Guitar Hero: World Tour review

  • Great drum kit, really good guitar
  • Strum notes, slide sections
  • Recording studio
  • Studio powerful, but complicated
  • Multiplayer ends when anyone fails
  • Single player gimmicky, but thin

It looks like competing “tap the buttons as colored gems move across the screen in time with music” games Rock Band and Guitar Hero have started the kind of annual rivalry usually reserved for sports fans. So, despite the fact that the series is still called Guitar Hero, this year’s big innovation is the addition of drummers and singers (and the accompanying $180 bundle pack). It’s tempting to deride the series for copying Rock Band 2, but it’s really just a natural evolution of this genre. Besides, Guitar Hero: World Tour actually trumps RB2 in a few key areas.

The most important difference is obvious after only one song: though you can use your Rock Band 2 gear with no problems, Guitar Hero World Tour has better instruments. The drum kit’s cymbals feel better and the pads sound deeper and feel more substantial. Rock Band 2’s drums have a better kick pedal, but even with its added outboard cymbals, that’s the only advantage it can claim over these beauties.

The guitar is a closer call – it lacks the visual beauty and “pickup selector” sound effects switch of Rock Band 2’s guitar. Plus, the “string” flipper is oddly, at times infuriatingly squeaky. However, the beefier star power button finally has the perfect size and location: at the bridge, where you’re unlikely to hit it by accident but where you can easily punch with your hand without interrupting your stroke. And the addition of a flat, touch-sensitive pad higher up the neck, which enables new in-game moves like faster tapping and slide guitar, seals the deal.

Once you start playing, you’ll find a bare-bones solo career mode. You’re basically a gigger-for-hire answering ads on a bulletin board, which leads to a vast list of celebrity cameos from Sting and Ozzy to Jimi Hendrix and Hayley from Paramore. We appreciated the wide range of difficulty options, though.

Multiplayer modes are pretty robust, with full support for four musicians not only offline, but online – even in full, four-on-four, head-to-head band battles, which Rock Band 2 doesn’t even do.

There are several important differences in the way Guitar Hero: World Tour handles the actual nitty-gritty of playing when compared to Rock Band 2. First is that GHWT has a worse interface – the star/rock meter is shared by all users and stuffed up in a corner, making it hard to tell who’s failing and how much star power is left during multiplayer sessions. It gives you the power to trigger star power in smaller increments and at any time, even as a singer or drummer, which is helpful. On the downside, that shared Rock meter means that if one person fails out, the song is over for everyone. That is not helpful. It is instead annoying as hell.

GHWT creates a greater difference between instruments, too. Guitar players get the touch pad, bass players sometimes strum “open” notes (no buttons), and singers can work the crowd a little more in special moments (though they don’t have Rock Band’s tambourine taps).

However, there’s still something about the actual note charts that doesn’t feel as good as Rock Band 2. Sometimes they just don’t feel as organic, and sometimes they feel like there are extra notes tacked on. It’s hard to put into words, but it feels a little more like a game as opposed to a music simulation. Though esoteric, this is a big deal, and when combined with the poor placement of the star/rock meter and its all-for-one failure condition, reason enough for us to still give Rock Band 2 the overall edge in gameplay.

One thing Guitar Hero World Tour has all to itself is the recording studio (Rock Revolution’s doesn’t count), which enables a devoted user to create his or her own songs and upload/download them via the ol’ webtubes. It’s very robust, though there are two big let-downs. One: you can’t record vocals. Just bass, drums, and guitar. Two: The other side of it being impressively powerful is that it’s also incredibly complex. This is basically a Pro-Tools setup, which you’re trying to control with a toy instrument. There’s a nice tutorial, but you’re still going to need a lot of time and patience to get decent results.

So, is Guitar Hero World Tour better than Rock Band 2? Not quite. Yes, the instruments are superior, and we love four-on-four online matches, varied tweaks to each instrument’s parts, character customization, and build-your-own-guitar options. But, we just don’t get as much out of the music editor as one would hope, and Rock Band 2’s better note maps, smarter interface and more musical “feel” resonate more with us.

