Now in its 6th iteration what can Activision do to keep their genre leading title fresh and at the top of the guitar-sim pops? They can throw a whole load of new features and a re-imagined single player mode into the mix, that's how.
The main change from Guitar Hero 5 is the replacement of the standard 'career mode' with a new 'quest mode' that sees characters from the previous games (Judy Nails, Johnny Napalm et al) playing gigs in order to unlock stars that allow them to transform into upgraded warrior versions of themselves in order to join the fight against an evil menace. The plot is animated through bizarre cut-scenes and voiced by Gene Simmons from KISS (for extra rock cred). It's all very tongue in cheek and doesn't take itself too seriously which is just as well as 'quest mode' is really just an excuse to play through themed set lists, just as in previous versions. Having said that, each rocker now comes with individual rock star abilities which allow them more star earning potential, such as earning more star power bonuses for streaks of notes or starting off with the rock meter safely nestled in the green.
A great new feature is the inclusion of roadie play allowing friends with a Nintendo DS the ability to play along and support those on stage without brandishing an instrument themselves. Taking the form of various mini games, roadies complete gig based tasks such as wiring speakers and tuning guitars to generate bonuses and score multipliers for those on stage. Its' a nice novelty and a good way of getting people involved when there aren't enough guitars to go round or for younger children who want to get involved but struggle with the full instruments. The mini games however don't pose any real challenge and the life of a roadie is pretty dull compared to that of a rock star, just like in real life then.
New features aside, it's the songs that are really at the heart of every Guitar Hero. Coming in at 90 plus songs, ranging from classic anthems to modern day pop and metal, the song list is as full and comprehensive as ever. A good mix of genres ensures that there is at least a few sings to everyone's tastes and the sheer size of it means that you'll never be stuck for what to play next. The new guitar is great as well. Although I imagine most people will be buying Warriors of Rock as a standalone disc thanks to the fact that most fans of the now well established series will most likely already own at least one guitar, but this is a shame as the new one is the best and most dangerous looking axe yet. With detachable sides it really is an awesome thing to hold and wave around in full rock posture mode.
The reappearance of 'Party mode', where songs play continuously and players can jump in or out with any instrument, at any difficulty level and at any time, is still the best way of playing Guitar Hero in a party environment. Without the fear of failing or interrupting a song and without the arguments associated with deciding what to play, it is the perfect thing for Guitar Hero parties where it can all just be left set up and people can dip in and out whenever they feel like it.
With a bold new visual design, a good collection of tunes and a load of new features, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock manages to take the winning core gameplay of the series and add a fresh feel to it. New game modes and the ever popular party mode make it the most inclusive instalment yet. This coupled with online play and a massive library of tunes means that wannabe rock stars will be kept happy for a long time to come. More than just an add-on or spin-off, Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock is a fully fledged, feature packed update to the rock-sim genre, and the new guitar really does look amazing.
8 out of 10