Looking for a revolution? Well you're unlikely to find it here. The Guitar Hero series has been so prolific that it's little wonder the new features feel so incremental.
They're are good though, and this is easily the most refined series entry to date. Neversoft has put a strong focus on getting into the music quickly and easily, without any of the fiddly bits from previous games.
Several of the tweaks come by way of Rock Band. It borrows the synchronicity bonus, where bandmates earn extra points for hitting the same sequence of notes. There's also the ability to "save" a fallen bandmate if they fail.
But the real star of the show is the ability to use your Avatar instead of the usual GH rockers. When your friends are up on stage with their Avatars too, the feeling of sharing in a music experience is genuinely heightened. The Avatar animation captures the right balance - an energetic performance that doesn't look overly realistic.
And for those who prefer the old-skool characters, the likes of Pandora and Izzy Sparks look better than ever. Lars Umlaut is particularly awesome this time, boasting two giant mammoth tusks on his shoulder pads. More motion capture has been done and there are noticeably fewer canned animations than GH:WT. Guest stars Kurt Cobain, Shirley Manson and Carlos Santana probably won't do much to quell The Beatles: Rock Band's wave of publicity, but they're a fun addition.
Although you'll never see lightning bolts shooting out of Johnny Cash's guitar, there's nothing to stop you using Kurt Cobain to rock out to Coldplay. The likenesses feel respectful, but the way they're used isn't always so.
Hardcore Guitar Hero players may be hard-pressed to find too much appeal in the party play mode. Although you can use any combination of instruments, the lack of a scoring system dulls its edge.
There's no harmonising on multiplayer vocals, but the track list isn't really suited for that anyway. It's still fun, and almost as boisterous as four-player drumming - almost guaranteed to earn you an ASBO to go along with your five-star rating.
It might seem minor, but by far the most useful tweak in the game is the ability to have two guitarists in career mode. Finally, no one has to get lumbered with the bass!
Neversoft has made some excellent tweaks and continues to prove it can do note charts just as well as Harmonix.
The genre's star might be fading ever so slightly, and this game is no revolution, but it does deliver great music and a more refined band experience.
No great strides, but still great fun
- Good track list and note charts
- Avatars head-banging
- Taken out all the fiddly bits
- Challenges are fun
- Doesn't take any chances