Guitar Hero World Tour is a blast, but has its share of flaws

Guitar Hero World Tour came out on Sunday, but yesterday was the day that most people go their first bit of action with Activision’s music rhythm game and it seems that impressions were quite mixed. While most people were very happy with the instruments (when they worked), and most people were fired up over the nice track list, it seems that the multiplayer modes and the somewhat bare bones solo tour are the biggest points of contention. I spent a few hours with the game last night, so let me give my own impressions. And since I’m such a positive person, I’ll start with the good.

The Good

  • The Guitar Hero instruments are quite incredible. The heftiness of the guitar and drum set put the Rock Band accessories to shame. The touch pad on the guitar is a little gimmicky, but it’s fun to play with and experienced guitarists will have fun tapping and sliding through sections of the game that allow it. The more sturdy build and better drum head design makes the drum set feel more like a real drum kit and less of a plastic toy.
  • The set list on the disc is really good and varied enough that people who have a hard time justifying DLC costs will be satisfied with what they get right out of the box for quite some time. There are some nice surprises in there, like Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, that have potential to become surprise favorites.
  • The drums work quite well with Rock Band, as long as you’re on the 360 (more on that later).
  • All the Nintendo/classic game theme songs you ever wanted are available to download as custom tracks from other users. On day one I had Zelda, Mario, Punch-Out!!, as well as a few others.
  • When pausing and resuming the game, you get a 5 second countdown timer to get ready. This helps a lot for that occasional dropped drum stick or overturned drum pedal.
  • Creating your own music is a pretty neat addition to the game, but it can be quite time consuming so be patient with it.

The Bad

  • As expected, there is a bit of artificial note inflation. At times you’ll be hitting notes that aren’t reflected as sounds in the game. What is happening here is that the developer is upping the challenge level, but they’re doing so in a way that causes a disconnect between the instrument and the song.
  • Solo tour is kind of odd from a progression standpoint. You’re forced to play multiple songs at a time, which means that you can’t just kill 10 minutes and quit.
  • If one band member fails, the whole band fails. This is terrible, as it’s going to intimidate newcomers into not playing with experienced players. For this genre, this is a huge oversight.
  • The instruments feel great, but message boards are lit up today with people complaining that their drums aren’t working (I had to fix one of my cymbals out of the box) or that their guitar is registering extra note presses. In some cases, people have failed out of a song because their guitar has gone wonky on them mid-song. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed and fix early, much like Harmonix did with the original Rock Band guitar.
  • The gap isn’t as wide as it used to be, but the note charts still aren’t quite as fun or seemingly as accurate as the Rock Band songs.
  • As of right now, the drums DO NOT WORK with Rock Band 2 on the PS3.
  • The drum pedal isn’t attached to the drum kit aside from the input jack. Expect it to slide around your floor a bit.

Bottom Line

Guitar Hero World Tour is a fine, fine, game. There are some issues that people are going to have with the World Tour mode and some of its odd quirks, but the actual music playing in the game is a lot of fun and well worth the random irksome moment. In moving from Rock Band to Guitar Hero you’ll lose some of the band-focused things like earning your tour bus or worrying about gaining new fans, and you’ll notice some odd things like note inflation, but none of it proves to be a deal breaker. With such a dynamic track listing, and with superior instruments, Guitar Hero World Tour has earned the right to sit alongside Rock Band on any gamer’s shelf. If you were to only get one title, I’d still favor Rock Band in the long run, but nobody should be disappointed in the least by Guitar Hero.

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