|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision / Red Octane||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4 (8 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Career mode is essentially the same as what you've always had in Guitar Hero. However, this time around does include the Bonus Challenges that helped bolster Guitar Hero - On Tour: Modern Hits for DS. These side objectives have players meeting specific goals (Ex.: Utilize the whammy bar for 30, 60, or 80 seconds on held notes). Successfully completing these challenges will net you rewards such as instrument skins and outfits.
Outside of the standard Career mode, the local and online competitive multiplayer options really offer a lot of engaging, diverse gameplay for more serious virtual musicians. RockFest gives players six modes of play with which to mix things up. Momentum constantly changes difficulty for individual players depending on how well they're executing. Perfectionist divides songs up into sections and rewards the player with the highest percentage at the end of the segment. Elimination drops the player with the lowest percentage out of the mix after each section, crowning the last man standing the champion. Do-or-Die penalizes players if they miss just three notes in a segment by temporarily freezing them, not allowing them to accrue points. As the name implies, Streakers gives exponential point bonuses to those players that put long note streaks together. Finally, Pro Face Off is the most straightforward of the bunch, as it is a head-to-head battle where all players play at the same difficulty with the same instrument to see who's the baddest. These multiplayer modes are all very well implemented and perfectly suited to improving the skill set of hardcore players.
Additionally, the Wii version also features two of its own modes exclusive to the system. Mii Freestyle mode is like Wii Music on crack. Instead of worrying about note streaks and even harmony, players can simply rock out and create their own note tracks by just playing to their heart's content. Also, DS owners can join in on the fun by controlling the lighting, camera angles, and setting off stage effects. Best of all, this mayhem can be recorded for posterity through video capturing, which can actually be shared through WiiConnect 24.
DS compatibility doesn't stop with behind the scenes production either. Guitar Hero 5 actually lets two DS players and two Wii players join up in Roadie Battle mode. Similar to the multiplayer antics established in Guitar Hero - On Tour, roadies (DS players) will try to sabotage the competition while efficiently repairing the damage caused by the other team. While this may sound a bit gimmicky, I assure you it's not - it's actually one of the best cross-platform features that has been implemented between the Wii and DS to date. The action is fast, furious, and a whole lot of fun.
On the graphics front, the visuals are the best they've ever been; though, that's not saying a whole lot. Still, the characters are livelier than ever and the environments are varied and engaging. Animations are better, but they still seem quite stiff compared to what's on offer for the other consoles. Also, singers' lips do not synch up particularly well with the songs, and jaggies are ever-present. Graciously, controls are much improved over previous versions. Note tracks are expertly laid out to mimic the songs, and the menu organization is very user-friendly. If you haven't gotten a guitar controller in a while, you may want to check out the new peripheral. The guitars are more realistic-looking than ever, are of much higher quality construction, offer interchangeable faceplates, and the slider bar functionality is even tighter.
Certainly, Guitar Hero 5 is the best title in the franchise's illustrious history. Furthermore, it is undeniably the best music game ever made, as it synthesizes the best of the genre into one neat package. The only question is, is this the reawakening of a phenomenon, or just a beautiful swan song? I guess only time will tell.
CCC Editor / News Director