Our recent coverage of Rock Band 2 told a story of love, hate and uncertainty. Today, we cover that uncertainty with a review of Guitar Hero World Tour that fills in the gaps. That's not to say you have to go read the Rock Band 2 article if you haven't: no pop quizes, I promise. The point is that we now have the missing piece for a lot of people: the first music game that adds drums in the franchise that started the craze. Will it live up to the hype, or not? Or will it go a third direction. I'm going to bet on that last one. But that's a little unfair since I'm writing the review ;-)

Anyway, let's get the overview out of the way first. Guitar Hero was the first, and many music gamers cut their teeth on it. Guitar Hero World Tour (GHWT for short), takes it to the next level adding the same compliment of 4 player guitar, bass, drum and vocal action. GHWT is a different game than RB2, though. The approach is different, the implementation is different, and the end result is different in spite of the fact that the underlying concept is the same.

The first notable feature is the cartoonish interface. Rock Band and RB2 are a little more polished and clean looking, but different people will prefer different looks, so this isn't a huge thing. But the functionality of the interface is a bit clunky. We'll cover that more when talking about game modes, but navigating the game is less natural than RB2. Career mode is essentially broken up into 4 different solo careers and one band career, and the line up of songs you encounter is geared more toward the career for that instrument rather than a generalized tour like with RB2. This is good and bad. Actually, you'll probably see that phrase a lot in this article, so prepare yourself.

We would expect nothing less from a game called Guitar Hero than innovations in the guitar interface. GHWT also took an aggressive stab at RB2 with a more complex drum controller, but the special sauce is really in their guitar as far as we are concerned. The mic is the mic and it's just about the same as the RB2 mic. There are a couple neat differences in how some things work allowing a little more flexibility, but some of the "innovations" are more frustrating than fun.

The music studio is fairly full featured and allows for a little more creativity than the drum "freestyle" mode in RB2. There is also no way to freestyle with the guitar or bass in RB2, so GHWT adds that as well. But there are some really difficult issues that get in the way of this being a real solid feature.

GHWT online play is better in some ways and worse in others than RB2. Like I said, that'll happen a lot. Let's dispense with this preparatory overview nonsense and really dig in. First up, the guitar (and a sentence or two about the mic).

The Instruments: The Guitar and Mic


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  • DerekWilson - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    i disagree that ghwt is "harder" ... neither one is "real" in terms of hitting all the notes. which sucks.

    if you look at youtube and see the side by side charting, you'll see that some songs are harder on rock band 2 and some songs are harder on ghwt ... the ones that overlap anyway ...

    as for the song choice, that does have an impact, and some of the songs that ghwt picked are really hard and some of the songs that rb2 picked are really hard. it all comes out in the wash in my mind.
  • steveyballme - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    If you really wanna' rock:

  • crash resistant - Sunday, November 2, 2008 - link

    Whoever reviewed this game made several errors and assumptions without further testing. They didn't even verify how star power works while drumming....

    1: You hit both symbols ANY TIME and it activates.. no need to wait for a break- and it DOES NOT lose your streak. Sad...

    2: The drum pedal has never slid away from me, on two different carpets (thick and very thin at an office) or on a marble floor. Did they get a pedal with no grips? How unfair.

    3: The symbols are very responsive- the problem is the angle. I can barely tap the symbols to get the response even with the little sticks that came with the kit, it just has to be at the right angle.

    4: Symbols are symbols. You don't roll around and hit symbols as if they are drums.

    5: The interface is waaaaaaaaay more responsive than RB1 and RB2. (Mind you, I love all three games because of song selection)

    6: Tool?

    Go buy GHWT and RB2, full band kits- now.
  • DerekWilson - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    1) you can't physically hit the cymbals anytime -- if you are required to play something else and you miss those notes, you lose the streak. any time you are physically capable of inserting a hit on both cymbals (either when nothing is happening or one cymbal is being played and you can just add the other one in) you'll be fine and won't lose your streak. The point of what I wrote is that it is very difficult if not impossible /in many songs/ to actually activate star power without missing other notes. there are some songs in which it's super easy to activate star power at any time with no problem. But the songs in which it is difficult are the ones you need it the most ...

    2) i've tried it on carpet and floor with no luck. if there are grips beyond the pads on the bottom of the kick pedal then we did not get anything else (and neither did my parents who also bought ghwt and are havign trouble with the kick sliding).

    3) i mean responsive as in feel not activation of the trigger.

    4) everlong. other's as well, but that's the big one. also, rolls on cymbals are not uncommon. especially on the hi-hat.

    5) i dont know what you mean.

    6) yes, sorry i didn't mention tool. tool is awesome. i love tool. i would have bought the game just for those songs ... but not everyone would ;-)
  • crash resistant - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link


    1: You can hit both cymbals (can't believe I misspelled that 100 times) anytime and you will NOT lose your streak. It will automatically hit whatever notes were there. Try it. You need to try it before assuming you will lose your streak. Perhaps you are trying it at a bad time and not hitting them at the same time? I find this a fun and rewarding gameplay element. The only downside is that it is harder than the solo-session that RB provides. However the downside to RB is the solo-sections are not part of the original songs and, IMO, ruin the drumming in the song.

    2: The kick will not slide if you don't push it away with your foot. You should practice going down with the foot instead of forward. As a novice drummer I found my leg to wear out faster and get knee pain after long sessions when I was carelessly kicking instead of bouncing or tapping.... Seriously- try aiming "further up" on the pedal instead of just applying random pressure on the entire thing.
    In response to this article I had a friend play who I consider, well, an animal. His pedal moved about 6 inches by the end of Soul Doubt. This guy isn't a drummer or coordinated by any means- so it was the very best "worst case" scenario I could find.
    In comparison, the RB2 pedal is crap because it feels like you have to travel twice the distance. I would prefer to hone my skills to use the GH pedal and have a much better experience than use the current RB2.
    With that said, I can't wait for GH5 or RB3's kits- assuming they are even more tweaked.

