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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

 

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Interactive Music
 
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Author:

Developer: Vicarious Visions/Neversoft Entertainment
Publisher: Activision

Features:

Guitar Controller Compatible
Drum Controller Compatible
Microphone Compatible
Nintendo Wi-Fi Compatible
DLC Support

Anyone remotely interested in interactive music games should know the one name that really did kick off the genre on home consoles, and that name is Guitar Hero. Personally, I was somewhat late to the party as I did not find interest until Guitar Hero 3 released. Since then I have enjoyed many nights strumming on my guitar controller. Well over the past year or so the genre has gotten a lot of flack for not staying fresh and letting itself become somewhat mundane. Guitar Hero, the name that started it all, has really taken a beating in the press given it released around five different games last year alone. Well, things have changed and Activision has only released one Guitar Hero this year. Warriors of Rock is on store shelves now and I got the chance to play the Wii version of this long running franchise. So how does this latest game pan out?

Graphics

Visually, Warriors of Rock continues to incorporate the same look that many have become used too in past versions of Guitar Hero games. Over the top characters seem to be the theme here. That being said, the ‘over the top’ look seems to be very noticeable when the main characters transform into their “true selves.” Prior to that you may notice that the non-transformed character, although still somewhat over the top, seem to try to look more “real” and fit into the genre a bit more. It does not matter in the end though, as each character looks and feels very Guitar Hero-esque (editor’s note - is that even a word?). As for the venues, special effects, and the rest of the overall look, not a lot has changed, and much of it will be recognizable to any Guitar Hero fan. For those very few who are just entering the Guitar Hero world, everything looks solid and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. It is worth a quick note that the game does not look as sharp as the HD versions found on the Xbox 360 or PS3, but this is to be expected given that game is on weaker hardware; overall the difference is not mind shattering and should not ruin the experience.

Sound

As for the audio, I would have to say that Warriors of Rock manages to hit the mark here. The set list is over 90 songs and is pretty diverse in its content. As is the way with most games in this genre, the songs are master tracks and manage to fill up the Wii’s DVD very well. Although the music is only incorporated to use the Wii’s stereo output (Dolby Surround Sound) the music still manages to fill a room, especially if you play on a set-up that incorporates more than just TV speakers. Here is a list of many of the songs available in Warriors of Rock:

