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T (Teen)



September 2009



- Compatible DLC

- Accessible

- Party mode

- Band play less frustrating



- Kurt Cobain as a playable character just feels wrong
- Track list feels too diverse at times
- DLC can’t compete with Rock Band
- Some songs are already available for Rock Band



Review: Guitar Hero: World Tour (360)

Review: Guitar Hero: Smash Hits (360)

Review: Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades (DS)



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Guitar Hero 5

Score: 7.5 / 10


The last few years have seen a swath of Guitar Hero (GH) games be released for all platforms. It almost seems like we are coming close to the end of what many would describe as a fad. However, Guitar Hero V still manages to impress with some solid new additions even if it does not match up to Rock Band.


guitar hero 5          guitar hero 5


Guitar Hero debuted its full band game last year with GH: World Tour.  Since then, several band games have been released and several more have been planned in the future. One of the complaints levelled against GH was that it was not as accessible as its rival Rock Band. This year Neversoft has went back and re-tooled the game to make it more accessible and user friendly.


One of the newest additions to the game is the Party Mode which allows players to jump in and out of songs at any time with any combination of instruments. If you’ve




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ever played Rock Band or GH before, then you’ll know that most people are not raising their hand to play the bass. You can now have 4 guitarists or 4 drummers or vocalists on each song in the game.  The Party Mode is a great addition as you can now satisfy everyone who wants to play a specific instrument. 


Guitar Hero’s V features the most diverse track


list seen in any game to date. Some of the notable artists include Muse, Stevie Wonder, Nirvana, Kings of Leon, Elton John and Coldplay.  There are over 80 tracks in the game, all of which are master tracks with some live recordings thrown in as well.  The game’s tracklist is a little too diverse for my liking, but thankfully all the songs are unlocked in quick play at the beginning of the game, so you are not forced to play through the career mode to unlock every song.  Another downside to the track list is that some of the songs are already available to Rock Band players, either as on disc songs or downloadable content. (DLC)


On a positive note,  DLC purchased for GH World Tour is forward compatible, which is a welcome addition. Taking a page from the Rock Band series, some of the GH World Tour on disc songs can also be transferred over to GH5 for a small fee. The one downside to this is that only about a 1/3 of the songs are transferrable at the moment. GH5 also offers weekly downloadable content consisting of 3-4 songs. The DLC has been decent, but does not match the quality and quantity offered by Rock Band each week.


The game’s progression in the career mode is similar to Rock Band 2’s.  The game does not force you to play a specific song in order to unlock new venues. Rather,  you need to earn a set number of starts to unlock new gigs. You may have ten songs to choose from but only require 10 starts to unlock the next venue. Depending on how well you play, you can simply 5 star two songs to unlock the next venue.  This is a welcome change that was first introduced in GH Metallica and it’s nice to see it transfer over to GH5.


guitar hero 5           guitar hero 5


Another mode returning from previous GH games is the music studio which allows you to craft your own tracks. The music studio is more fully featured this time around, but still not as accessible as some may hope. It will be interesting to see how well the music studio stacks up against Harmonix’s recently announced Rock Band network, which will serve the same purpose as the music studio.


One of the disappointing features in GH World Tour was the band play.  You’d be heavily penalized for having a bandmate fail out, which would act as a deterrent for new players to the game.. This time around you won’t be penalized for having a band member fail out and you can save them by winning over the crowd.  Also featured in GH5 are band moments which reward solid play with score multipliers.


Like previous GH games, playable rock stars make a return. Kurt Cobain, Johnny Cash and Shirley Mason are few of the notables who make appearances in GH5. Seeing an animated version of Kurt Cobain singing other artists songs as well as his own just feels wrong and is now the subject of a lawsuit filed by his widow Courtney Love.  I think many would agree that if Kurt Cobain were alive today,  he would never want to be eulogized or idolized in a video game. 


If you are used to playing Rock Band then transitioning to GH may take some time. The one issue I had while playing GHV was the timing window. On any instrument, the game allows you to be a little sloppy and not hit the note at the exact precise moment. It takes some getting used to and was probably included to lessen the difficulty of the game. I found myself having trouble playing Rock Band after playing GH5 due to the difference in timing windows. Rock Band appears to be more strict with how accurately you must hit a note compared to GH.


The game’s visuals are solid overall. The characters appear lively on stage and the guest musicians in the game look like their real life counterparts.  There are plenty of close ups and far camera shots during the songs, which give the game more of a realistic feel as if you’re watching a live performance on TV.  The crowd could look a litter more lively and detailed, but the visuals get the job done. 


It almost seemed as if the music game genre was starting to fade, however GH5 still manages to incorporate some interesting features and bring new things to the table, even if to does not have the same level of polish as the Rock Band games.


- Siddharth Masand

(November 8, 2009)


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