    3: The cymbals are not responsive in terms of "bounce"... I agree. They aren't brass or sheet metal... they are really thick pieces of crap. However they are 100x better than another drum to emulate a cymbal.

    4: Oh yeah.. you can go progressive with cymbals with drums... true. However it's never going to appear or feel natural. It's relatively much harder and requires practice on different kits as they are all arranged differently.
    E.g. I began drumming on a kit with a snare, two toms, and a floor tom. I got used to the 4. Then I played at a friend's house for several days and he had only 1 tom. It took some serious getting used to. Similar to having a splash cymbal front and center between your toms. It's awesome- but awkward at first.

    5: The interface loads faster time-wise and feels better overall. Changing difficulty in the middle of a song with 4 players takes, at the most, 30 seconds. Try that on RB. (oh wait you can't) hehe

    6: I was in line in front of Best Buy on Sunday morning. There were 24 people in line. After the store manager came out and asked to divide the line based on preorders, he asked for a raise of hands. I followed with this question: "HOW MANY OF US ARE BUYING THIS GAME BECAUSE THERE ARE 3 TOOL SONGS ON IT?"
    I would say... all but 5-10 at the most didn't raise their hand. Proof that GH may just be a huge marketing game. (songs, cymbals, studio, etc)
    I still love it and will buy both games until they merge or I die.
  • aGreenAgent - Saturday, November 1, 2008 - link

    I couldn't disagree more with on the drum section of the review.

    First of all, the kick pedal is substantially better than Rock Band's. I've been playing drums for years, and this is much closer to the feel of a real kick pedal. I can't get the kick to move one bit. Once I set that kick pedal on the ground, it usually takes me a few seconds to peel it back off the ground. Enormous improvement over rock band. Also, double and triple kicks on the RB pedal are almost painfully difficult, but they're easy on the GHWT pedal. This pedal just feels much more like a real pedal.

    Also, I've had no trouble playing anything, the layout of the drum kit in the game matches my real kit's almost exactly (except the ride is a little further to the left than it would be).

  • dblagent - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    Look on the GHWT forums and you will see a LOT of upset people with instrument problems. The drums have got some press now, and they say that new production is fixed, but it is not confirmed as of yet that is for sure.

    As for me, I purchased the guitar and game kit, and the down strum broke on the guitar after just three hours use on easy mode! This seems to be a common problem reported widely and as of yet there has been no reply from the company. I exchanged and got a new one, and it now has about 4 hours on it and the strum has started squeaking horribly on the up strums. I strum up, my wife strums down so it is getting equal wear, but now this one needs exchanged as it is too bad to play with that is for sure! This was also reported on the GHWT forums and I can now confirm it too. Moral is, maybe wait for them to sort the issues out before I can recommend purchasing.

    Lastly, the manufacturer is telling people to send in the instruments for exchange or repair, but you have to pay for the shipping! When RB had trouble they helped the customers for free and footed the bill, GH is not going to apparently. Not very cool on their part, and it is angering the early adopters who are the biggest fans. Hope they can sort all this out.

    Now to do my second exchange tomorrow. Do like the game itself though, it just works better with my old guitars! I also looked at the demo guitars on display at Best Buy and the strum is different than what you get in the retail box. It is better feeling, stronger spring and better click feedback and feels GREAT. The ones you get in the box are more mushy and feel different. The ones in the store are wired, but otherwise identical units. I assume they are wired so no batteries and no theft, but I want one of those! They actually work. Myself and two employees compared both the first bad one and the one I exchanged for and there we could all tell the difference in the strum. Strange.

  • steveyballme - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    But I have personally foud this stuff to be fun!
    I have an advantage though, I play guitar for real.
    Check it out:
  • djdjohnson - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    It's interesting that Rock Band is given the nod in this review. I own all of the RB and GH games, and I definitely prefer GH over RB.

    The main reason is that I find Rock Band not challenging enough. With most songs in RB, I 5-* the songs the first time through on Expert, and pass all of them on the first attempt (with a couple exceptions). In GH I 5-* a few at the beginning of a career, but by 1/3 into the career I'm barely passing the songs the first time through. Any farther and I usually have to play them a time or two before I can get it down.

    I may be off base here, but if people are able to breeze through the hardest difficulty level in a game the first time through, doesn't that take some of the fun out of it?

    My other big gripe with RB is the constant repetition of songs. When you pick the "random set list" option the game might pick a song, then that same song appears again on the next set list you have to play. If all of the songs were awesome, this wouldn't be such an annoyance, but it seems like most of the time it's the songs I don't like playing. It has made me turn off the game a few times because of it. Playing through a bad song once is frustrating enough, but to be asked to play it twice nearly in a row is enough to send me over the edge.

    And contrary to the opinion of the author of this article, I actually like the layout of the GHWT drums. I did have to run their calibration utility to get mine to work properly, but once I did they are WAY better in every way than the RB version. And I actually like the pedal better too, despite its "wobbliness." It's a lot easier on the calf muscles than the Rock Band version. No more burning leg muscles for me.
  • Woodchuck2000 - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    I'm with you on that one... The fundamental problem I found with RB is that all of the songs are just too easy. If I can sight-read my way through on Expert getting 5* all the way, then where's the challenge?

    I actually like the fact that I'm stuck on the last couple of songs for GH3 on expert - it's always good to have a challenge!

    Does anyone know how guitar difficulty compares with RB1 and GH3?

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