Aerosmith - "Cryin'"
AFI - "Dancing Through Sunday"
Alice Cooper - "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
Alter Bridge - "Ties That Bind"
Anberlin - "Feel Good Drag"
Anthrax – "Indians"
Arch Enemy - "Nemesis"
Atreyu - "Ravenous"
Avenged Sevenfold - "Bat Country"
Bad Brains - "Re-Ignition (Live)"
Band Of Skulls - "I Know What I Am"
Black Sabbath - "Children Of The Grave"
Blind Melon - "Tones Of Home"
Blue Oyster Cult - Burnin' For You
Bush - "Machinehead"
Buzzcocks - "What Do I Get?"
Children Of Bodom - "If You Want Peace… Prepare For War"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Fortunate Son"
Deep Purple - "Burn"
Def Leppard - "Pour Some Sugar On Me (Live)"
Dethklok - "Bloodlines"
Dire Straits - "Money For Nothing"
Dragonforce - "Fury Of The Storm"
Drowning Pool - "Bodies"
Fall Out Boy - "Dance, Dance"
Five Finger Death Punch - "Hard To See"
Flyleaf - "Again"
Foo Fighters - "No Way Back"
Foreigner - "Feels Like The First Time"
George Thorogood And The Destroyers - "Move It On Over (Live)"
Interpol - "Slow Hands"
Jane's Addiction - "Been Caught Stealing"
Jethro Tull - "Aqualung"
John 5 Feat. Jim Root - "Black Widow Of La Porte"
Kiss - "Love Gun"
Linkin Park - "Bleed It Out"
Lynyrd Skynyrd - "Call Me The Breeze (Live)"
Megadeth - "Holy Wars… The Punishment Due"
Megadeth - "Sudden Death"
Megadeth - "The Day We Fight!"
Metallica Feat. Ozzy Osbourne - "Paranoid (Live)"
Muse - "Uprising"
My Chemical Romance - "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)"
Neil Young - "Rockin' In The Free World"
Nickelback - "How You Remind Me"
Night Ranger - "(You Can Still) Rock In America"
Nine Inch Nails - "Wish"
Orianthi - "Suffocated"
A Perfect Circle - "The Outsider"
Pantera - "I'm Broken"
Phoenix - "Lasso"
Poison - "Unskinny Bop"
Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Queensryche - "Jet City Woman"
R.E.M. - "Losing My Religion"
RX Bandits - "It's Only Another Parsec…"
Rammstein - "Waidmanns Heil"
Rise Against - "Savior"
Rush - "2112 Pt. 1 - Overture"
Rush - "2112 Pt. 2 - The Temples Of Syrinx"
Rush - "2112 Pt. 3 - Discovery"
Rush - "2112 Pt. 4 - Presentation"
Rush - "2112 Pt. 5 - Oracle: The Dream"
Rush - "2112 Pt. 6 - Soliloquy"
Rush - "2112 Pt. 7 - Grand Finale"
Silversun Pickups - "There's No Secrets This Year"
Slash Feat. Iggy Pop - "We're All Gonna Die"
Slash Feat. Ian Astbury And Izzy Stradlin - "Ghost"
Slayer - "Chemical Warfare"
Slipknot - "Psychosocial"
Snot - "Deadfall"
Soundgarden - "Black Rain"
Steve Vai - "Speeding"
Stone Temple Pilots - "Interstate Love Song"
Strung Out - "Calling"
Styx - "Renegade"
Sum 41 - "Motivation"
Tesla - "Modern Day Cowboy"
Third Eye Blind - "Graduate"
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - "Listen To Her Heart"
The Cure - "Fascination Street"
The Dillinger Escape Plan - "Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants"
The Edgar Winter Group - "Free Ride"
The Hives - "Tick Tick Boom"
The Offspring - "Self Esteem"
The Ramones - "Theme From Spiderman"
The Rolling Stones - "Stray Cat Blues"
The Runaways - "Cherry Bomb"
The Vines - "Get Free"
The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army"
Them Crooked Vultures - "Scumbag Blues"
Twisted Sister - "We're Not Gonna Take It"
ZZ Top - "Sharp Dressed Man (Live)”

Like I said, the list is pretty diverse, but in someways it is almost too diverse actually. The game is supposed to be about Warriors of Rock, and I am sure that some will wonder about the addition of some of these songs. Regardless, I think that many should find a lot to enjoy here. I should also note that you can import songs from previous versions of Guitar Hero which should make your playtime even longer, and more enjoyable.

Gameplay

If you don’t know much about the Guitar Hero games, then you have been living under a rock for the past four or five years. Usually we get into a in-depth summation of the game’s standard play elements, but given how many reviews we have written in the interactive music genre, it would be pointless to do this yet again. What I can do is let those one or two of you out there who have never tried any of these games know is that Guitar Hero allows you to strum (guitar or bass), beat (drums), or sing (microphone) your way to glory. Your real life actions on the game’s instrument controllers must be in beat, or tune, to the on screen cues (e.g. falling rectangles of varying color or words with a pitch meter) you are provided. It is as simple as that.

One of the biggest additions to the Guitar Hero franchise is that this latest game has some semblance of a story this time around. Putting it as simply as possible, a past rock god lost the fight against evil, and has been entombed in stone. Evil has once again reared its ugly head and it up to you, playing as past Guitar Hero characters, to vanquish evil, restore balance in life, and basically protect rock and roll as we know it. Although many people buy interactive games to just play the music in quickplay type modes, this story does allow you to play on opening new music and new characters as you progress. It adds a bit of a reason to want to play more, as you want to get that next song or character opened in your quest to be the hero.

