It could only be the ‘80s: big hair, make-up and leopard print spandex were de rigueur for rock stars of the day – and that’s just the blokes! Fashion disasters aside, some truly memorable rock hits were produced during the day-glo years, and what better way to pay tribute to the era than a Guitar Hero title dedicated to music from the decade that taste forgot?
Sound, graphics and game mechanics remain unchanged from Guitar Hero II, and it’s just as simple to get into. Solo players are well catered for with Career Mode, which follows the fortunes of a guitarist in an up and coming band trying to make it big in the industry. Money earned from gigs is used to buy better kit, and as your status increases so too do the size of the crowd and the standard of venue.
Single player is loads of fun, but multiplayer is so much more – especially if you own two guitar peripherals; you and a mate can play either co-operatively or in head-to-head shred-offs, where friendship takes a back seat to showmanship.
There are no new features in Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s, but in my opinion the tweaks Harmonix made to Guitar Hero II addressed any issues I had with the original, once the honeymoon period was over. Those features, such as flexible difficulty settings in multiplayer, a selection of lead, base and rhythm guitar parts - plus adjustable tempo for Practice Mode, carry over to this title and make the game more easily accessible and enjoyable to players of all ages and abilities.
There’s an excellent selection of tracks onboard, covering genres typical to the era: new wave, hair/glam metal and hard rock to name a few. As is the norm with Guitar Hero titles, most of the songs on the soundtrack are covers and I’m happy to report the high standard of previous titles has been upheld. Showcasing the fashion fads of the period, guitarists from previous titles are decked out in ‘80s threads (although their band mates are not). Izzy, Pandora, Axel and Judy never looked so good!
So is there anything negative to say about Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s? Sadly, yes; for the first time there are no bonus tracks to unlock. As well as giving gamers real value for money these ‘Easter eggs’ provided exposure for emergent bands to the general public, who otherwise might not know of their existence, so let’s hope this does not set a precedent for future Guitar Hero titles. The overall impression I got was that Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s is following in the footsteps of that other mass-produced party game, with titles churned out in quick succession to cash in on the hype and critical acclaim of the original.
So all things considered, is it worth adding to your collection? If you’re a Guitar Hero diehard and are happy to pay the same money for fewer tracks, then the answer is “yes”. Even if you weren’t a child of the ‘80s you will appreciate most of the soundtrack content, and if you do recall the days when Jon Bon Jovi, Vince Neil and Eddie Van Halen were poster boys for bands of the era, you won’t be disappointed by the high standard of covers. Either way, the game is guaranteed to keep the dust off your mini Gibson until Guitar Hero III releases in October this year.