Aside from having stars in its eyes, however, the revamped Quickplay + actually proves to be the game’s most successful “new” feature. Its social sharing tools and persistent online reputation—built through consistent shredding—are legitimately cool. Unfortunately, the 13 ambient challenges it provides for each song are all things we’ve seen before: “Hit a certain number of note-streaks, hammer-ons, chords…” Boring. After a while, they actually start to feel like work.
A totally slammin’ track list might have made the challenges a bit more palatable, but frankly, the song choices are a lot more strange than slammin’. We didn’t particularly care for the bands we’d never heard before and simply couldn’t figure out why certain tracks had been selected for the bands we already knew. Who would honestly pick “The Theme from Spider-Man” as the lone Ramones track? Even more bizarre, the game features quite a few big hits that have been re-recorded by the bands that made them famous in the first place. Why trade the classic recordings that everyone grew up listening to for digital recordings of a group that’s now twenty years past its music-playing prime?
The track list also offers little depth, but this may actually be good news for all the amateur Yngwie Malmsteens out there. The last portion of the game is a gauntlet of fast, riff-heavy metal that’s sure to keep shredders busy for months. We’re a little worried about our friends trying to sing these tracks, but Guitar Hero is clearly just trying to stay true to its roots. And to be fair, many of the note charts that accompany these songs are seriously challenging and a blast to play.
Since Warriors of Rock is still arguably as fun as any previous Guitar Hero, it’s difficult for us to condemn it entirely, especially since most of its new ideas don’t actively make the game worse. But the new ideas, in additional to being patently lame, fail to add anything. As a result, we’re stuck with a stale experience that left us longing for something more…and wondering why anyone still listens to Rush.
Personal aside: Including the famous CBGB venue feels like a desperate grab for legitimacy. Problem is, it doesn’t fit with the Simmons-narrated rock ‘n’ roll fantasy theme at all and therefore comes off as little more than a cynical ploy for street cred. Plus, the game eventually undermines this shameless pandering by having supposed “punk rocker” Johnny Napalm slam a brand-name Coke as he walks through the door in what has to be one of the most oblivious in-game marketing stunts to date. True, none of this affects the quality of the gameplay, but it does make Warriors of Rock very difficult to like if you really care about and follow music.