While there's a fat “five” tagged to the name of this game, by no stretch of the imagination is this only the fifth Guitar Hero game to hit the market. Ignoring the mobile and handheld spin-offs, prior to Guitar Hero 5 there have been eight Guitar Hero games on consoles -- three developed by Harmonix and four headed by the team at Neversoft.
More after the jump.
Guitar Hero 5 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Among this year's Guitar Hero 5 “innovations” (that's the marketing buzz word for “neat new features”) is the ability to play with up to four players using any combination of instruments. These means four drummers or four singers, two guitarists with one singer and a drummer, three bassists and a vocalist... you get the idea. This option is available and open in all modes, and while it doesn't always make sense in terms of “band play,” it's a welcome freedom. Four drum sets being pounded on at once? Your neighbors simply won't know what hit them.
Unfortunately, the principal problem with band play is that the game's heads-up display is simply too crowded and far too perplexing. Particularly with the option to play with four note lanes across the screen (one per instrument), things get out of hand. Your eyes have to dart all over the screen to keep up with things like how much Star Power you have, your multiplier, or even how well you're doing. There's just too much information on the screen in too many places. It's all a bit exhausting (and irritating) to keep up with, and while it doesn't completely ruin the experience, it's certainly not ideal.
On the competitive side of things, Guitar Hero 5 really delivers with six different multiplayer modes available at your disposal, including some for up to four players. One example, “Momentum,” is particularly fun -- song charts get more difficult the better you do, or easier if you're dropping the ball. When it comes to competitive play, Guitar Hero 5 is king -- Neversoft obviously focused on fun and varied multiplayer choices, and they succeed quite well.
As far as how the songs play, it's a mixed and sometimes frustrating bag. The problem isn't so much the charting of the individual instruments -- most parts feel and “play” like their real life counterparts, although the vocal difficulty seems a bit off-the-wall. (We had Shirley Manson* come by to sing “Only Happy When It Rains” on Medium and she got an 89%, for instance.) The issue is more what parts Neversoft chose to chart for many of the songs.
* Not the real Shirley Manson, but it was a red-headed Scottish woman.
Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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