Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock gameplay adds in super-powers

Will the new Quest mode breathe some fresh life into Activision's annual rocker?

Recent Guitar Hero entries have experimented with the idea of expanding the soundtrack beyond the typical rock and metal blend, with mixed reactions from fans. But the core series is clearly back to its rockin' roots with Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock; it’s easy to see there’s a revitalized focus on heavier and straight-up rock tracks, as well as a new menu and cut-scene art style, which takes its cues from any number of iconic album covers. But the big deal this year? Each character now has super-powers.

In the Quest mode, you'll play as the demigod of rock (voiced by KISS front man Gene Simmons), who finds his legendary guitar stripped from him and encased in stone by an evil robot boss. To regain his powerful instrument and once more unleash the power of rock, he enlists the powers of several familiar Guitar Hero avatars, who rock out at different venues around the world (including a recreation of classic club CBGB in New York) to complete challenges and aid his voyage. How do they do that? By playing so well that the latent rock beast inside them awakens like an X-man’s mutant power.

Thus, Johnny Napalm goes from Mohawk-sporting punk rocker to a blue-skinned, teleporting gargoyle thing. And corpse paint-wearing death metal devotee Lars Umlaut gets a pig head and an outfit that looks even more doomish than usual.

Along with these physical changes come character-specific special powers – such as the ability to gain 10% Star Power for each 10 notes played, or to earn double the star points at all times – which can be utilized to reach scores and star counts (a second measure of performance) never imagined in previous titles. During a four-player jam, we managed to rack up more than 25 stars (40 is the new max, up from five), with the drummer netting a 32x multiplayer throughout much of the track. Developer Neversoft says separate leaderboards will be used for these abilities, so purists don't need to worry about mucking up the talent pool.

In the Quickplay+ mode, each song will offer 13 specific challenges like those seen in Guitar Hero 5's career mode, such as using the whammy bar a certain amount of time, playing a solo without missing a note, and so on. This gives players a meaty alternative to the Quest mode, and each and every compatible DLC track (more than 500) will also be retrofitted with these challenges. We also spotted a new persistent ranking system in the game, which builds with regular play and unlocks in-game content. Neversoft also mentioned plans to utilize a rivalry system that sounds a bit similar to what publisher Activision included in the recently released Blur.

Speaking of the tracklist, Activision says the September release will include more than 90 tracks on the disc, and while the soundtrack does deliver a lot of metal and otherwise heavy-hitting offerings, it still offers up many contemporary artists and radio-ready hits. That means Slayer's "Chemical Warfare" stacks up alongside Fall Out Boy's "Dance, Dance," while acts like Black Sabbath, Anthrax, and the Rolling Stones are seen within spitting distance of tracks by Foo Fighters and Third Eye Blind.

With Rock Band 3 taking a super-realistic “learn to play” approach and Guitar Hero charging into metal fantasy and score milking territory, the two titles are finally really diverging. Which is right for you?

Jul 14, 2010


Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at
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