If you've been counting Guitar Hero releases on your fingers, you're going to have to use another hand. With the release of Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, we're now up to number six in the series. But is the decision to leave the number out of the title an attempt to fool us to thinking this is something new?
Jumping into this new installment feels incredibly familiar; the core gameplay hasn't changed. In addition to this already solid base, Neversoft has boldly tried to add a quest mode to the game – but maybe they shouldn't have bothered. This obvious attempt to create some more filler, and give the game a sense of replayability and purpose, sees you play through stages to amass your army of mutant, monster guitar players and eventually summon the Demigod of Rock all in an effort to take down The Beast; a rock-hating creature who... okay, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Neversoft treads the line a bit too carefully between comedy and seriousness in this quest mode and it ends up feeling like a visual parody of the genre with attempted sincerity that just doesn’t get off the ground. The celebrity endorsement and narration for this added quest mode is provided by Gene Simmons of Kiss fame. Unfortunately, it’s badly put together and does little to improve an already confusing new element.
With all the good things that Guitar Hero 5 did, it's hard to imagine why this game even needed to be any more than a song-pack. However, there are more than 90 songs on here that fit the bill perfectly. Rush's ‘ 2112 ‘ features heavily in Warriors of Rock and is actually narrated by bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee, which will be a big pull for all metal-heads looking for a real musical challenge. While the game does feature the whole band of instruments from previous incarnations, the tracks are so obviously selected for their place on the guitar. Well, most of them anyway. Some of the heavier synth tracks, and those with piano lines like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘, are somewhat irritating when you have to wade through lengthy sections of subdued piano before you can start shedding up a storm again.
The track listing is somewhat broad in its definition of "rock" and includes classics from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Def Leppard and Black Sabbath, and even goes through to newer bands like Foo Fighters and Avenged Sevenfold. You can’t fault the set list on quantity and the quality is definitely there too – with the exception of Nickelback. Neversoft also tries to sneak in another celebrity endorsement, with Megadeth actually writing a track exclusively for the game.
Guitar Hero 5 did an amazing job of having really accessible menu systems that let you jump straight into the game, but unfortunately this new installment is bogged down with a shoddily designed UI that only makes it difficult to get to the most enjoyable parts of the of the experience. Even the note timings have been loosened up to make it easier on the newcomers, but this will only make the more hardcore players feel like they’re playing with a Fisher Price toy.
You have to give Neversoft points for effort, but all the unnecessary cow bells and whistles they’ve crammed into this title just seem like a distraction from what is essentially a great track-listing. And that’s what the rockers want; not the ability to morph a character into a cloven-hoof, fret-tapping, mutated, leather-clad, boar/human hybrid, but the chance to play the game they already know and love with tracks they can melt faces with.