Guitar Hero 5

Publisher: Activision
MSRP: $59.99

It’s pretty rare for a game series to remain captivating by the time a fifth entry is introduced to the franchise. Nonetheless Guitar Hero 5 has made it to store shelves, and it’s clear that the makers of this ridiculously successful series have been observing what has worked well in past games while simultaneously noting what has sucked. The result is a great sequel in which accessibility is the top priority.

Gone are the days of needing to create flow charts and treasure maps to guide first time players on their quest to play a song. Even as you move through the menu, you are only a button click away from jumping into the song playing in the background. No matter what mode you chose, others can easily join in and drop out at any point either locally or online.

The greatest new feature, which will certainly become the new standard for the genre, allows you to mix and match the instruments composing your band. Friends will no longer be stuck on the sideline, clapping along because you don’t have a drum set—just plug in another mic or guitar! You could play “Shout It Out Loud” with four bassists, and then “Under Pressure” with three vocalists and a drummer, all without ever stepping out of career mode.

There are a few new competitive modes available for those looking for something more than just a career, although for the most part they are still variations of head-to-head matches where the person with the most right notes wins. In Momentum, for example, everyone starts off equal with a difficulty level that gets adjusted based on performance. Getting to a higher level means the opportunity to score more points.

The disc comes loaded with a random variety of artists, and songs from World Tour and Smash Hits can be imported for a small fee. There are already more than 150 songs ready to download, and all of the downloadable songs from World Tour are yours for free! So even if you don’t like some of the artists included in the game, there is a cornucopia of additional music available.

If that somehow doesn’t satisfy you, you can make your own songs in the improved GHStudio. It’s been tweaked since its debut in World Tour, and just like before you can share your songs online through GHTunes. You’ll undoubtedly have a new appreciation for all those famous musicians’ songs you previously skipped over once you realize just how terrible your homemade creations are.

Guitar Hero 5 is far from being a stale rehash of its countless predecessors. The frustrating interface has been simplified so that anyone can figure it out. It’s even easy to jump online, have a friend join for a few songs, and then boot them out because you don’t like that they’re better than you. Despite the popularity and success of its previous games, this is the best Guitar Hero to date.


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