Now fully six games in, you'd be forgiven for thinking that maybe, by this point, Guitar Hero has finally run dry on ideas. But no!
From the very dregs of a rotting design doc comes one more feature to add to the rhythm action game's already teetering pile - the titular warriors, musicians with incredible magical powers, on a quest to save the demigod of rock. Marvel at Lars Umlaut, whose maximum multiplier is a 5x instead of a 4x. Wonder at Pandora, who commands a Star Power multiplier one whole third greater than that of her peers. Gasp as Casey Lynch misses a note without breaking a streak.
Each character has one of these powers, four of which are combined for the Quest mode's midpoint boss battle, a trek through Rush's 2112, their 20-minute, guitar-worrying epic. All eight powers then come together for the final showdown - resulting in a cavalcade of on-screen gubbins: shields protecting streaks, extended rock meters, multicoloured lightning sparking hither and thither.
These powers, as well as the augmented versions you unlock as you play, appear in multiplayer. While they succeed in making each rocker unique, they fail to bring much to the series as a party game.
Warriors of Rock retains most of the features of previous games, such as the ability to create your own tracks, but while it never detracts from the excellence of the long-running series it's the most woefully incremental of the bunch so far.
The single-player mode presents itself as a 'quest', amounting to little more than a menu redesign in disguise. The tracklist, a return to the rock feel of the original, feels at times uninspired, incongruous and uninteresting. There are even framerate issues during certain tracks, with stuttering fretboards betraying a concerning lack of polish.
It's easy to glance over at Rock Band 3's new instrument and game mode and see Warriors of Rock as having taken a sidestep compared to Harmonix's forward stride. The interesting power mechanic and the return to fun, exaggerated rock and metal aesthetics are there to be enjoyed, but this is a series in dire need of a reboot.
Starting to feel all rocked out
- Character powers add interest
- Track challenges add replayability
- Pretending to be in a band is still fun
- Hopelessly similar to previous games
- Weak track list