“Guitar Hero IV: World Tour” – a tour de force

 

By: Kate Firestone

It has been a good two weeks since the newest installment to the Guitar Hero saga, “Guitar Hero: World Tour” was released, and the question on everyone’s mind is this: Why hasn’t anyone covered that shit?  The answer is simple: there are absolutely way too many epic features in the game to fit into a single review.

Regardless, here are the main things you need to know in order to get your rock on:

First and foremost, the concept of “World Tour” is completely different from the past games, in that it is designed to accommodate multiple players as a band.  That means that there’s a lead guitar, bass, singer and drummer.

Upon first delving into your player pack, you will discover that a few changes have been made to the neck of the guitar, the most obvious being the touch-pad.  This is for those tricky solos, and only requires players to slide their fingers to the appropriate color bar to hit the notes in some songs, like “Love Spreads” by The Stone Roses.  The touch-pad allows for a more accurate performance, and mimics the style of a real solo, as it’s closer to the body of the guitar than the basic frets.

Next, there is the bass, and to get you excited, I’ll let you in on a little secret: bass is fun this time around. The makers installed some purple bars that appear on your highway and they indicate a sort of slap.  All you have to do is strum without pressing down on any of the fret buttons.  Usually, these bars go with the rhythm of the song and are pretty easy (not to mention fun) to nail.  If you have any old controllers lying around, you can use them, or you can buy a revamped bass with a touch-pad.  Either way, it gets the job done.

Guitar and bass are all very fine, but the definite star of the new features is the drum set.  It is set up in a kind of tier-like fashion, with the orange and yellow ‘cymbals’ elevated above the red, green and blue drum pads.  In comparison to the “Rock Band” set up, “World Tour” beats them out with a more efficient bass pedal and overall more thrilling experience.  Even if you lose your place, it’s much easier to get your rhythm back this time around.

And of course, there’s the singing component to “World Tour” that serves to complete the full experience. The microphone is simple, but the singing itself is a different story.  It is way more precise, even in medium, and those who found themselves to be stellar vocalists on “Rock Band” might be knocked off their pedestals if they try to tackle the same difficulty in “World Tour.”  You see, not only do they have to really control their voices, but they also have to choose between a static or scrolling display for the lyrics, both of which present themselves as somewhat messy and hard to follow.

Aside from all the new and exciting instruments, “World Tour” has even made it possible to create your own character.  You can adjust the face size, jaw angle, eye distance, height, physique and yes, you can pick the clothing.  There is a wealth of styles to choose from, too, including punk, metal, goth, pop, etc, and players can decide everything from their character’s name, to their hair, to their piercings, pants and shoes.

Players can even customize their instruments and stage presence!  If you want a zebra-skinned trap set with a spiffy ace of spades logo on the front, then it’s yours.  If you want a neon-colored mic sand, a widower guitar body, or even if you want your character to do the robot when they go out on stage, then that’s yours as well.  The possibilities are endless.

And while the game does a great job at catering to your vanity, it also achieves a similar level of greatness as far as play goes.  The gigs are bigger and better, with crystal-clear graphics and awesomely aesthetic backdrops such as Times Square on New Years Eve, a gothic church, a frat house, and many, many more impeccably designed venues.

Certain celebrities such as Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Corgan and Zakk Wylde make special appearances whenever the songs “Crazy Train,” “Today” and “Stillborn” are played.

And just like the past games are famous for, “World Tour” doesn’t skimp on the diversity of their songs. They have the oldies hit “La Bamba” by Los Lobos on there right next to hard rock hits like “Trapped Under Ice” by Metallica and “Freak on a Leash” by Korn, and punk songs like “Soul Doubt” by NOFX and “Dammit” by Blink 182.  Oh, and did I mention they have “Santeria” on there by Sublime?  With more bands like Modest Mouse, The Eagles, Silversun Pickups, System of a Down and The Mars Volta, there’s something on there for everyone to enjoy.

So, if you haven’t already become a part of the craze, then get out there and rock the world.  I promise you won’t be disappointed in the least.

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