Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock review
Available for
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii
Publisher
Activision
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

Reviewed by Jason Zingale

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Y

ou have to give the guys over at Activision a little credit. After taking over the “Guitar Hero” franchise in 2007, and then draining the life out of it by releasing 13 different iterations of the title over the next three years, they’re still coming up with ways to keep the series as fresh as possible. Unfortunately, while this year’s edition strives to do just that by streamlining the “Guitar Hero” experience into a story mode, it’s never felt staler. You can blame it on overexposure or just a really weak set list, but “Warriors of Rock” feels more like a chore than anything even resembling the kind of fun you used to have rocking out on a plastic toy guitar.

No doubt inspired by Tim Schafer’s “Brütal Legend,” the new Quest Mode has you recruiting eight warriors of rock (including series regulars Axel Steel and Johnny Napalm, as well as a few new faces) to band together and rescue the Demigod of Rock from enslavement by a mechanized creature called The Beast. Each hero has their own special ability – like a 6x multiplier instead of the usual 4x, or a shield that protects your streak if you miss a note – that helps in earning stars during gameplay. Once you’ve met the star limit for a character (and no, you won’t have to play every song in the set list to do so), you unlock their warrior form, transforming them into demonic monsters with a supercharged ability that you’ll need in order to be victorious.

Unfortunately, it’s mostly just a poorly plotted distraction to prevent you from realizing how dull “Guitar Hero” has become. The updated Quickplay+ Mode does offer some replay value with song-specific challenges that reward you with stars that can be used to unlock additional content, but those stars aren’t the same as the ones you earn in Quest Mode. So why put such an emphasis on earning stars when they don't even count? Who knows, but Activision would have you believe that it’s actually worth going back and laboring through all ten set lists (including both boss battles) again with your newly earned powers just so you can boast 100% completion. Here’s a tip: it’s not.

That’s because the set list pales in comparison to past installments, and you’ll be lucky if you can find 20 tracks in the game's massive 92-song soundtrack that you’d actually want to play again. While each character is assigned songs that correspond to their respective musical tastes, there are at least two that largely feature heavy metal, while the grand finale forces you to play a trio of Megadeath songs that only diehard fans will enjoy. It’s still not as bad as the boss battle that takes place midway through Quest Mode, however, which tasks you with playing the seven-part, 20-minute suite, “2112,” by Rush. Between that and the bewildering use of re-recorded versions of classic songs by the original musicians, it’s almost as if Activision is just begging to be ridiculed by critics and fans. They’ve certainly succeeded with “Warriors of Rock,” because if it's remembered for anything, it'll be as the beginning of the end of music rhythm games.

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