Guitar Hero 5 Review


With the Guitar Hero series' return to numbered titles, you'd think that Guitar Hero 5 would be a big step up from its predecessor, Guitar Hero World Tour. In reality, Guitar Hero 5 is an evolutionary refinement of World Tour, leaving the core gameplay intact and adding a number of features that probably should have been a part of World Tour. The games are close enough in play to each other that if you haven't played World Tour I'm going to direct you to the review of that game and stick to the Guitar Hero 5 specific features in this review.

One of the coolest of those new features is that you're no longer constrained to a single instrument track per player. This means that you no longer have to fight with your SO over who gets to play lead guitar and who has to take bass. You can play any song with two, three, or even four players on lead guitar, or any other combination of instruments. Unfortunately this welcome feature comes with an unwelcome compromise - Guitar Hero World Tour tracks (and those from Smash Hits) are not compatible with Guitar Hero 5. You can import them (which means downloading new versions over the Internet), but it will cost you $3.49 to do so, and you'll have to pay the fee for both World Tour and Smash Hits. And to top it all off, not every song will transfer over. At least tracks purchased and downloaded for Guitar Hero World Tour seem to transfer over without any issues.

Now that we've got that bit of bad news out of the way, let's take a look at what else is new in 5. One of the more noticeable changes is that Guitar Hero 5 makes its music more accessible. You'll notice this change right from the start as the game loads into a randomly selected song. You can grab an instrument controller and start playing right away, and other players can join in and drop out at any time. This is a great mode for parties, where you can leave the game running and people can easily jump in and play or put down their instrument without ruining the rest of the song for everyone else. Every track is unlocked from the start without the need to play through the career mode first, so you can leave the game in this mode right out of the box, or bring it to a friend's house and not worry about transferring saved games to get to locked songs. When you want to get out of this party mode, simply press start and the game will take you to the familiar menu options.

Quickplay allows you to pick and choose the songs you'd like to play, either individually or as a set list, and as in the party mode all tracks are unlocked from the start. This mode has been made more accommodating to casual players as well, as you can only fail out of a song if you're playing at the hard or expert levels. There's also a beginner level for true beginners that requires only strumming or drumming in time to the music without the need to worry about hitting a particular fret or drum pad, but this mode is not much of a learning mode and is too simplified to be any fun. Quickplay comes with leaderboard support, so those with skills can compete to have the best scores by song, instrument, and difficulty level.