The first Guitar Hero, released in late 2005, came with a toy guitar and allowed players to jam along to their favourite rock songs. Fast forward four years and almost a dozen spinoffs later. We now have Guitar Hero 5, with more songs, new ways to play, and a ton of little improvements. But is it worth dusting off your old gear, calling up your buddies and getting the band back together?
In Guitar Hero 5 you pick an instrument, select some classic or not so classic rock songs, and play along. You do this by pressing the coloured notes in time with the music as they scroll down the screen. Whether you’re playing lead guitar, nailing an awesome bass line, killing a drum solo, or singing to the oldies, the game can be made as easy or as challenging as you need it to be. The 85-song soundtrack spans decades and genres from The Rolling Stones to Stevie Wonder, Elton John to The Police, and up to more recent acts like No Doubt and Coldplay.
You can pick any song from the get go in Quickplay mode or let the Party Play mode pick one at random and rock out to your heart’s content. You can also make a band and tour the world in Career mode. Progress through your career and unlock new locations, clothes for your rock stars, and characters like Carlos Santana or Shirley Manson of Garbage. However, the inclusion of the likenesses of Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain is disingenuous and shallow considering their history in the music industry. Additionally, all these modes and the various competitive multi-player modes can be taken online for a virtual battle of the bands.
The overall presentation is second to none. The character models animate beautifully, and the lip synching is spot on no matter what they are singing. The stages you perform on are unique and inventive. You start at a grimy New York subway, find your way to a bazaar in Cairo, come full circle performing under the Golden Gate Bridge, and visit every place in between. Each location has its own look and feel with superb lighting effects and detailed set pieces. Too bad the screaming fans look stiff and lifeless no matter how hard you’re rocking. At least their cheering sounds good, and so does each song’s multi track master recording.
If you are looking for a great party game, and are tired of the same old karaoke, give Guitar Hero 5 a try. With all its improvements, it’s easily the best in the series.
Go to YouTube for a video of Marvin playing Guitar Hero 5.