Guitar Hero, the franchise that's been providing countless hours of solid entertainment since 2005, is back and stranger than ever before. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock could possibly be the best Guitar Hero in years, but that's not really saying much, especially as this is most definitely the weirdest experience a rhythm game has ever offered. Neversoft pulled together a game that feels like Brutal Legend and Guitar Hero 5 mated, and produced a freakish, unlovable baby. Bringing a new campaign experience to the table, and little more, one has to wonder if Activision plans on refreshing the franchise, or if they're simple content with milking this cow to death.
So what's the story in Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock? Well, simply put the players must recruit "rock warriors" to their band so that they may defeat the rock and roll hating monster. The result being that music can be saved. It sure sounds familiar. Players will be challenged by a series of songs attributed to each rockstar and completing them and scoring enough points will unlock the rocker and add them to your band army. Each rocker will transform into some sort of Rock Warrior, which turns out not to be a warrior at all, but some sort of monster. Instead of unlocking a viking, or a samurai, you end up with an ice-woman, and a headless horseman. Each transformation comes with a unusual cinematic experience, too.
The meat and potatoes of any Guitar Hero game is the set-list, which in Warriors of Rock isn't too shabby, but isn't that great either. There are some phenomenal songs, but there are just as many unlikeable and alienating songs mixed in as well. However, the questionable soundtrack can be supplemented through importing most of your Guitar Hero music collection, and download-able content. One highlight is the Rush 2112 narrated story, which was unforgettably unique, and quite strange. Rush fans will certainly delight at this seven song set-list with unique venues for each song.
The new guitar is pretty cool as you can attach different bodies to the neck, giving you the option to play with a signature 'rock' style. The guitar doesn't really handle any better or worse than any other product out there though. It's neat if you happen to be in dire need of a new guitar, but if you have one that works just fine there's absolutely no reason to pick it up. There really is nothing new to the actual instrument game-play either; if you've played Guitar Hero before, you will be extremely comfortable with Warriors of Rock. Any other band-mates however may feel lacking, as the game feels shallow playing the other instruments, particularly vocals. When playing as a band, rather than solo, the game does not seem to have much synergy between band-mates, making it feel a little disjointed. The guitar experience itself, however is pretty excellent.
Character creation is extremely thorough, fun and also a bit redundant. You can spend quite a lot of time making an extremely provocative character, only to find that you don't even use your own characters for story-mode. The graphics look great, and the game art is surprising, funny, but not entirely unique. The sound quality of the music is also good, the studio tracks are clear and audible, and the live tracks sound like live music. It makes Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock a pretty ideal party game, as players can join and drop out whenever they feel like it in "party mode" (which provides an endless setlist). The only down-side is that it can get old fast for anyone who isn't on a guitar, like when the Rammstein track comes up assuming that you can sing well in German.
Overall players who are a fan of the franchise know what they're getting into when they obtain new Guitar Hero games. To seriously expect anything new from the franchise, or even expect anything more than a shallow story is just a pipe dream. Knowing this, players can get by and enjoy the new set-list they have acquired, and forget the rest. For anyone looking for a unique experience, the story-mode is like a series of Lady Gaga music videos, without the same provocation, leaving players staring at bizarre costumes and strange concepts. The Rush 2112 is also a good simulation for anyone wondering what an acid trip could be like.