I’ll tell you right now – I’m a Metal Head. When it comes to shrieking vocals, heavy guitar, and mythological album art, I’m your go-to guy; so as you can imagine, I was super excited to see Guitar Hero : Warriors of Rock in action. What I saw was a demonstration that would make the Gods of Rock cry.
As Comic Book Guy would have said most appropriately at a video game tradeshow: worst…presentation…ever.
The main hook of the game is that you are now attempting to rescue the God of Rock, and take back the, well, Land of Rock, by rescuing the Axe of Rock, the only way to destroy the Destroyer of Rock. To do this, you must channel your inner rock strength through gaining star ranks on setlists, then change into a Rock Demi-God (rocked out yet?). The story is narrated by Gene Simmons of Kiss fame (who needs acting lessons – Ozzie would have been much better suited for this game), and really is just there to trick you into thinking you’re doing more than just setlists, like all the old games.
We got to see the world map, and how transformations work, and again, they’re essentially the same concept as the old game. Each character has their own themed list (Napalm has punk, etc), and after getting a certain amount of stars, you move onto the Encore song as your transformation, giving you an extra power to use. The problem is, the powers that we saw do not change anything in any way outside of the score modifiers. So for instance, Napalm will stay at 2x during the entire song – that’s literally it. Bored yet?
One of the saddest parts of the presentation was when the exhibitors boasted that the Guitar Hero DLC library would reach 500 songs by the time Warriors of Rock was released – like it was some sort of big accomplishment. Considering it was just announced that Rock Band 3 would have 2,000 songs available at launch, I was pretty shocked Activision isn’t trying to put more effort into defeating their direct competition.
That underwhelming factoid set the tone for the entire thirty minute presentation. After hyping up the game and telling us how the powers worked, the developers preceded to play Warriors of Rock. Now, imagine if your friends asked you “hey dude, do you want to watch us play Guitar Hero for a while?” – THAT was the presentation. To add insult to injury, they used two guitars to demonstrate the game – a dynamic that hasn’t changed since the series debuted in 2006. Two lengthy songs later, they asked if anyone in the room wanted to play; my colleague Kevin Miller was about to fall asleep, so we politely thanked them for the demo, and headed back to our hotel.
Why Activision wouldn’t attempt something new in light of their competitor’s dazzling new real live MIDI keyboard addition, real instrument mode, and a library that’s 1,500 songs larger, I’ll never know. As it stands, “super powers” that don’t change the way the game is played in any way other than scoring is not enough for me to bite: especially considering Rock Band 3’s setlist will probably encompass most of Warrior’s of Rock’s tunes by the end of the year.