The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
If you thought Guitar Hero had already jumped the shark, Warriors of
Rock is akin to hopping in a hot rod, revving the engine, and jumping
through a flaming hoop over a school of mega-sharks. Warriors of Rock
welds the series’ familiar gameplay to action game elements like
elaborate cutscenes and character transformations. Now, instead of just
selecting your character and plowing through setlists, you must go
through custom sets created for GH characters old and new, earning a
ludicrous numbers of stars to unlock their new “warrior” forms. Pretty
soon, good old Lars Umlaut is a giant death metal pig with pierced
nipples, Casey Lynch is a half-snake woman, and Johnny Napalm is...a
punk rock version of Nightcrawler from X-Men? Sure! This is about as
over-the-top as it gets, and it’s topped off with a paper-thin plotline
about defeating some giant beast with your axe of rock (Brütal Legend
anyone?) with narration by Gene Simmons of KISS.
injected the familiar gameplay with steroids; a host of
character-specific power-ups allow you to get previously impossible
numbers of stars. Casey’s Shield Guardian gives you two recharging
shields that protect your note streaks. Judy Nails can overflow her
rock meter, garnering two extra stars. Others include a five-percent
Star Power boost for every 10-note streak and an Ankh talisman that
saves you from failing out of a song.
This basically amounts to
grade inflation. I’m certainly not as good at Guitar Hero as I once
was, but I remember what nailing a song feels like. What would have
been a three or four-star run-through of a song now nets you six or
seven stars. If that makes you feel better, fine, but I’m not going to
The powers become more interesting later in the
game, when you must assign the characters into two bands to face the
final boss. Here it’s important to wisely combine your powers in order
to maximize your advantage. For example, I constructed one band to
focus on Star Power and the other for multiplier and note streaks.
After you’ve finished the game, you can tackle it again in Dominate
Quest, where you have all eight powers enabled but must get 40 stars on
each song. If you’re playing well, you can play an entire song with
Star Power on (and a 36x multiplier running). This arcade-style
experience carries over to the new Quickplay mode as well, which adds
cool Star Challenges that let you gain points to level up and unlock
new rewards and items.
The soundtrack is a mixed bag. The earlier
stages are well balanced and focused, giving you genre-oriented sets
like Johnny Napalm’s punk gig at CBGBs or new character Austin Tejas’s
classic rock block. The game’s centerpiece is a marathon playthrough of
Rush’s sidelong 2112 suite. As a big Rush fan, I loved it,
though I’m not on board with having the band members do an awkward
recitation of the album’s silly story. The end of the game amps up the
challenge with a final boss battle that features some ridiculously hard
new Megadeth songs and a bonus tier of metal shredders. Frankly I think
most of these songs are terrible and felt like a chore. I had much more
fun coming back to earlier tracks on the Dominate Quest.
Hero: Warriors of Rock is often stupid and frequently silly, but I got
caught up in shredding my way through the ridiculous experience. It
doesn’t matter if I was laughing with the game or laughing at it; I was