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Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (PlayStation 2) artwork

Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (PlayStation 2) review


"The original Guitar Hero’s release in 2005 achieved mass commercial and critical success, almost single-handedly reviving the rhythm game genre. Although the companies behind the phenomenon, Harmonix and RedOctane, have now parted company, their last collaboration is now with us. Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s is a collection of thirty tracks from the decade; the song list is a bit hit-and-miss, but the real disappointment is the lack of value and lazy presentation. "



The original Guitar Hero’s release in 2005 achieved mass commercial and critical success, almost single-handedly reviving the rhythm game genre. Although the companies behind the phenomenon, Harmonix and RedOctane, have now parted company, their last collaboration is now with us. Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s is a collection of thirty tracks from the decade; the song list is a bit hit-and-miss, but the real disappointment is the lack of value and lazy presentation.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Guitar Hero is all about living out your rock star fantasies. Using the Gibson SG guitar controller (which is sold separately), you have to hit colour-coded notes that scroll down the screen towards you. There is a career mode to rock your way through, which is where you’ll unlock the songs. You can also jump into quick-play mode, practise songs in training mode, or rock out with friends competitively or co-operatively in multi-player.

Rocks the 80s uses the same engine as Guitar Hero 2; the difference is in the song list. You’ll find tracks that encompass glam metal (“Round and Round” by Ratt), new wave (“I Ran (So Far Away)” by Flock of Seagulls), and plenty more tunes that defined the decade. A lot of the early tracks in the career mode feel very similar and thus are quite boring, but the later tracks are very fun and challenging to play. Plenty of three-button chords and crazy solos means there is plenty of challenge here.

To go along with the 80s themed set list, you’d expect the style and presentation to get an 80s makeover. Unfortunately, it feels like a half-done job. The menu screens and characters have been revamped (and there are a couple of new loading screen gags), but the venues you play at are almost exactly the same as they were in Guitar Hero II. Most frustrating is the fact that the band that plays on stage with you (singer, bassist, and drummer) did not get an 80s makeover. It just looks out of place and it wouldn’t have taken much effort to remedy.

Although the half-hearted graphical presentation is disappointing, the visuals are not bad to look at. They are pretty much the same as Guitar Hero II, and that wasn’t a bad looking game. You’ll be focusing much on the scrolling notes as you play, but if your eyes stray, you’ll appreciate the crowd going crazy and your on-screen avatar pulling some sick moves. The quality of covers varies quite drastically. Some are great representations of the original tracks, while others are quite shameful. The game has five master tracks which are “I Ran (So Far Away” by Flock of Seagulls, “Because, It’s Midnite” by Limozeen, “The Warrior” by Scandal, “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister, and “Electric Eye” by Judas Priest.

Ultimately, Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s isn’t a terrible game, but its extreme lack of value makes it hard to recommend to anyone but hardcore fans of the series. The half-baked presentation is disappointing and the pricing isn’t great value. At thirty tracks with no bonus songs, it feels like an expansion pack priced as a full game. If you can look past this and have money to burn, you’ll appreciate a fresh set of tracks to revitalise your Guitar Hero experience. The set list may not be totally fantastic, but there are some stand-out tracks with plenty of challenge.

Rating: 6/10

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Community review by PAJ89 (October 27, 2007)

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