Last year’s Guitar Hero: World Tour was a huge success for the Guitar Hero franchise as it was turned into an obvious direction: playing in a band. Even though the title specifically mentions the guitar, music-based games such as Guitar Hero have become more than just two people wailing on their axes. It has now become a social experience that brings people together under one roof to rock the night away. Guitar Hero 5 is the latest iteration of Activision’s popular music game franchise. The question is: Is Guitar Hero 5 the latest and greatest?
One of the major updates to Guitar Hero 5 can be noticed as soon as the game boots up. The Party Play mode allows you to jump in and out of a song as you please along with your friends. Say you’re rocking out with your buds and the pizza delivery man rings the doorbell. Whoever is going to get the pizza can easily drop out of the game, get the pizza, and come back into the game with very little effort. This is certainly a much welcomed update as having a player drop out of the track midway would definitely put a damper on the experience. The same can be said about joining someone’s game. Easily dropping out and in of Guitar Hero 5 is going to be a feature I believe all music games should adopt. Add to the fact that all songs are unlocked, and you can certainly see why this would be a great feature.
In Guitar Hero: World Tour, and other music games where you can play as a band, players are stuck playing one instrument at a time. I can’t remember how many times I had to be the vocalist with barely a voice left because the other players couldn’t even be bothered with singing. In Guitar Hero 5, everyone and anyone can play as any instrument they want. If you want to treat Guitar Hero 5 as an all out Karaoke jam, you can certainly have everyone performing vocals. Same goes for guitars and drums. This is another great update that I feel will probably be mimicked in other music games as I can’t see myself playing another music title without feeling like I’m back in prehistoric days playing with just two guitars, one drum, and one vocalist.
The career mode is nearly identical to previous Guitar Hero games. You play in multiple venues to earn stars in order to unlock more venues and more tracks to play. The better your performance, the higher number of stars you will receive. One new addition in Guitar Hero 5 are the challenges attached to each song. Every song in career mode will have an icon representing the instrument required to attempt the challenge. Sometimes all instruments will be shown, indicating the challenge is for an entire band. The challenges take the career to another level as not only are you trying to complete the track, but you’re also performing an additional task to earn bonus stars.
Don’t have any friends but still want to rock out in a band? All you need to do is head online where you can play with other rockers on Xbox LIVE & Playstation Network. You can play the career online as well as a specific competitive mode if you want to challenge others in one of seven modes: Pro Faceoff, Momentum, Streakers, Do or Die, Perfectionist, Elimination, and RockFest, where players vote upon one of the previously listed gametypes. Online competitive mode can support up to 8 players at a time. That’s a lot of rockers!
The tracklist for Guitar Hero 5 is the biggest on-disc track list yet of any music game. 85 master tracks from a varied amount of artists including Gorrilaz, The White Stripes, and Johnny Cash to name a few. With the ability to FINALLY import tracks from Guitar Hero: World Tour and Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, as well as the ever growing DLC library from the Guitar Hero Store, Guitar Hero 5 offers a great selection of popular tracks. Guitar Hero 5 also has hidden characters which you can unlock to use as your playable character both offline and online. These characters add a creepy layer of realism to the game, especially Kurt Cobain as I’m sure we’re all know how his life came to a very tragic end. Regardless of that, the character models look amazing and is quite the special touch in this title.
FINAL THOUGHT: With 85 tracks to play along to, party play mode, and challenges in the career mode, Guitar Hero 5 is undoubtedly the latest and greatest Guitar Hero game in the franchise to date. Music game lovers will definitely be pleased with Activision’s offering this year as it has enough updates to keep the game true to its roots while offering something fresh.