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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Xbox 360) artwork

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (Xbox 360) review


"Yes, it feels a little bit stupid at first. However, the transformations are important because each character can utilize special abilities. These work almost like cheats. For example, one character can earn an additional two stars on any song if you play well enough that he otherwise would earn five. Another has the ability to ignore an error or two in short succession, meaning that if you miss a note it's not necessarily the end of a crazy streak you had going. There are eight characters in all, each with special abilities that have the potential to change how you play and to allow your fake artistry to reach new heights."



My office is my bedroom, one of two in a small apartment located less than a mile from the Pacific Ocean. With increasing frequency, my days begin with me waking to the sound of a FedEx or a UPS delivery man knocking on the door, my wife answering it and, finally, the bedroom door opening as the spousal unit steps inside and tosses a package onto the bed while I roll out from under the covers and complain about having to wake up before 12 o'clock. I have it pretty rough.

When Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock arrived, it came in a large box. My wife wasn't sure what it was, but she had the good sense not to chuck it at me. That could have hurt. As I opened the box and my wife asked what it was (hoping, no doubt, that it was another time-consuming RPG), I told her "It has to be the new Guitar Hero. That's the only thing that would require a box this big."

I was right. The box included the main retail package (a guitar and the game itself) and also a smaller box with items unknown. I opened the main box first, scrounged around trying to find the promised Soundgarden CD that is included in the bundle, then found that it was hidden away inside the main game case. Next I turned to the other box that Activision had sent, which turned out to be custom wings for the guitar. My brother-in-law, a fellow Guitar Hero enthusiast, took the place of my suddenly disinterested wife as we removed the default pieces that come with the retail version of the guitar, then snapped some sick new sides onto the plastic instrument. It now looked 100% badass. I don't know where you can get the alternative pieces for your own guitar, should you choose to buy Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, but I do know that I recommend doing so. They're awesome.

The game itself, I found once I synced my guitar to my Xbox 360 and began playing, wasn't as immediately captivating. It felt like Guitar Hero 5 only with different music. I read through some of the names on the back of the packaging, and found that the list is heavy on groups like Rush, Megadeath, Ozzy Osbourne, Alter Bridge and Avenged Sevenfold, but light on less ambitious shredders such as Tom Petty, John Fogerty, R.E.M. and the like. The full list of music available makes for more than 90 tracks, a grouping that can only be described as gargantuan, but it definitely won't suit everyone's tastes. The first piece of good news is that if you do like these artists, you're likely to enjoy Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock a great deal. The second piece? The music is nearly perfect for the game's gimmick.

As the title implies, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock turns the art of shredding into a battle against evil. When you tackle the 'Campaign' mode, you'll be able to choose from one of two artists. One is a dude with a spiked hair and the other is a busty chick. They each have their own venues and a selection of tunes that you can play through, earning stars along the way when your performances are up to snuff. Once you accrue enough stars, your artist will go through a transformation that turns him or her from a freak into an even bigger freak. One guy's head turns into that of a wild boar. One of the ladies finds her creamy complexion turned into snake scales. Each of those artists is pleased to have surrendered to the grip of true rock music.

Yes, it feels a little bit stupid at first. However, the transformations are important because each character can utilize special abilities. These work almost like cheats. For example, one character can earn an additional two stars on any song if you play well enough that he otherwise would earn five. Another has the ability to ignore an error or two in short succession, meaning that if you miss a note it's not necessarily the end of a crazy streak you had going. There are eight characters in all, each with special abilities that have the potential to change how you play and to allow your fake artistry to reach new heights.

Around halfway through the game, the four characters assembled up to that point will work through a series of songs performed by Rush, with narration in between provided by a member from that band. It feels like something from a science fiction novel. There's little interruption between one song and the next, which lends the whole affair an epic feel that I've not seen in a previous game within the genre. The music is pretty sweet, too. When that unusual affair concludes, you'll be able to go back to assembling your team before a spectacular series of showdowns that requires you to make the most of each of your team members. It's really quite unique.

As neat as the campaign mode can be, though, it's only one part of the Warriors of Rock experience. You can also create a custom rocker using gear that you have unlocked while playing through the main game. There are a slew of special guitars available, and hairstyles and tattoo arrangements. As many as 20 characters can be stored at once and there's enough variety available that creative types will want to produce at least a few freaks.

Star Challenges serve as another welcome attraction within the game. I've already mentioned the massive library of music available here. Each of those main songs has scores tied to it that you can beat, as well as challenges. For instance, you can earn stars for managing to keep a large streak going. If you have friends who also are playing the game, you can also go up against their scores for bragging rights, though almost none of my Xbox Live friends have played the game yet. Their loss.

Finally, the game also makes it easy to download and play assorted songs that come not from commercial artists we all know and love, but from individuals who have created their own custom selections. These don't come with score challenges and the like, naturally, and the ones that I tried weren't anywhere near as interesting as the mainstream stuff that currently makes up the bulk of the package, but there's obviously a lot of potential for the indie scene. It'll be interesting to see where, if anywhere, that option takes the game's online experience. The developers are clearly aware of that fact, as some of the many achievements offered reward the player for trying out some of that custom music.

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock has grown on me, the gaming equivalent of an ear worm. When I first began playing the game, the new gimmick--musicians turning into monsters as the soul of rock consumes them--seemed stupid and unnecessary, the song selection leaned too heavily toward harder and less interesting rock and the general play felt too much like Guitar Hero 5 stuck on repeat to really justify paying the cost of retail entry yet again. Maybe all of those criticisms are still true, but I don't quite care because they faded into the background as I spent more and more time with the game and dug deeper into the experience than I've ever cared to dig while playing previous Guitar Hero titles. Even if it's not immediately obvious, there's something special here. Rock on!

Rating: 9/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (October 02, 2010)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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