Guitar Hero 5 doesn't do much to progress the series, but remains as fun as it's ever been.
The original game was just guitar. Press one of five buttons: green, red, yellow, blue, and orange and strum in time with the music as the notes come down the screen towards you. The concept was so simple, yet so fun.
With the release of Guitar Hero: World Tour in 2008, Guitar Hero fans finally got full band gameplay to rival Harmonix's Rock Band. On the surface, World Tour seemed like a worthy contender, but was ultimately bogged down by mediocre graphics, presentation, and career mode.
In Guitar Hero 5 (GH5) the full band of course returns. The same hardware from World Tour is used in GH5. The same game structure has just been recycled into GH5. This may annoy some gamers, but it won't matter much, as you will be focused more on the gameplay.
And the gameplay, like the career mode for example, has been improved on. In World Tour's career, players were forced to play all the songs in a predetermined set to move on, a gameplay decision that certainly got annoying after awhile. In GH5 that's not the case. The songs are still contained to a certain venue, but no longer must players play all of the songs in the venue at one time.
There is a certain number of songs in each venue, and players must obtain a certain number of stars in each venue to unlock the next. Expert players will be able to get high rankings on each song, so often times they will be able to get to the next venue without having to play every song. This is good because you can now skip some of the less exciting songs you would rather not play.
But you won't be tempted to complete the career. The career has no depth. Sure, they are instrument specific challenges to earn extra stars (i.e. high note streak, hit all snares, etc.) but it doesn't last long. When will we get an in-depth realistic career, where we start out as an unknown garage band, struggling to make it in the industry? When will we get to choose which songs we want to play in order to impress critics and producers? When will we have to budget our money and impress the fans?
For now, these questions remain unanswered. But luckily, the multiplayer in Guitar Hero remains as fun as it was meant to be. All 85 songs in the game are unlocked from the beginning of the game. This is great for those players who just want to jump in and see what the game has to offer.
For the most part, the songs are good and fun to play. Artists like Elton John, Santana, Dire Straits, Rush, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers all grace the soundtrack with enjoyable songs. Some songs aren't the most difficult by any means, but are good musically, like Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."
I think most fans will be able to find songs that they like, and will keep coming back for more. However, a simple fact remains: the game is easy. Guitar Hero veterans will have no trouble five-starring every song. For myself, an expert Guitar Hero veteran, only one song, Jeff Beck's "Scatterbrain," provided a substantial challenge and is the only song I am yet to five star.
GH5 is great to play online though. Connection through Nintendo WFC is smooth and painless, and gameplay runs smoothly. A lot of new competitive modes have been added, as well as just basic band co-op quickplay. If you have online, it will probably be the thing you come back to the most.
Some other modes, like the Song Creater and Mii Freestyle have been improved upon. You no longer have to be a musician to make at least a decent song with GHMix. Some things have been added to Mii Freestyle to give it a little depth, but once again is just a seldom-used novelty.
The new mode, Roadie Battle, was something I was eager to try out. It was fun at first, but because I only had my brother to play with, it didn't offer much. Basically, playing against the AI is not very enjoyable. If the AI is on guitar, they are very bad at playing, sabotaged or not. You really need two DS's and four players to get the full experience, but the mode has promise.
The graphics and presentation are much more refined, overall giving GH5 a more welcoming appearance. There aren't as many grotesque visuals.
Guitar Hero veterans looking for a challenge won't find it in GH5. For them, maybe a rental will suffice. However, the multiplayer and pretty much everything else about the game is improved from World Tour, and especially if you missed World Tour, GH5 will be a blast.
+improved career from World Tour
+pretty good tracklist; gamers will find songs they like
+fine-tuned graphics and presentation
-no depth to career
-guitar hero veterans will have no trouble
Final Score: 8.5