Are yearly updates really worth it?

We can just about understand the way things used to be. When games came on cartridges, the only way you could play a sports game with the correct player names was to either type them all in yourself (which took hours), or buy the newest licensed version. But things have changed.

The advent of DLC has meant that all games could, in theory, be updated via a patch downloaded from the internet. This could either be for free (like many elements of the vastly expanded Burnout Paradise), or paid for (like Pain). This could even help the game manufacturers make better games, as they could spend two years making each proper new version, tiding over their loyal fans with a simple update in the meantime.

But alas, we still get full-price yearly updates with very little truly new content, to the point of nausea. So let's cut through the PR hype and take a look at the kind of updates we're getting right now and whether yearly updates are worth the effort - and the cash.

Oh God, where are we with this one? Guitar Hero 6? 7? 67?OK, well let's put aside the 'Smash Hits' re-release and look at the differences between the last two major iterations, Guitar Hero: World Tour and Guitar Hero 5.

Biggest changes over last year:

- Party mode
- Play with multiples of the same instrument
- Playset list straight off without unlocking songs

The most welcome feature is Party mode. You can drop in and out without failing the song for everyone else, leaving the game to play music in the background when nobody's at the controls.

But how, exactly, was any of this impossible to do with a patch via DLC?And a party mode isnothing compared to the old days where we got genuine progress like in Guitar Hero III where we gotbreast physics for Judy Nails:

Overall,the series hascome a long way since its revolutionary debut on PS2 in 2005. We've seen cover artists dropped in favour of master recordings (and special re-recordings by some artists like the Sex Pistols), the addition of custom soundtracks, online play and 'me-too' addition of drums and vocals. That's about as far as you can take the genre on current tech. Now we've got it, all we need is DLC. Thank you very much.

Worth the upgrade? What, to Guitar Hero Smash Hits? Where you get to pay full price to play old songs you already have? No way.

On the next page: Call of Duty...

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.