Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s review

Just like the name says, this isn't a full set - but it still shreds

GamesRadar+ Verdict


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    Still incredibly fun

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    The songs you remember

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    Ripping it with Grim


  • -

    Not knowing some tunes

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    Fewer features & less polish

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    Paying full price

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"Do we even need to review this, or can we just slap another 10 on it?" That's the thought that crossed our minds when Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (no apostrophe, dammit - we're all about rebellion, apparently) arrived in our offices. After all, how different could it be? It uses all the same characters, locations, and graphics that Guitar Hero II used - isn't this just more of the same?

Well, yes and no. This is more of the same, sure - so it's basically fantastic. But it's not as much "more" as you might imagine. There are only six playable characters (five normal and one unlockable: the scythe-wielding "Grim Ripper") as opposed to ten in the normal game. And they all have only one outfit: a new, '80s-themed look. You can't buy more in the store. More importantly, this version of the store also fails to stock any new songs, leaving you with just the 30 you'll encounter over the course of the regular career mode.

This leads us to an interesting point: the music here is more diverse and less universal than that of either of the first two Guitar Hero games (you can check it out by goinghereand then clicking "Tracklist"). And if our office is any indication, that makes this a much more polarizing song list than in previous games. Most everyone knows the Go-Gos and Police, but only the office metalhead threw the horns over second-tier headbangers like Dio and Accept, and bands like Oingo Boingo and X are great for new wave and punk devotees, but will leave others cold.

It's all fine music, and these groups were all undeniably successful in their own circles. But the end result is that many players - especially those under the age of 30 - might find a lot of this stuff to be too obscure for their tastes. That's a big concern when you're shelling out $40 or $50 - watch for sales. A few of us also feel that the placement of the gems is slightly less careful than usual, leading to occasional moments where you feel the song is sluggish, or that you're playing the gems, but not the song.

More info

DescriptionAn '80s themed edition to the peripheral-tastic music game reportedly heading to PS2.
US censor rating"Rating Pending"
UK censor rating""
Eric Bratcher
I was the founding Executive Editor/Editor in Chief here at GR, charged with making sure we published great stories every day without burning down the building or getting sued. Which isn't nearly as easy as you might imagine. I don't work for GR any longer, but I still come here - why wouldn't I? It's awesome. I'm a fairly average person who has nursed an above average love of video games since I first played Pong just over 30 years ago. I entered the games journalism world as a freelancer and have since been on staff at the magazines Next Generation and PSM before coming over to GamesRadar. Outside of gaming, I also love music (especially classic metal and hard rock), my lovely wife, my pet pig Bacon, Japanese monster movies, and my dented, now dearly departed '89 Ranger pickup truck. I pray sincerely. I cheer for the Bears, Bulls, and White Sox. And behind Tyler Nagata, I am probably the GR staffer least likely to get arrested... again.