Guitar Hero 5 Review

on September 9, 2009 11:00 AM

Wow we are already up to Guitar Hero 5, that was quick, seems like just yesterday I was becoming obsessed with playing a plastic guitar and cursing at the screen as my hands cramped up. So much has changed yet stayed the same from that first iteration, now you can play the drums, sing, use your Avatar or Mii, download tons of songs and even make your own tracks, but you still get hand cramps if you play long enough. What does Guitar Hero 5 bring to the table that all the other iterations have not yet aside from a giant lineup of 85 songs by 83 artists? Quite simply put, Party Play and accessibility.

Guitar Hero has a huge selection of music once you open up the game, but you can easily add on to that by importing songs from Guitar Hero World Tour and Guitar Hero Smash Hits. The songs spread across a few different genres and bands so expect to hear things form Du Hast by Rammstein to Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash. The music is almost too broad at times and you will inevitably want to skip some songs because they are just out of what you would normally listen to, but having options is always great. Guitar hero 5 really focuses on customization of all types like making your own drum set, decking out your rocker, making your own music and even hosting your own party. This iteration of Guitar Hero is aimed to streamline the game and give you lots of extras.

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The core of the game is the same as its predecessors, you play notes that fly by the screen at lightning speeds but it has been tweaked to allow for more accessibility. Now you can play any combination of four instruments, i.e. 4 guitars, 2 guitars + 2 vocals, 1 of each, etc. This is an awesome feature if you ask me so that way people don’t fight over playing the guitar or can put to use the vast collection of plastic replica axes they have littering their houses. This feature also makes finding bands online a much easier task, as before typically you were always waiting around to find a drummer or vocalist, now you can fill those spots quickly and play with a different style band. You can also hold some pretty cool in game competitions if you want to see who the best guitarist is between yourself and three friends.

The biggest difference in this game is that right from the load screen you can start playing in what is dubbed Party Play. In Party Play people can drop in and out and easily pick their instrument and difficulty at ease without interrupting whoever is already rocking out. Also a nice change is that now the menus are friendlier, you can easily switch from career, to online battle and change instruments all on the fly. Party Play serves as a jukebox of sorts and you can even just set up the game and have it run on the title screen in order to listen to all the different tracks and watch your band rock out without even playing.

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The career mode is very entertaining and will have you playing through different venues until you reach the second to last track by Rush to beat the game. You can play online or offline career mode with each carrying over and saving. One difference in career mode is that you no longer gain cash for playing through your songs but instead gain stars, up to 8 stars per song to be exact. 5 Stars are given out if you perform the song well, but an additional set of stars is granted if you perform Bonus Challenges on a song, like a certain note streak with a guitar or HOPOs or achieving a group score in star power mode. Playing through the career will unlock different items for your created rocker as well as unlock certain all-star rockers like Nirvana front man or Johnny Cash himself, which you can then use online.

You also still have Quickplay options , training, leaderboards and all the standard fan fair of a GH game. There are some additions to the GHStudio in GHJam, GHMix and GHTunes again just adding to the flexibility and creativity of the player. You can also now rock out with your Avatar on your Xbox 360 or your Mii on your Wii. I have to admit that playing as my Avatar was probably my favorite thing to do in the game as my Avatar is a cartoon version of myself right down to his Nike Air Jordan replicas. Finally there is a use for my Avatar that I made so long ago also for the newly released items and clothing for the Avatar’s. It is quite comical to be rocking out with someone wearing a Storm Trooper mask or a Gears of War outfit.

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Competition is still in there as well and you can battle via RockFest mode in the following:

• Momentum: Songs get more difficult or easier on the fly depending on player performance.
• Perfectionist: Rewards players with the highest percentage at the end of each song section.
• Elimination: Players are eliminated throughout a song based on their performance in each segment and the last man standing wins!
• Do-or-Die: Missing any three notes for a song section temporarily knocks players out of the game and keeps them from scoring.
• Streakers: Players are awarded points for each note streak in multiples of 10.
• Pro Face Off: Head-to-head battle where players all play the same song on the same difficulty with the same instrument.

If I had to sum up Guitar Hero 5 in a few words it is a fun party game that is easy enough for everyone to pick up and enjoy by stripping away any previous limitations. Good fun for any gamer that is a fan of the series or just picking it up for the first time.

Developer: Neversoft Entertainment (Xbox 360 and PS3)
Vicarious Visions (Wii)
Budcat (PS2)
Publisher: Activision Publishing, Inc./RedOctane
MSRP: $59.99
Release Date: 9/2/2009

 /  Co-Founder
Al has been gaming as long as he can remember and will continue to game until his fingers break off or video games cease to exist. A New York native born and raised he crashed into the gaming journalism scene in 2006. Since then he has become the on air personality for DSTV and loves every second of cursing while interviewing developers about serious topics. Aside from being a gamer he also has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering that does not help in the gaming world but does provide for fun stories when people say "what?".Favorite games: Contra (NES), Mega Man II (NES) and Final Fantasy III (SNES)