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Guitar Hero World Tour (Xbox 360)

Games Reviews Xbox 360
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Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii

Helping kids appreciate music, one "Jessie's Girl" download at a time

The Guitar Hero franchise has secured enormous bragging rights for its publisher Activision. The company announced in January of 2008 that Guitar Hero is the first franchise to crack $1 billion dollars in sales. Then it was just announced yesterday that Guitar Hero III is the first single game to break $1 billion in sales. That’s real money, like the kind you buy stuff with.

The newest installment, Guitar Hero World Tour, invites you to get the band back together—in your living room. MTV Games’ Rock Band may have been the first game to get the full-band concept to market, but World Tour has the benefit of feeling like the original article. There’s a bond that gets cemented when you fall in love with something for the first time. The first version of a song that you hear will always remain your favorite, even if it wasn’t the original artist. The same holds true for me with World Tour when those little colored circles come barreling down the fret highway.

The game has stuck by its explosively colorful, cartoony look, which suits the rock-star fantasy perfectly. After all, what could be more of a cartoon than the rock-god lifestyle? And the switch to a full-band game lets the camera roam about the stage in a really engaging way. Earlier games in the series never cared much about anyone but the guitarist, but its fun to see the singer and drummer bring some real personality to the mix instead of appearing like paid-by-the-hour film extras onscreen.

The guitar has gotten a nice little upgrade—a fretboard sliding strip that lets you simulate (however vaguely) the experience of sliding your finger up and down a guitar string between sustained notes. While the franchise name will always be Guitar Hero, everyone knows that drums have stolen the show. World Tour’s set is almost perfect, complete with fake cymbals to make the experience feel that much more authentic. The only annoyance I found with the set was the bass pedal, which isn’t anchored like the Rock Band drum kit. It has non-skid strips, which works great on a hard service, but on my living room rug, the pedal slid farther away from me with each thumping press.

The tracklist has some ridiculously fun tunes—sing with me now, “Whoaaaaaa, we’re halfway therrrre!”—but I almost chucked all my plastic-instrument peripherals into the middle of a dark desert highway when my eardrums got assaulted by The Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Even still, it wasn’t enough to cause me to forsake my beloved Guitar Hero. Maybe when hell freezes over.

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