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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  • crimson117 - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    Regarding paying for gigs, many bands have a choice:
    1. Get hired directly by the venue/event organizers and get paid a flat rate (like playing a wedding or cruise ship)
    2. Agreeing to play at a venue for no fee and just splitting the ticket revenue with the venue
    3. Pay to rent out the venue and sell your own tickets, provide your own security, etc, taking on the risk and keeping the profits yourself.

    Phish actually got started that 3rd way. "On January 26, 1989, Phish played the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, Massachusetts. The owners of the club had never heard of Phish and refused to book them, so the band rented the club for the night. The show sold out due to the caravan of fans that had traveled to see the band."
  • DerekWilson - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    i've done 1) and 2) but never 3) ...

    that's a very interesting point though ...
  • Myrandex - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    On the last page..."We prefer the non-cartoonish look over Rock Band, but that's just a preference issue really."

    I really think RB looks a lot less cartoonish than GHWT.

    I think that I will rent this one to just play some of the cooler songs on here. I'm all about LP's "What I've Done" and the Tool songs look pretty sweet. There were some other ones on the list too that looked good, but of course there will always be some bad ones too.
  • Sanctusx2 - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    You mentioned that the RB2 instruments don't have XBL headset plugs. That's incorrect.

    I usually play guitar and drums with the headset plugged in and it works fine. Maybe you missed it? They are pretty small holes.
  • jnmfox - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    That's what she said... Reply
  • munim - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    You completely forgot to mention TOOL!!!!! I'm practically subsidizing my friend's purchase of this game because of it. Reply
  • Lord 666 - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    It would have been amazing if they included Alice in chains, NIN, and maybe even more Doors songs "Start my fire", "the end", "unknown soldier" or run (from waiting for the sun)

    I'm also having the sensitivty issues on the red drum pad. Have to hit insanely hard to trigger it.
  • DerekWilson - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    yeah, I love tool as well ... that's one of the major reasons I was excited about GHWT also. That and more dream theater :-) Reply
  • bootay69 - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    The article notes that one of the innovations in the GHWT instruments (guitars specifically) is the inclusion of an XBox Live headphone jack for live play. RB 1 and RB 2 instruments all have that - on the guitar it is a small jack on the side of the guitar, near the fat bottom, and on the drums it's basically right in the middle facing the drummer on the edge.

    GH drives me nuts with modified songs (to make them more difficult instead of more real), cartoony 12-year old appealing graphics, and just plain limited innovation. Band Battles, Challenges, etc. just awesome in RB, as is the HUGE volume of DLC. And the drums...oh lordy the drums are SO good now (although I agree there are huge improvements to be had, I can play for hour after hour now, drenched in sweat, loving every minute of it).

    Rawk on!
  • abhatia - Friday, October 31, 2008 - link

    [article comment] Reply

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