Guitar Hero World Tour

We’re going to party like it’s 1984. With Guitar Hero World Tour, the latest all-singing, all finger-tapping edition of the Guitar Hero franchise aims to deliver the party vibe. This year’s game is about the social experience of joining together to rock… so let’s jump! Why the Van Halen references? Because they’re just one of the new bands confirmed as exclusive to Guitar Hero World Tour; others include The Eagles, Linkin Park and Irish Eighties post-punks The Answer. There’s also a strong, and so far un-denied, rumour that Metallica will be headlining Activision’s winter gig.

Above: All images are from the PS3 version

But while you dig out the spandex and hair spray and prepare to get your party frock on, there’s more to Guitar Hero World Tour than a new bunch of tracks (although that new bunch of tracks is going to be in the hundreds). As with Rock Band, World Tour will feature drums and a microphone along with a new guitar being developed by the original fret peripheral manufacturer’s RedOctane. Unlike Rock Band, you will be able to use your old guitars as well as any microphone and the game will be sold separately without the gadgets for those old sods who just want to rock old-school, legs akimbo, hair in the air and Sir Edward Van Halen blaring from the TV.

If you want to get the most from World Tour you will need to spend the cash (less than Rock Band, we’re told) on the full drums-and-all package. There will be a Band Career mode as well as a Bass Career mode to entice teams of players to group together and play through the game, performing online to boost stats and become the world’s best band. It’s worth noting too that the drums are an improvement on Rock Band’s coconut-clapping toy kit. These drums have been created from the remnants of a real digital drum kit. It was taken apart and rebuilt to work with World Tour and comes with two cymbal pads while every main drum pad is covered in thick rubber to dampen noise. The kit even features unique drum sounds when hit – the harder you pound, the louder it becomes.

We were dragged into a room recently and shown the package in action, with staff from NeverSoft performing secret songs from the game. The drum kit in particular looked more fun and realistic than Rock Band’s. Every note in the song needs to be played to score, just like in real life. This neatly ties into the introduction of hip-hop and dance music to the previously thoroughbred rock-only playlist. Bedroom rappers and armchair guitar heroes unite! The big arrival that glues all this together though is the new Music Studio mode. Here you’ll be able to either record over songs on the game, developing the lines of coloured notes into intricate patterns to challenge friends too, or even create your own tracks from scratch.

The guy behind the Music Studio, Travis Chan – a one time hacker now hired by NeverSoft – demoed the tools to us and we were pretty gob-smacked.
Firstly, the Music Studio uses the guitar peripheral to navigate the various menus, illustrating that it’s pretty simple. He then went on to record a raggety version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in under five minutes, riffs, drums, bass and all. Various menus enabled Travis to select timing, guitar sound (acoustic, thrash, etc.) and even set markers to drop in guitar solos later or tell the game when to activate special effects (as well as the track you can use to create gig events).

Finally, we were demoed a complete track, a version of “Iron Man”, all recorded in a couple of hours and perfectly recognisable as the Sabbath classic. It will take time to master the delicate intricacies of the Music Studio, but budding Mick Ronsons will pick-up the basics in hours. The scope for Music Studio is what’s so exciting about Guitar Hero World Tour. Every track made in the game will be uploaded to the GHTunes website, iTunes for GH players, where anyone with the game can download them, rate them and send feedback. It sounds too good to be true. Luckily for us, it’s both. Activision will be monitoring the site and highlighting the best songs as they are uploaded – creating an up-to-date download chart, showcasing all the songs from one outstanding gamer or flagging up must-have star tunes. It’s one party we all need an invite to.

Jun 30, 2008

Ian Dean

Imagine FX and Creative Bloq editor Ian Dean is an expert on all things digital arts. Formerly the editor of Official PlayStation Magazine, PLAY Magazine, 3D World, XMB, X360, and PlayStation World, he’s no stranger to gaming, either. He’ll happily debate you for hours over the virtues of Days Gone, then settle the argument on the pitch over a game of PES (pausing frequently while he cooks a roast dinner in the background). Just don’t call it eFootball, or it might bring tears to his eyes for the ISS glory days on PS1.