Here we are then. Three years after first setting off we’ve arrived. Hands up, who didn’t see this coming? Scarred onto the map with a sinister dark cross, the only real question was when.
And after 5 Guitar Hero games, you’d be forgiven for assuming Neversoft had finally got it right, or at least were capable of distinguishing between the one with six strings, the one with four and a keyboard. But you would be wrong for doing so on both counts. This is Guitar Hero then, the very same.
Despite steering itself further toward the party crowd, no number of trivial inclusions can conceal the fact that there is no reason for Guitar Hero 5 to exist besides greasing pockets. Drop in/ drop out sessions are a nice touch, four players drumming together a predictably pointless inclusion. Avatar support and real-life replicas (Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash) are tacky and shameless. The lone experience is a shallow characterless ride through 83 suspicious choices; arguably the worst set list yet. Multiplayer has been enhanced but never in ways worthy of another full-retail game.
An internal career challenge mode is the highlight of the new inclusions. The addition of extra challenges flanking the by now proverbial star-system is a rarely thoughtful inclusion but is marred by a lack of imagination.
Maintaining the casual nature of the game however, continues to pay off in areas Harmonix are still maintaining a cruel stance on; allowing the player to restart without punishment ensures you’re free to explore the tougher difficulties without being punished for failure whilst repetition of songs is scarcely problematic.
But this is the third console release within the same amount of time it has taken Harmonix to provide original Rock Band owners with over 750 songs of their own picking. I don’t want to play Children of Bodom, Attack Attack or Elton John but to finish the campaign I have to. Admittedly new venues unlock at machine gun pace, but the set-list is so wide of the mark (Coldplay, Spacehog, Public Enemy…) it’s arduous where it should be familiar mindless fun and desperately requires some consistency.
I won’t waste time talking about what could or should have been patched into the far superior World Tour, the Hero franchise is one that has seen over a dozen reincarnations in the space of three years, integrity is not at its heart.
This is undoubtedly the worst Guitar Hero game that hasn’t been plagued with an Aerosmith inscription. Little over a year ago the genre was an embarrassment of riches, this fifth installment is, by contrast, just an embarrassment.