happens to be exactly what I've wanted from Guitar Hero in some time, but I acknowledge that I'm somewhat in the minority. I play on Expert with no exceptions, and I enjoy the brutally difficult songs because of the challenge and satisfaction of noticeable improvement. I've said for years that these games haven't been fun on Guitar since GH3 thanks to Rock Band introducing multiple instruments and shifting the focus, and this change will be better for everyone because it should be pretty obvious to most people which game they want.

Except most of the enthusiast press will see this as "Harmonix wins again! Praise the west coast idols of grunge, new wave and 90's alternative!".
Posted 14:12 on 02 August 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 24/09/2010
Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Music
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 1,899
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