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It’s Guitar Hero set during one of the weirdest decades for music!
You’ve played Guitar Hero, right? This plays like Guitar Hero. You haven’t known joy in life until you’ve clutched a plastic guitar in your hands and rocked out like you were on stage with Sabbath.
The layout of the game is exactly the same as in Guitar Hero 2. During the career mode you’ll tour long and hard, starting from scraping together change for gas money to perform at a high school battle of the bands, to headlining massive arenas and being able to pick as many groupies as you want out of the crowd. Well, that actually makes career mode sound better than it is, there’s really no story here. Expect much of the same from the last game- all the characters, venues and loading screens are the same except that this time everything’s been 80sfied. Yes, neon colors are everywhere, everyone’s got teased hair, and it appears that a plague of bandanas has spread throughout the world.
Of course the main pull is the songs from that decade. Unfortunately, the track listing is also the weakest in the series so far, with only 30 tracks included. Half of the songs took me a second to place, and this is from someone who knows music in and out. They also did a little fudging with the decade, as two of the songs weren’t written in the 80s (Ballroom Blitz and Radar Love) and so instead the covers included in the game are of covers released in the 80s, if that makes any sense.
The genres included are eclectic as always, with everything from Asia to The Dead Kennedys to the Godlike Dio. But still, it feels like they left all the big name songs out, perhaps because of the upcoming real sequels. For example, some of the encores you play will leave you scratching your head- the audience really waited around for hours to hear Ratt, or fake 80s band Limozeen? There’d be a riot if that happened in real life. Still, there’s lots of songs that’ll get you moving, from the simplicity of Turning Japanese to the pure shredding goodness of Caught in a Mosh.
As always, the songs that work, work really fucking well. The best of the bunch by far is the last song, Extreme’s Play With Me. You probably know it better as the song from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when everyone’s getting arrested at the mall. Incredibly fun to play and incredibly fast, it’s the perfect end note to this game.
Guitar Hero has always been known for its replay value.
The first two games offered incredibly long gameplay experiences for the simple fact that once you finished the career mode and became a rock legend, you could move your way onto the next tier of difficulty or try and 5-star every song in order to unlock stuff. There were tons of things to unlock for playing well. There were bonus tracks, new characters, some lame behind the scenes videos and lots and lots of guitars and guitar skins, which I never really understood, because you never look at your character long enough to see what he’s playing. But all of this junk was something to work towards.
Rocks the 80’s, being basically an expansion pack, understandably has less. While the characters are all dolled up in typical 80s gear, there aren’t even as many characters as in the past games. (I would’ve loved to see my old death metal standby Lars Ümlaüt dressed up as a glam rocker.) There are also no bonus songs… once you’ve played through all 30 tracks in the game, that’s it.
But of course, this isn’t a true sequel, and you shouldn’t expect all the same features. But it would’ve been nice to see some time taken to flesh out the experience.
The saving grace for this game is of course the multiplayer, which plays out once again exactly like Guitar Hero 2, with bass tracks available for most songs. Get some people over your house and this will be almost as much of a blast as the last two games, as you just skip over the more lackluster songs. To be fair, the last two games have had their share of stinkers as well, but they also had more than double the tracks, so it was easier to ignore the lamer songs.
This is an expansion pack, plain and simple, and should have had a price to reflect it… at 50 dollars it’s pretty steep. Fans of 80s music will dig this, but the track listing could and should have been better. It’s obvious that they’re holding off all the best stuff for Rock Band and Guitar Hero 3.
But still, it’s Guitar Hero, just with a long and laugable stupid title, and as such there are hours of enjoyment to be gained from this. The junkies out there (you know who you are) have probably already purchased and mastered this. For the rest of you, wait till it drops in price… if only to scream along with Extreme.