GUITAR HERO WORLD TOUR Nintendo Wii Video Game Review

     November 14, 2008

Reviewed by Ben Begley

The origins:

For those of you who may not be gamers or are just die hard retro game fans (still playing Super Mario Bros. 3 and nothing since, which is no crime by the way) here is a little run down on what “Guitar Hero World Tour” is all about. Flashback to 2005 when the first “Guitar Hero” game came out for the Playstation 2 and revolutionized the world of gaming peripherals. This was the first time in the comfort of your own home you could play a rhythm based game, but instead of having a dance pad (DDR fans) or just using the controller (Parappa the Rapper), now there was an actual full size guitar controller that you could shred with. So for those of us who always wanted to be rock stars but were too lazy to learn actual chords or just had really low pain thresholds and didn’t like calluses from the steel strings, now we too could unleash our inner rocker… in our living rooms.

The original game set up is that you pick from a list of 30 rocking tunes, including Smoke on the Water and Iron Man, and jam out with your guitar controller. The screen has a fret board running across the middle where different colored icons scroll from the top to the bottom, your goal is to hit the corresponding color on the guitar on the correct beat in the song. The difficulty on this game ranges from Easy (for people brand new and rhythmically challenged) to Expert (reserved mainly for Japanese kids on YouTube and 13 year olds with no jobs or real responsibilities). I picked this game up immediately and my face was rocked off! I had never played anything so fun and with the moderation in difficulty level all my friends and family joined in. It was a great equalizer among gamers and non-gamers alike; everyone loved “Guitar Hero.” So of course two sequels and a couple spin-offs have followed, doing what most game sequels do adding more bells and whistles such as making the guitar wireless and improving the two player mode to involve guitar battles and guitar/bass co-op play. Then a nemesis to “Guitar Hero” came along and threatened the series’ standing in the rocking community and that nemesis has a name… “Rock Band.”

“Rock Band” took the idea of “Guitar Hero” and added a drum set and microphone to it, so that you could literally become what the title implies, a full rock band. (On a side note, the first day I played the original “Guitar Hero” I said out loud how cool it would be if they made a game with an entire band set-up. I have witnesses and think I should be given some royalties.) “Rock Band” took the music game concept to a whole new level and made my “Guitar Hero” games collect a heck of a lot of dust, because to be honest drums are just too much damn fun. But now “Guitar Hero” has answered the “Rock Band” challenge and they have unleashed their own rock n’ roll dream pack and it is ready to blow your mind on the Nintendo Wii (PS3 and 360 as well).

The game:

“Guitar Hero World Tour” is set up like “Rock Band” with a microphone, guitar, drum kit, and the game itself that has around 100 kick ass songs. Each instrument has a little bit more flare with this game then “Rock Band.” The microphone is the same; you can’t do much to snazzy up a microphone. However, the guitar instead of just having two sets of buttons on the fret, has a touch pad with the corresponding colors to allow for some serious shredding and sliding up and down the fret during solos. It’s cool, but I have no preference, buttons or touch pad I can rock out either way. For those who really want the freedom to slide instead of just press, this is a good little bonus.

The drum kit is probably what you’ve heard everyone talking about. With “Rock Band” the drums are set up with four drum pads and a kick pedal that attaches to the bottom, already awesome, but “Guitar Hero World Tour” goes a step further and makes it three drum pads and two high hats along with a more mobile kick pedal. I will admit that I was a little intimidated by the high hats at first, but once I started playing they are incorporated very well into the game and the transition between peripherals is almost seamless (or I’m just awesome, not really I fail on anything past medium). My concern, and I’ve read more people with the same issue, is the strength of the two poles the high hats are attached to. I’ve read several complaints of broken high hats online and heard of a decent amount breaking, so far mine’s all good so I can’t speak from direct experience with that. I love “Rock Band’s” drum set, but I have to admit it is pretty damn cool to be able to rock the symbols, it gives it the right little tweak to make you feel even more like you’re actually rocking instead of just playing a video game, so much kudos on that Activision.

