Last Minute Preview: Saturday night's alright (for playing Guitar Hero).
It wasn't that long ago that the idea of using a plastic guitar to play a video game was a foreign concept. I don't think that anyone could have predicted that the music game genre would catch fire the way it has. I mean, the top two franchises in the genre are onto a cycle of annual releases and weekly releases of downloadable content. Now it is a game of one-upping each other, with feature sets and set lists expanding exponentially. So what is it that Guitar Hero 5 will bring to the table when it is released tomorrow?
The bulk of the new features that Guitar Hero 5 is introducing into the mix revolve around improving and varying the multiplayer experience. Not the multiplayer career, mind you. Rather, they are changing the way that you can (and will) play with your friends when a group comes over on Saturday night. First and foremost, you and your friends will not be limited to the guitar-bass-drums-vocals formula that we've become accustomed to. Each player can select their own instrument this time around. Everyone want to play guitar? They can. No one has to, ?take one for the group,? and sing when they don't feel comfortable with doing so. You and your friends can also jump in and out of the new Play Party mode on the fly, meaning that you don't have to back out to the main menu in order to change your band lineup. In short, Guitar Hero is becoming more party-friendly then it already was.
Of course, features are only one part of why we play music games, right? Really it all comes down to the music set list. It is nice to know that Guitar Hero 5 isn't skimping here, either. GH5 has put together a very well-balanced set list that represents the classics, 90's rock, and current radio hits. Some, like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, are new to the music-game genre and others, like Weezer and The Killers, have been involved with projects in the past. There are also some unexpected tracks packed into the game. I love that Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" have been picked up and included. It shows that Activision is thinking out of the box when putting these games together.
Now, Rock Band upped the ante with the ability to import most of the original game's songs into the sequel. This time around, Guitar Hero is taking the same approach. GH5 players will be able to import their downloadable content from Guitar Hero World Tour into their GH5 set list, as well as some on-disc content from both GHWT and Guitar Hero Smash Hits. If that isn't enough, there is also an added bonus for those that pre-order the game: A free copy of Guitar Hero Van Halen. There is a special redemption offer on the Guitar Hero website to have it sent for free, as long as you apply for your copy by the first of October.
There are some interesting console specific features for those of you that plan to play the game on the Wii or the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 version will let you play any mode in the game using your Xbox avatar. The Wii will allow similar functionality for your Mii in a special freestyle mode and will also introduce a new gameplay mode, Roadie Battle, that will allow you to connect a Nintendo DS to your Wii and use it to sabotage and repair equipment while your friends play a head-to-head game.