Nov 10, 2008

More Info

Release date: Oct 28 2008 - Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Nov 14 2008 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, Wii, PS2, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Other Games/Compilations
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Vicarious Visions, Neversoft, Budcat Creations
Franchise: Guitar Hero
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes
PEGI Rating:


  • Escalade213 - November 26, 2008 10:03 a.m.

    I only played the guitar career and it was the most boring thing that I ever did... Personally I found that the track list sucked some really fierce ass except for a few and I really mean a few 5 or 6 PERSONALLY I didn't play any other instrument because I was so bored of it the first time through and it was way too easy I beat the game in 2 days on Expert 5 starred everything except the last gig
  • crouse21894 - November 16, 2008 7:08 p.m.

    I know I'm gonna contradict everyone here, but I honestly think GHWT beat RockBand by a long shot. Guitar Hero actually has big names in music that you can play as on the game, along with the RockStar Creator, and I've always liked the Guitar Hero guitars better than RockBand's. There's more to do on Guitar Hero games than just play the songs.
  • nicrosoft15 - November 11, 2008 2:55 a.m.

    Heh, ya that's kinda' what I already figured...(RB2>GHWT) but seeing as my choice will be for Wii, I'm still gonna' have to go for GHWT. P.S. Why the heck did it take so freakin' long for GamesRadar to get a review for this?!?!?! Seriously.... "Your pony died because it wasn't pretty enough" AUGH...AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!
  • LordRevan111 - November 10, 2008 11:45 p.m.

    My first first! Heh, i'm still for Rock Band 2
  • R38P3R - December 7, 2008 5:29 a.m.

    im only taking this over RB2 because this one has Linkin Park.
  • meluigi - December 6, 2008 6:11 a.m.

    man this game looks better than RB2
  • Defguru7777 - November 16, 2008 11:43 p.m.

    At least Guitar Hero is innovating itself.
  • Coolbeans69 - November 15, 2008 9:22 p.m.

    Go rb2!
  • Spartan523 - November 15, 2008 4:48 a.m.

    I'm sorry and i know im gonna regret this once the fan boy flames ignite, but who the hell can spend $180 on one game not counting if you get RB2 or not, I like music games as much as the next gamer but really how can people pay $180 on one game when for that money you can get Fallout 3, Gears 2, and COD:WAW i just dont get it
  • SilverWerewolf - November 13, 2008 9:03 p.m.

    Even though the Guitar Hero songs are custom creations, I like playing them more than any of the free songs on Rock Band 2. Bring in The Alkaline Trio.
  • TrIp13G - November 12, 2008 6:17 a.m.

    Aren't you thinking of Harmonix and Rock Band 2's 20 free songs?
  • SilverWerewolf - November 11, 2008 10:19 p.m.

    I'm really glad this game turned out so well. The tracklist had more music I can have fun singing to, and Neversoft has already given us 360 owners 20+ FREE songs out of the gate. Granted, most are custom creations, but Electro Rock and Ted Nugent's Guitar Duel are awesome.
  • Kerfluffle - November 11, 2008 4:44 a.m.

    Yeah, I knew It'd be close. I will probably end up buying Rock Band 2, seeing as my friend is a devoted Guitar Hero fan. Let's just see if I can scrape together enough money first...
  • Hayseyboy - January 6, 2009 9:32 p.m.

    i think GH has some decent tracks on it, and because ive seen rb2 im sort of glad i got GH instead
  • oreomonkey - December 27, 2008 1:41 a.m.

  • Finklemeyer - April 2, 2009 5:49 a.m.

    I dont see what all the argument is about. Its obvious that both games are better in certain aspects and which one you choose should be based on how you intend to play it.
  • WBxRelentless - March 26, 2009 3:35 a.m.

    rock band blowsss.. GH:WT is amazing.. a game i will be playing for a long time. =] 9/10
  • gamer49 - January 11, 2009 10:46 p.m.

    realy fun game and there are more stuff to do. and it also has michael jackson as one of the songs.
  • R38P3R - January 4, 2009 1:59 a.m.

    ignore my last comment. RB2 has Linkin Park too. but too late to reconsider now.

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