The actual in game screens are almost the same set-up as the other “Guitar Hero” games and “Rock Band.” It’s a fret board with notes that come across that you hit, while your band rocks out behind it. I will admit that the character graphics aren’t as crisp on this version as “Rock Band 2,” but this could also be an unfair statement because I’m judging a Wii game versus the High Def of “Rock Band 2” on PS3. I won’t completely knock the graphics, but they are a little choppy and mannequin looking, this doesn’t detract too much from gameplay because you’re watching the colored notes not the band so who really cares? I prefer “Rock Band 2” and how they designed the fret board that you are playing on with more simplicity, “Guitar Hero World Tour” has more bells and whistles and icons and images that seem to distract rather than make it cool. When lightning strikes my note because I hit a 50 streak during “Hotel California” it feels a little out of place. There’s just a little too much going on even for my MTV generation, possible A.D.D. brain (aren’t we all A.D.D. to some extent?).

In career mode you rock out through several gigs, which is cool, but I wish you could progress by playing solo songs as well instead of the entire gig. It also kind of sucks that you have to have a Wii remote for every instrument you want to play in the band, even the microphone. If you’re one of those people, like me, who has been too cheap to drop 40 bones on another remote because your friends always flake and it’s not worth the investment you’re going to have to buckle down and get at least two more.

I really wish that you could just hook up the guitar to the Wii and have a wireless sensor somehow instead of the Wii remote, but alas the system is set up a certain way and there is nothing to be done, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. Another issue I have with career mode, since I’m cheap and have been playing the game mainly one instrument at a time, is that the songs you beat only count toward whatever instrument you’re playing. In “Rock Band 2” if I wanted to pick up where I left off with my three buddies, but it’s just the me, myself and some drums I can still continue that career and progress through the game unlocking new songs. In “Guitar Hero World Tour” you can play as a group or each instrument has their own path, which is kind of annoying when you have to beat the same songs on different instruments to continue on and unlock new songs.

That’s pretty much all I have to gripe about the main game, the songs at least from my initial impression seem just as good and maybe even better than “Rock Band 2.” I’m not super far in “Rock Band 2,” but some of the starter bands are Lit, and other nonsense. While “Guitar Hero World Tour” just comes out the gates running with awesome track after awesome track, including so far my favorites: Love me Two Times- The Doors, The One I Love- REM, Hendrix is a little later on in the game and a crap ton more. I think I read something about 16 songs that both games have in common, off the bat I noticed Eye of the Tiger, Living on a Prayer, and One Way or Another. “Rock Band 2” teases you with a good song and then a kind of crappy pop one, “Guitar Hero” has almost non-stop awesomeness in music selection. To be fair “Rock Band 2” is amazing and I think the idea was to cover a bunch of genres and eras of rock music, even some that die hard classic rock fans like me would barely deem rock music (once again I mention Lit). So “Rock Band 2” is more like an alternative radio station that plays the hits of the 70’s through today, while “Guitar Hero” lives more in the realm of everything your dad still has on vinyl in the garage and would be played on classic rock radio station.

Game Modes:


Go solo or form a band and rock your way through low-key party shows to bigger and better venues. Lots of fun multiplayer, but like I said before I don’t like that your success with each instrument is only saved for that instrument so you have to keep beating the same songs over and over again if you are just flying solo that day and want to rock. As you progress you unlock more kick ass tracks and even some bonus content like music videos and other hidden Easter Eggs that I haven’t even scratched the surface on yet. The added bonus content is fun, because as an American I love incentives to make me work harder, even if it’s a video game.


Exactly what it sounds like, just pick a song you’ve already unlocked and rock it out at any time, with any instrument. This is just for kicks; there is no progression to new levels or songs like in Career.

Head to Head:

You and your buddies can square off against each other and see who is the better guitarist. It’s like playing Street Fighter, but with guitars instead of Bison and Ryu. I love this competitive 2-player feature on the game.