Warriors of Rock continues the tradition of Guitar Hero gameplay modes with Quickplay, Quickplay+, Party Play, and Competitive Play. Quickplay and Quickplay+ allow you to jump in and play any of the songs from the game. The main difference between these two modes is that Quickplay+ lets you perform challenges that are point related by trying beat someone else’s score (e.g. star or power-up related). During Quickplay mode you have the ability to ‘rank-up’ and unlock other venues, artwork galleries, and new gear, plus you also try to place on the leaderboards. Party Play is the most ‘casual gamer’ friendly mode as it is basically a no-fail mode that allow you and your friends to play any song and drop in and out at any time during the song. As the modes title states, this is really geared for those nights of you hosting a party and there is an itch to listen, and play, some music. Finally, Competitive Mode allows you to compete against other people, be it on or offline.

We cannot forget that Warriors of Rock has a Quest Mode that contains the story I mentioned earlier. Here the mode is broken up into different Guitar Hero characters that play different music. For example, Johnny Napalm plays punk rock music whereas Axel Steel plays heavy metal music. As you play each character in each of their venues you will earn the well recognized Guitar Hero stars that will eventually help you transform into you true warrior form (special character). It is also worth noting that this time around each Guitar Hero character that you play has a special ability to assist you in eventually opening up his true rock character. Once you transform your character into his true self your powers are transformed too. These powers help make the game somewhat more manageable, as you can do some pretty cool things. A prime example of this is that once Axel Steel transforms, his ability to resurrect you if you fail a song two times increases to five times. Overall the special powers that each character has is important as the difficulty level in Warriors of Rock seems to be amped up and you will find yourself thanking your lucky stars for your character's powers that can help you get through a particularly difficult song.

Being that this is a review of the Wii version, owners of Nintendo’s home console get a Wii specific mode not found on the bigger consoles out there. Roadie Battles returns in Warriors of Rock, but this time there is support for up to four roadie and instrumental teams. What this mode entails is that teams are broken into two players, one with an instrument and one with a DS. Players with the DS, which will utilize the download play of the Wii/DS integration, earn spins via their partner’s instrumental performance, on what essentially is a prize wheel. The spins enable the DS players to play mini-games that can boost their partner's performance or even help get them out of a jam. Overall this is a pretty neat add-on and something that you can have fun with as long as you have the instruments and gear (DS’s) to do so.

So now you have an awareness of what is included on the disc, but in the end what is important is how the game plays, how it feels, and if you will feel satisfied. This is where it gets tricky. I believe that there is no middle of the road here, as you will either really like this game, or it may not be your cup of tea. Let me explain.

The track list is very diverse and quite large (as noted in the sound section), and to tell you the truth I had no problem with it, but I can foresee many not liking the mix of songs that are included, especially for a game with the title Warriors of Rock. For me, I was surprised with how many songs I did indeed find myself enjoying when I thought I would not enjoy many at all. Don’t get me wrong though, you’ll find more than a few stinkers here, but overall I liked the mix, but then again not everyone may think the same as me. I also have to comment on the difficulty level. Now I am not a Guitar Hero or Rock Band expert, but I know when games in this genre seem too hard too easy, and as for Warriors of Rock, I find it to be one of the more difficult games in the franchise to date. Sure, some may like a challenge, and that is cool, but man this game can be tough as nails. I almost think those few looking to try out the genre for the first time may be better off looking at previous versions of the series prior to graduating to Warriors of Rock. Finally, I have to comment on the menu system and its inability to feel natural when navigating around the game. This aspect feels somewhat dated, and almost a step back from the gains made in Guitar Hero 5. You’ll find yourself wandering the menus a lot more this time around, and this can be a bad thing given that many who buy this game just wanna rock and play some tunes.


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