The biggest weakness of Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock is that it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s a solid social game, offering more than 90 new tracks and a party mode that makes hopping in and out easy. But the latest in the extensive series fails to provide a justification for purchasing it when there are better options on the market.
Warriors Of Rock’s primary innovation is a quest mode, basically adding a fantasy theme to the traditional career mode. Gene Simmons of Kiss delivers the melodramatic voiceovers about some great Viking-like warrior battling a machine known as The Beast. With the warrior defeated, new champions are needed to help save rock. Players must earn a certain number of stars while playing set lists in order to help the signature characters become capable warriors by transforming them into demons, cyborgs, and other odd creatures.
The plot and often-shoddy animations feel like rejected scenes from Brütal Legend, lacking the wit that made the Jack Black game great. Getting through the early game is a slog, because the number of stars you have to earn means you’ll need to play nearly every song on the characters’ limited set lists. This is especially rough, since the first two lists are so cluttered with obscure material like Phoenix’s “Lasso” and Band Of Skulls’ “I Know What I Am.” The more warriors you unlock, the broader your selection gets, but the game still favors lesser-known songs from big bands, like The Cure’s “Fascination Street” and The Rolling Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues.” Some hardcore fan service is fine, but it should be a late-game challenge rather than a progression requirement.
Overall, Warriors Of Rock feels less geared toward casual players than its peers. Even on easy mode, it’s nearly impossible to get through a tough drum song. Upping the difficulty is always a huge jump, and there’s even an expert+ mode for true masters. The symbols on the drum set offer a more genuine feeling than Rock Band’s, but also increase the complexity.
Playing through the quest mode unlocks new themed venues, avatars, and powers that can be used in Quickplay. Each character has unique abilities that can take the number of stars earned in a song well past five, or increase the frequency of your star power. Of course, you could ignore the fantasy entirely, but then you’re better off sticking with Guitar Hero 5, or saving your money for Rock Band 3.