Guitar Hero 5: A to ZBy Abbie Heppe - Posted Aug 10, 2009
So, last week I got my hands on Guitar Hero 5 up in San Francisco, and as I’ve reiterated constantly in the past few weeks, there are SO many improvements in this sequel. That said, I’ve wracked my brain to create an alphabetical list of what to expect in Guitar Hero 5, so here goes -- and please forgive the few that may be stretches, I’ve been able to loosely structure this around the rules of Scattergories, so you can argue amongst yourselves where I’ve clearly cheated:
A – Aesthetics – I’m all about the softer colors in the graphics, improvements to the graphics engine and the all-around look of Guitar Hero 5.
B – Band Rock Meter – This feature is no more in GH5. If your band mates start failing out, you’ll have to hit notes correctly in order to save them. If they keep failing, it’ll get harder and harder to bring them back, but there’s no “Three Strikes You’re Out” rule.
C – Challenges – Each song in the game includes a specific challenge. This could be alt-strumming a certain amount of notes, hitting all up-strums on bass etc. Friends can help you complete each challenge, but this adds so much depth to the game play and I can’t wait to have an objective to make me work harder to complete each song. If you nail the challenge you’ll get bonus stars and unlockables (see U).
D – Downloads – You’ll be able to download new songs from the store on day one of GH5’s release. But if you haven’t bought “The Touch” yet, do it now!
E – Expert Online Play – Call me a snob, but there’s nothing worse than playing with people who can’t hang on expert. For GH5, expert players will find themselves matched up with only other expert players.
F – Franchise Compatibility – Newly announced, GH5 will be backwards (or franchise in Activision’s terms) compatible with Smash Hits, World Tour and the whole GH catalogue. The coolest part? Neversoft has re-done songs from the previous games to be compatible with all the new features in GH5.
G – Guitar Hardware – It’s no secret that I still play with a wired Gibson Xplorer from GH2 on 360. I love the click of the strum bar so much I never moved on. However, I’m considering hanging up my battered old guitar for the GH5 version. The strum bar feels just right and everything has a rubberized grip surface to keep your fingers in place. It’s also stylish and improved internally for the best performance. Bye, Xplorer, it’s been a good run.
H – Hyperspeed – Just in case you really want a challenge, you can increase the speed of the notes you’re playing. It’s pretty much “Expert +” mode for guitar and bass. Good luck!
I – Iggy Pop – This might be a stretch, but he has a song in the game (“Lust for Life”). I really wish there were more songs from his catalogue, but it would be better if he was an unlockable character and you could enter some sort of Mortal Kombat-esque “blood code” to unlock him. Blood, peanut butter, and he’s more “T for Teen” than G.G. Allin.
J – Jams – GHjams lets you create your own note paths while the game plays your backing melody of choice behind you. You can choose from classic rock, punk rock, blues and a ton more to set the right beat for your song. And while you play a nifty visualizer plays in the background. Trippy! This is totally the mode for those not quite up to the challenge of creating in GHtunes.
K – Killer track list – Okay, I cheated and used an adjective here, but the track list on GH5 is the best I’ve seen in a Neversoft Guitar Hero game. It’s got some of my favorites by The Police, Weezer, The Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash and more. Plus there are still tracks with the blistering difficulty one would expect and lots of up and coming bands. I’ll say this, even the songs I don’t love, I don’t hate, either.
L – Likenesses – You’ll find plenty of celebrity characters in the game like you’ve come to expect from the series. Shirley Manson, Johnny Cash, and Carlos Santana all appear in the game. While celeb rockers have never been a huge sell for me, I’m pretty happy to see Johnny Cash make that list.
M – Multipliers – An 8x multiplier used to be good, but with the addition of “Band Moments” where each member has to hit the fiery notes streaming down the track, you can boost your multiplier sky high…provided everyone hits the notes.
N – Neversoft – Perhaps best known for their work on the Tony Hawk series, GH5 developer Neversoft also worked on Gun, Spider-Man and a host of other titles. Since Guitar Hero III, they’ve developed the majority of Guitar Hero games. Dealing with pro skaters and huge bands? Pretty good gig.
O – Online/Offline Modes – There are a host of competitive modes in GH5 that support 4 locally and 8 online. Each gives you a specific competition, whether it be hitting all of the notes in a section correctly, or building momentum (which knocks you between difficulties based on how well you’re playing), pro face off and more. You can mash them all up in a Rock Fest mode for tons of competitive variety. Also, I don’t miss the Battle Mode. You shouldn’t either.
P – Party Play – From the very first menu in the game, anyone can hop in an start playing from either a pre-selected song list or whatever the game wants to choose for you. This mode is pretty smart and perfect for social environments. Similar to Microsoft’s karaoke game Lips, this mode acts as a jukebox if you aren’t playing, but truly allows for pick up and play action. Having gotten my hands on it, I can say the transition for jumping into a song is virtually seamless -- everyone’s note tracks shift to the left. It’s fairly easy to involve more players without missing a note, even on Expert.
Q – Quebec – NOT appearing in this game. If you understand this dig, like me, you play too much Guitar Hero. I think we can expect far more from the venues in GH5. *shakes fist at Smash Hits*
R – Roadies – If you’re purchasing this game for the Wii, you’ll get an exclusive mode that works with the Nintendo DS. There’s no extra purchase involved, the mode downloads straight from the Wii. This Roadie Battle mode has players trying to sabotage their opponent, while protecting their own guitar player from the same problems. Evolved from the battle mode in GH, this is more in-depth and way more engaging, especially for those who want to play, but fear plastic instruments.
S – Streamlined – Addressing a common complaint from past versions, you’ll quickly notice how streamlined the menus in GH5 are. Less screens to navigate through, the better!
T – Tunes – For the budding music maker, the GHtunes feature has been vastly improved. It allows for significantly more uploads to the servers and expands the song length to 10 minutes. Those who found the previous version in World Tour too complicated should give it another try. There is a built in tool menu for guidance and while there are way more features, the actual track construction has been simplified and made more accessible.
U – Unlockables – When you complete the various song challenges you’ll unlock something new each time. Since every track in the game is unlocked off the bat, challenges will get you clothes, venues, characters and all the extra content you’d expect.
V - Vicarious Visions – This is the company behind the development of the handheld and Wii versions of Guitar Hero since GH3. They’ve developed an extensive amount of handheld games but also created Terminus for PC/Linux/Mac which won them plenty of critical acclaim.
W – Wii – I’m happy to say that you can expect all the same features in the Wii version of this game. With the SD Card, your entire catalogue of songs is available and you can enjoy the same franchise compatibility that PS3 and 360 users will have. The game will also bypass the horrid friend codes policy and import your buddies straight from your address book. And of course, you can play as your Mii.
X – Xbox Avatars – It was recently announced that you can use your avatar in GH5. I sure hope that means it’ll be compatible with the avatar awards in the new Xbox update coming up. I’m on the fence about creating a new character or just using my avatar, but some welcome updates to the women’s avatar clothing selection just might sway me, Microsoft.
Y – Your Band – Start thinking of a good name, because GH5 drops on September 1 and it looks like there should be some serious online competition getting underway then. If you don’t have a band you can always pick up members online, so no excuses.
Zeppelin – Don't bother getting your hopes up.