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New 'Guitar Hero' out of tune

Oct 27, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Warriors of RockPolish those picks, tighten those strings and have plenty of Epsom salts and warm water to soak your hands in. Another installment in the 'Guitar Hero' franchise has arrived with all of the fiery finger fretting we have come to enjoy from the rhythm game series.

'Warriors of Rock' is the sixth main entry in the franchise and like an aging rocker involved in yet another reunion tour, 'Guitar Hero' is starting to really show its battle scars. Developers Neversoft are trying every trick in the book to challenge us as players and court as consumers. The problem is, they are just trying way too hard and it really shows.

'Guitar Hero' and 'Rock Band' critics have argued for some time that there is no need for annual retail "sequels" but instead, all of the songs should just be made available as downloadable content on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. The fact is though that many consumers want more and get more with a retail release. Not so though with 'Warriors of Rock'. "Guitar Hero" lives and dies on its set list and this one is a weak, cluttered muddle that really doesn't pay tribute to its rock, heavy metal roots. With FM radio standards like 'Feels Like The First Time' by Foreigner, 'Losing My Religion' by REM and 'Uprising' by Muse, you will be scratching your head more often than you will be banging it.

Warriors of RockNeversoft even goes as far as taking synthesizer dominated songs like 'Wish' by Nine Inch Nails and pushes them off as guitar pieces by translating the notes. There is something just not right about what Neversoft has done. Playing keyboard on your guitar feels awkward and forced. Not anyone's idea of a good time.

The painful truth is that besides the occasional choice classic like the "Theme from Spiderman" by The Ramones, "Fortunate Son' by CCR, 'Money For Nothing' by Dire Straits, 'Paranoid' by Ozzy and Metallica, "Move It On Over" by George Thorogood & The Destroyers and "Rockin' in the Free World" by Neil Young, you will not enjoy playing through this substandard set list inhabited by second-rate songs like 'Renegade' (Styx) or 'Love Gun' (Kiss).

Yep. While writing those titles, I threw up just a little bit. Yech.

Warriors of RockIsn't rocking out to great rock songs the whole point of 'Guitar Hero'? I guess Neversoft kinda forgot about that. I mean Night Ranger? Seriously?

If there is one positive thing that can be said about the 'Warriors' set list is it spotlights Canadian talent. Tom Cochrane and Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" makes a surprise appearance as does Neil Young's rebellious anthem: 'Rockin' in the Free World'. The biggest selling point of the game though is you can play Rush's classic '2112' in its entirety. The multi-part song is included as part of a special segment during 'Quest' mode and follows the story line as outlined by the song itself. Narrated by the band members, the marathon jam, which is positioned close to the start of the 'Quest', is the best thing about 'Warriors of Rock' and when you are finished it, the rest of the game just pales in comparison.

Not only are the songs nothing to get excited about but the actual game mechanics have been ruthlessly dumbed down in that you don't play for points anymore but just a rating, while the gameplay is erratic. 'Warriors' is one of, if not THE, hardest 'Guitar Hero' game ever produced but unlike the challenging 'Guitar Hero: Metallica', it is for all the wrong reasons.

Warriors of RockFans of the series are used to some logical progression in the sets. Things start out fairly relaxed then you move into double notes and other skills sets as you progress. None of that is present in 'Warriors'. In Quest mode (narrated by Gene Simmons), you recruit 'Guitar Hero' icons Johnny Napalm, Judy Nails, Lars Umlaut and others to free the 'Demi-God of Rock'. Each character has their own set list and those lists are a jumble of skill sets and types. Nothing, not the song selection, not the song type, not the note placement, makes any rational sense.

To frustrate players even further, the way in which the songs are mapped, constructed is purposely clumsy to ramp up the difficulty. Odd notes that don't really fit in are plopped in here and there to trip you up. More of the notes and combinations are crowded together giving you very little time to adjust on the fly. Worst of all, many of the notes don't even follow the anticipated rhythm. So, not only do you have to play a lot of cruddy songs but you have to put up with being hosed by the developers too? Not cool.

Warriors of RockWith its palty Party Mode and Quickplay challenges, 'Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock' is the worst thing a video game can be: frustrating…and not in the good, inspirational way either. Like that used up, washed up, used up band who just doesn't know when to pack it in and salvage what little dignity they have left by becoming producers or something, 'Guitar Hero' is a pale reflection of what it used to be. Maybe with enough rehab and soul searching, it can be fun to play again.


Warriors of RockGuitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site:

Rating: 3 / 10



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