|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Harmonix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: RedOctane (Activision)||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 24, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
June 5, 2007 - The eighties were a time when things seemed more simple. The video game industry was just starting out, taking risks and being truly innovative when it came to gameplay. Cartoons were better than they are today, with a clear message of heroism and the values of what was right and wrong. Moreover, the music, to put it simply, rocked. Even the bad rock everyone knew and appreciated in their own way was great. However, when the rock was great, you knew it and so did everyone else. Apparently, the folks at RedOctane and Neversoft remember the eighties with its several forms of rock. This might be the reason for an edition to the Guitar Hero pantheon that seems to be solely driven by the hairspray energetic rock of the eighties.
Some could say that the stylings of Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s are a homage, considering that it is the rock of that decade that inspired the original Guitar Hero. Then again, when Activision acquired RedOctane and the development team shifted from Harmonix over to Neversoft it was only a matter of time before the video game scene erupted with another dose of the amp turned up to eleven. While the expansion on the series was inevitable, most would have anticipated that the next title would have been the mega number that they are planning, rather than a period piece of rock legends. I, for one, am not complaining about an addition to the series that will increase the already impressive tracks on the first two games. That and I love the 80s rock, to a level that some might consider unhealthy.
The new encore series could become the wave of fill-in Guitar Hero games while we wait for our yearly sequel. Unfortunately, it does appear that that is all Encore is - a fill-in. An expansion pack to be more precise. I know this may be a disservice to the game and I truly hope that I am incorrect in saying that, but the lack of new gameplay or the inclusion of new characters leans more towards my statement being correct. However, that being said, there are a few things that will automatically make you take interest as you compare the differences. For starters, opening animation of Guitar Hero has been redone with 80s centric neon colors. The 80s fun does not stop there though. The characters we have come to know and love have been tweaked and retroed to look like they stepped right out of the long ago decade. Axel Steel, the front running man's man from the games, will sport a bandana and a mullet to commemorate his blast to the past and Izzy Sparks will display his true rock heritage by following the glam styles of great bands like Posion. Those are just two examples of how the characters have changed and they will not be the only things that will be noticeably different. Everything will have the overall feel and representation of the 80s.
This, once again, makes the title feel like an expansion pack more than anything else, in addition to the lack of new gameplay. This lack could be viewed as a good thing seeing as how the success of Guitar Hero II is still catching the world's fingers on fire. Yet, there is another reason that Encore will seem more like an expansion - you have to have Guitar Hero II in order to play. So, what new songs can we eagerly be anticipating when the title arrives in July? Check out the following list of songs that will be both a mix of cover bands and the actual band themselves delivering their classic tunes:
18 and life - Skid Row
Bathroom Wall - Faster Pussycat
Lonely is the Night - Billy Squier
Nothing But a Good Time - Poison
Play With Me - Extreme
Shaken - Eddie Money
Synchronicity II - The Police
I Wanna Rock - Twisted Sister
I Ran - Seagulls
Round and Round - Ratt
I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow
Metal Health - Quiet Riot
Holy Diver - Dio
Heat Of The Moment - Asia
Of course, this is only the beginning of the track list that will appear on the Encore, and much like an eagerly anticipated CD nowadays, there might only be one or two tracks on there that you will want to play. I can guarantee that even the ones you are not excited about will grow on you and you will play those the most. Just like today's CDs. We only have a few months before this gold record hits shelves, just enough time to grow out our hair and buy every can of hairspray imaginable.
CCC Project Coordinator