Byline: ROBERT McGINTY
It's the classic case of keeping up with the Joneses. The Guitar Hero franchise dominated the music gaming genre for years, until Rock Band expanded the instrument selection to a full four-piece band. So this year we have Guitar Hero World Tour, which also adds drums and vocals for a pricey but rock-solid package.
What they're selling: From Activision - "Living-room legends are now free to jump on stage and rock as Guitar Hero World Tour shreds, drums and wails onto retail shelves."
What we're telling: Legends are never made in the living room. We all know that. That room is full of lazy people.
The nut graph: By now millions of gamers have tried either Guitar Hero or Rock Band, so part of this comes down to personal preference. There aren't a lot of new gaming elements here since Rock Band came out last year, but the total package is more polished than the guitar-only games and the music selection is mature and extensive (85 songs come with the disc).
Since the franchises are so similar, it's impossible not to compare them. In some ways World Tour is a better experience, notably with the arrangement of notes. It syncs better with the music, especially with guitar and bass, which makes it more fun to immerse yourself in the songs. The drum kit is sensational and has three pads and two cymbals (Rock Band has the four pads and no cymbals) along with a foot pedal; there's not a lot of difference with the microphone for vocals.
On the other hand, the online offerings are smoother with Rock Band, and the "storyline" is more interesting. But you really can't go wrong with either game, especially if you have a few friends over ... these types of games just feel better when you're all in the same place.
And if you're getting one for somebody as a present, that big box will look quite nice wrapped under the tree.
Reason to smile: The song mix is fantastic, including Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles and Tool. ... You can use the Music Studio to compose and edit your own music, or you can download what others have done. You realize your own musical limitations pretty fast, but it's a good way to doodle away some time.
Reason to growl: Maybe it appeals to some people, but it's too bad we can't move past the psychedelic graphics and cartoony band members. Surely there is a better way to present the background stuff. ... If one member of your band fails a song, you cannot "rescue" him. So pick your bandmates' difficulty level wisely.
firstname.lastname@example.org, (904) 359-4250
IF YOU PLAY
'GUITAR HERO WORLD TOUR'
Rating: *** (3 stars) out of 4
System: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii.
Price: $190 for a full band kit, $90-$100 for a guitar and game, $50-$60 for the game by itself.
Family guide: Rated T. Rock 'n' roll can be risque. If not downright tacky.
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