Gamescom 2010: Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Hands-On Preview - No Way Back
Written Monday, August 30, 2010 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
After the deluge of rhythm games last year, it’s been a bit more peaceful up until now and all we’ve really seen in 2010 is the release of Green Day: Rock Band, but can the saturated market cope with one more glorious shred? Neversoft and Activision seem to think so, and with this being the last hurrah for the now dissolved Guitar Hero specific division, you’d hope that they would go out with a bang. Having said that, there is little doubt that the series will live on regardless.
After being given some hands-on time with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock at Gamescom this year, it is easy to get the basics out of the way – nothing here has changed. Ignoring the addition of an open-string bass note sustain, the rest of the game handles just as you have come to expect. Up to four players can take part using a mix of vocals, guitars and drums, so you pretty much know the drill. One thing I did notice is that the new guitar peripheral seems extremely small and light compared to recent years, heralding back to the popular Guitar Hero 2 instrument if anything. The idea behind this is the hope that players will create their own dream controller should they so wish, but it gives the guitar a very poor feel and the main fret button seems a tad sponge like to say the least.
So with no sweeping gameplay or peripheral changes, what exactly is going to draw players in? Well the awesome looking Quest mode of course. Narrated by none other than KISS Legend, Gene Simmons, this tells the tale of your quest to help out the Demigod of Rock in his eternal battle with the Beast. Obviously it sounds ridiculous, but it superbly draws upon practically every rock stereotype and album cover you can think of to create an epic journey. The whole thing is more story-based and more involving than a regular career mode would be and actually gives you something tangible to aim for rather than just the next gig.
Along the way you have to recruit other rockers, who are mainly recurring series favourites like Johnny Napalm and Lars Umlaut. They all have a specifically themed set list that you have to complete, although the real objective is achieving enough stars on each list to power up your rocker and acquire their special abilities. Johnny, for example, has the Speedfreak power which gives you a minimum of a 2x multiplier at all times. Snag enough stars though and this ability gets buffed even higher. As you unlock more rockers, you get a wider range of abilities to use. Plus, come the game’s finale, you can utilise multiple character abilities at once and really rack up the score and stars.
Reach the end of the story and the true challenge awaits. Megadeth have written a new song for the game called Sudden Death, with the promise that it will provide the sternest challenge yet for any Expert strummers. Assuming your fingers aren’t already bleeding from that kind of abuse, you can then progress to the Demigod chapter and expect up to ten songs that are pretty much at the same level of Through the Fire and Flames – remember that walk in the park? The developers certainly want you to suffer for your art this time around.
The real key here is getting back to the hardcore audience and bringing the game back to its pure rock roots, as opposed to the more family friendly fare of recent times. As a result there are no pop style chart toppers in the 93 strong track list and the emphasis is clearly on players who prefer to rock out at a Hard or Expert level.
Outside of story mode the game is also trying to bring a bit more value to the songs available, with each of them having up to thirteen challenges on offer. These will vary depending on the song, but can involve hitting a certain string of notes, maintaining your multiplier or snagging so many points. The neat thing here is that the challenges will also be added to any DLC you may already have, not to mention songs from the other games in the series, so you can go back to old favourites and find something new to do.
You can also challenge your friends with Target Play, which lets you throw down a score and then they can try to surpass it – along with the addition of messages to inspire or mock your nearest and dearest. It was also let slip that there could be some social networking aspects to the title too, so whether you might be able to trade songs or insults via Facebook, Twitter et al remains to be seen, but it would certainly open the game up to a much wider audience.
It is hard to get excited about a game that seems so familiar, but at least the new Quest mode offers a little something different. However, the real selling point here will be just how much added value the game has to draw back the hardcore crowd that became so disillusioned with the recent additions to the series. When the game lands in September, will it be with a bang or a whimper? Stay tuned to find out.
Guitar Hero is scheduled for a September 24th and September 28th release in Europe and North America respectively.