Nintendo WFC:

Are you feeling abnormally good about yourself today? Would you like your self-esteem knocked down a few notches? Then play this mode and face off against some ten year old across the globe that will annihilate you! I only won one round because my guitar was set to medium and the other player was on expert, I felt that was a shallow victory, but a victory nonetheless. Seems with online gaming for the Wii there are less players on at any given time during the day than there are on 360 or PS3 and sometimes players will drop out mid-song which is a bummer, but when you get to face off it’s fun to be shredding against a faceless rock star. You can also add people you’ve played or friends on the network to your roster, so you know when they’re on and you can challenge them to a guitar duel. As far as I could tell the drums aren’t an option yet for online play, just guitar. This is a nice bonus way to play if you’re bored with solo and your friends have stopped coming over, you can reach out to cyberspace and play online, eating up only the time it takes to play a few songs instead of hours like other online games (World of Warcraft anyone?).

Music Studio:

Here’s the big selling point for “Guitar Hero” over “Rock Band 2,” this is literally a music studio within the game where you can lay down your own multi-layered tracks with a full band or do one instrument at a time. I went through the tutorial and this still makes no sense to me, but I’m musically retarded, that’s why I’m playing these games instead of a real instrument. I do think this added feature will help get people who do play instruments or know a thing or two about music theory involved, whereas before in their eyes it was too gimmicky. I can imagine the high school band kids across the globe now making their own rock songs and sharing them to the video gaming community. That’s another cool thing, you can download for free other people’s tracks and put yours out there as well for others to play. It’s a pretty limitless feature that adds a lot to the replay value of this game. And there’s even a mixing board option to further fine tune your songs, once again something I can only barely grasp, it’s way too complicated for me.

Rock Star Creator:

Where you can shape every aspect of your character’s body, from facial structure to eyes to hair color to eye and face shape; it’s pretty ridiculous how meticulously detailed you can make your rocker. “Guitar Hero” takes the attention to detail a bit further than “Rock Band” with this feature, but for me, I just want to rock! I don’t really care what my player looks like, but for the more anal-retentive or dare I say patient gamer this is a cool function to have. If you really want to analyze every detail of your character and make them perfect in your eyes, this feature is for you.

Mii Freestyle:

This is a Wii specific feature where you can choose from your Mii characters and just freestyle jam for as long as you want. This seems like a great option for kids or adults who are intoxicated and can’t manage to play the actual game. It was fun for a couple minutes to just jam out, but being both sober and an adult I got bored quickly. I prefer “Rock Band’s” never fail mode to this, but once again, not a bad little added bonus and it doesn’t detract from the overall game but doesn’t add much either.

Music Store:

As of right now the downloadable content for this game, at least on the Wii, seems pretty limited. There are only 15 songs in the store to choose from, some that peeked my interest were No Rain-Blind Melon and Hot Blooded-Foreigner. I hope they up the anty on how many songs you can purchase or else their music library will pale in comparison to “Rock Band 2” who has promised 500 songs by Christmas and already have major song packages from bands like AC/DC and The Who. This is a feature where GH is lacking a bit on the Wii.

Final Thoughts

It’s really a toss up between the two music giants “Guitar Hero World Tour” and “Rock Band 2.” Both games are amazing and I don’t think you would be disappointed owning one over the other. “Guitar Hero” has some added little treats that will make the real-life musicians go nuts and gives a limitless creative possibility. The added high-hats to the drums may confuse the novice player at first, but does add an extra little something to make you feel that much more “authentic” as a rock star and the shred touch pad on the guitar is a nice touch.

However, if “Guitar Hero” doesn’t start catching up with their downloadable content soon they are going to be left in the dust and it seems like this may already be happening. With The Beatles on “Rock Band” in 2009 and Metallica on “Guitar Hero” you decide what is going to have better music. For the actual basic game songs that are already included “Guitar Hero” has a way better collection of classic tunes, but it all rests on how many songs are added to expand the library. The games themselves are nearly even in awesomeness, now it just depends who gets the rights to what songs… let the bidding war begin.

Game: A

Features: A

Peripherals: A- (only because of concerns that the high hats may break)

Downloads: C

Overall: A-

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