Review by Chavo216

Reviewed: 09/08/09

An amazing experience!

Guitar Hero 5 is the direct sequel to Guitar Hero World Tour, and it ups the ante of the rhythm genre big time. It is arguably the best, if not the best, music game ever made. Neversoft really outdid themselves with this product, which is a breath of fresh air for some but was expected for others.

Straight into it then!

Guitar Hero has always been known for having what some call "cartoony" graphics, but the performers in this game look crisp and clean, and they move fluidly. At times they can be a bit robotic, but it is definitely a step up from previous installments. The HUD has been revamped so everything is clearly in view at all times, however, the "XXX NOTE STREAK!" and "STAR POWER READY!" messages are missing, and at times, it can be tricky to see if you have Star Power ready or not. The different fret boards are gone and are replaced with a clean black fret board, making notes very easy to read. Finally, the guest stars are VERY impressive, one look at Kurt Cobain and Carlos Santana, and you know it's them. Very nicely done. Above all, the graphics impress.

As of this review, there are 85 songs on disc, and 56 songs available from importing songs from World Tour and Smash Hits. So if you already own both discs, you have a very nice library of songs and only have to pay a very small licensing fee to export the songs. The soundtrack on disc this time around is widely varied, there is something for everyone here, with a mix of 80's, 90's and current decade songs. So whether you like glam rock, metal, classic rock, or whatever your music tastes are, there IS something for you in this game, and at least a couple of songs that you'll say "Hey, I know this one!" when you hear it. There are always songs in every music game that you play once and never want to play again; this game limits that problem with the sheer number of good song choices and chance to update the song library.

The guitar charts for the songs are surprisingly very fun. There is quite a bit of easy stuff, but even the easy stuff manages to avoid being dull. The solos you've come to expect from Guitar Hero on Expert still exist to an extent, and it's still fun and brings a smile to a players face when they nail a solo that had been giving them trouble. I have long since graduated to Expert, but the Medium and Hard charts do a good job in preparing players for the challenge of Expert, while still being fun for the players in their skill level. The bass are once again superb; the open note continues to separate what would be a dull experience into great gameplay.

Unfortunately, I do not have a drum kit at this time, so I am unable to review the drum charts. I have played vocals, and I must say the experience is MUCH improved over World Tour. Similar to Smash Hits, the vocals are now separated into phrases, with the grade being given to the whole phrase, not individual pitches amongst the lyrics, and finally, there are actual Star Power phrases, rather than every phrase being Star Power.

The new features are great! Party play allows a group to play right off the Main Menu. Simply select a playlist and anyone can jump in and out at any time without worrying about failing or swapping instruments, since now any combination of up to 4 instruments can be used. It really streamlines what this game is intended for at parties: people playing along to music and having a good time without worrying about failing out. And finally, a feature that has been needed is finally here: the ability to choose which character plays which instrument in your band. No longer are you given three random NPC's for every performance. You have total control over who plays what and can swap easily from the menus.

The only issue I've had with the menus is, when selecting a song I haven't exported yet or even just hovering over the song a little too long (long enough for the sample of the track to start playing), the game displays an error message and backs out to the Main Menu. It can be annoying, but is not a big issue and is easily fixed by either exporting or deleting the file from your hard drive.

Guitar Hero 5 re-defines the music game genre, streamlining it to near perfection. If you have yet to buy one of these games somehow, this is definitely the one to start with. Even if you've been playing music games since the first Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero 5 has enough new features and it's core gameplay has been so polished and fine tuned that it is still a welcome addition to any player's library.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Guitar Hero 5 (US, 09/01/09)

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