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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock – Band Bundle

by matt

In 2006, analog sticks and shoulder buttons gave way to fret boards and whammy bars when Activision unleashed the Guitar Hero franchise onto the video game scene. Whether it be the adolescent perfectionist in the confines of his dark bedroom looking to secure face-melting 100% accuracy on Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell” or the raucous atmosphere of a college party in which blurry-eyed freshmen bob their heads along with ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man,” Guitar Hero allowed gamers to throw their caution and petty differences into an ocean of rock fans blanketing a virtual arena as they rocked along one sizzling riff at a time. Four years and 16 titles later, the Guitar Hero franchise finds itself up against Electronic Arts’ behemoth Rock Band in a market where the term “over saturation” is the elephant in the room. Does Activision’s latest offering, Warriors of Rock, give the franchise a chance to fight another day, or is it time for a farewell tour?

At first glance, the gamer immediately notices that Warriors of Rock takes a specifically thematic approach to its presentation. Players are invited to “join the quest to save rock,” and along with their band mates, embark on a quest-driven campaign from smoky bars to fiery mythical chasms, overcoming various challenges and unlocking characters. The narration of KISS’ Gene Simmons accompanies a 90-song spectrum ranging from catchy pop hits to skull-rattling metal cuts. The decision to design an epic, fantastical campaign is an admirable one, as such themes tap into the guitar-driven spirit that gave the Guitar Hero franchise its fame. However, when crafting such a specifically-themed experience, it is critical that the song selections evoke that same spirit. A headless, Jack Skellington-esque rocker strumming along to R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” unfortunately creates a disjointed experience, and Gene Simmons’ lackluster narration does little to remedy numerous occasions in which Tim Burton clashes with dentist office ambience to produce “The Osbournes Attend the Church Picnic.” Nevertheless, a story-driven campaign plays little part in blemishing the collaborative spirit that this franchise has striven to create, and in that sense, this title holds on strong.

Warriors of Rock is offered in a variety of bundles, ranging from the full package of guitar, drums, and microphone, to the game disc by itself, for those seasoned veterans who at this point weather a sea of plastic instruments in their living room. The look and feel of these instruments shows that Activision has come to a comfortable point of solid build quality. However, an arduous calibration process lengthened the game setup and frayed the player’s nerves before the first notes were played. Fortunately, these setbacks were only momentary, and upon enlisting a partner in several rounds of the game’s variety of multiplayer modes, a band of friends can quickly become awash in the enigmatic riffs and collaborative bliss of what makes Guitar Hero stand the test of time.

In just four short years, the Guitar Hero franchise has traveled an epic journey, similar to that which Warriors of Rock attempts to create. Throughout that period, they have enlisted the music industry’s top talent and have pushed the rhythm game formula to its limits to combat the advances of their competition in a market whose thirst for these games is quickly becoming quenched. Despite a campaign that is, at times, a victim of its own conflict of themes, this game shines with its buffet of multiplayer options. Do these Warriors of Rock live to fight another day? For now, they do, but these warriors are fighting an uphill battle.

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