Guitar Hero World Tour Review

Guitar Hero started it all, but Rock Band raised the bar by bringing a drum kit and microphone to the show. A year later Guitar Hero has followed suit, introducing a drum kit of its own and adding support for drum and vocal tracks in Guitar Hero World Tour. Now the battle of the bands has truly begun...

While you can buy the whole bundle and add drums and a mic to your growing pile of video game instruments, the additional instruments are not required to play the game. You can buy World Tour on its own and use hour existing guitars with it. In fact, if you do so you'll find that World Tour is not all that different from the guitar Hero games that have come before it. The biggest change comes in the way the career mode is structured, and even so it's more like the career mode of all than it is different. There aren't really separate single and multiplayer career modes any more; everything is now band-centric. You can play a few sets in career mode by yourself and then later pick it up where you left off with a couple of friends. You won't be tied to a particular instrument or rocker avatar as in the original Rock Band; the game gives you the freedom to switch instruments and personas throughout your band's career. The previous games' rigidly linear track progression has been loosened up a bit. Rather than playing your way through a tier of songs to unlock the next tier, World Tour allows you to choose which track set to tackle next from the several it makes available at a time. You'll still need to play them all to unlock all of the songs in the game, though, so even though you have some choice in the order in which you play through the set lists, the nonlinear aspect of the career mode is really an illusion. As in previous Guitar Hero games, the career mode is really just a means to make you earn the right to access every song in the game and outside of the time you spend playing the tracks its really rather dull.

The game comes with over 80 songs, all by the original artists. With a track list that large you'll inevitably get some questionable inclusions such as the no-talent Beastie Boys and the eternally annoying Michael Jackson (do aspiring guitar heroes ever stay up late at night trying to nail down the licks in Beat It?). I would have rather seen the return of some of the songs from prior games now that they could be played with drum and vocal tracks than some of the new songs in World Tour. Still, there are plenty of good tracks in the game, with classic and alternative rock well-represented and less of an emphasis on thrash and shred than in Guitar Hero III. World Tour supports down loadable songs (for a price, of course), but I'm sorry to say that any songs that you downloaded for Guitar Hero III are not compatible with World Tour.

World Tour has a feature that's a first for guitar games. Its music studio will let you create your own tracks for the game (minus any vocals). Before you get too excited, though, you should be aware of a couple of major obstacles, blocking your path to Guitar Hero song writing glory. The first is talent. You need to have an understanding of music and some talent for composing it if you're to have any hope of generating anything other than garbage no one will want to play. The second is that a plastic guitar controller is a poor interface device for use with a music composition tool. Activision would probably have been better off making the tool available through a browser or PC download. The good news is that songs created with the tool are shareable, so the few who are talented enough to use the music studio will be able to share their work with the many who are not.