Guitar Hero 5 Preview
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2
Guitar Hero 5 box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Neversoft 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Activision 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept. 1, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4; up to 8 online 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Soiree Hero
by Jonathan Marx

June 8, 2009 - It seems like music and rhythm games may never get old; people just keep on gobbling up everything Activision and EA throw their way. Thankfully, this hasn’t stopped the two companies from innovating – as a consumer, you’ve got to love a little healthy competition! Guitar Hero 5 continues to improve the series by concentrating on a two key areas: making the game party and multiplayer-friendly.

Guitar Hero 5 screenshot

Of course, Guitar Hero 5 will feature a stellar list of artists that run the gamut of rock. In total, there will be 85 songs getting packed into the game disc, and many of the bands are featured for the first time in any music game (check out the end of this article for the complete list of included artists). We were fortunate enough to sit in on a private showing of the game at E3 2009 and got a great idea of what we can expect from this next installment. The house band played through Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and Arctic Monkeys’ “Brainstorm.” While having to sit on a couch, taking notes, and listening to others play through these songs on the surface may seem like a futile endeavor, the devs at Neversoft were careful to point out all of the subtle changes that make this version of the game the best yet.

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First, we paid special attention to Party Play mode. While standard Guitar Hero play is still on offer, this new mode really helps set the title apart. This time around, players can use Guitar Hero 5 as if it were simply background music. Not only can you just let the music flow through perhaps the best set of speakers in your house, you can also create playlists to suit your musical taste. This may not seem like such a huge innovation, but the fact that you can now jump in and out of songs whenever you want with whatever mix of instruments you prefer without failing or even missing a beat is perfect for parties. Literally, players can pick up a controller, select the difficulty, and start jamming out mid-song. Moreover, you can even switch instrument type and difficulty setting on the fly. This should go a long way toward making the game more accessible to players in a social setting – no more compromising or time wasting while wading through menus. Now we get to just pick up and jam!

Guitar Hero 5 screenshot

Second, a load of multiplayer modes have been included that go far beyond the battle modes of the past. In the Momentum mode, the game continually adjusts the difficulty setting in order to reflect how well you’re playing. If you’re able to build up to and maintain expert level, you’ll accrue a ton of points. Then there’s Elimination mode, which will fire off the trailing player at specific intervals. In Streakers, players need to keep their consecutive note count high. Perfectionist has players trying to maximize their percentage during specific phrases through the song track. Finally, Do-or-Die penalizes competitors if they don’t perfectly hit a given phrase by locking out their ability to participate for a short time. If you’d like to experience the entire smorgasbord of competitive goodness, players can choose the RockFest function and work their way through all the game types. All multiplayer modes seem to be very well thought out and highly entertaining. Many of them even seem to work well for breeding competition between players of distinct skill levels through handicapping, however, players of high skill level will likely get the most enjoyment out of the multiplayer modes.

More subtle yet crucial improvements to the game include a new Star Power mechanic (no longer a shared pool of points but rather tracked individually), enhanced tools for GHTunes (yet to be revealed), and greatly improved guitar peripherals that are “spot on.” In fact, instruments are so accurate now that the developers have been able to really run with the instrument tracks. Players will find the guitar tacks especially are more “expressive” than they ever have been. Whammy and slide sections have been completely overhauled to make for the most immersive Guitar Hero experience to date.

Guitar Hero 5 screenshot

Though Guitar Hero 5 is another entry in a long line of similar titles, the development crew at Neversoft has really gone above and beyond in an attempt to bring another level of fun to a convention-laden genre. The stellar, varied list of 85 master tracks, uber-flexible Party Play mode, great set of multiplayer features, and enhanced peripherals and instrument tracks should help Guitar Hero 5 set it apart from both the competition and itself. Look for Guitar Hero 5 to hit store shelves on September 1, 2009. Until then, you’ll have to be content with the artist list featured below.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

  • 3 Doors Down
  • A Perfect Circle
  • AFI
  • Attack! Attack!
  • Band Of Horses
  • Beastie Boys
  • Beck
  • Billy Idol
  • Billy Squier
  • Blink-182
  • Blur
  • Bob Dylan
  • Bon Jovi
  • Brand New
  • Bush
  • Children of Bodom
  • Coldplay
  • Darker My Love
  • Darkest Hour
  • David Bowie
  • Deep Purple
  • Dire Straits
  • Duran Duran
  • Eagles Of Death Metal
  • Elliott Smith
  • Elton John
  • Face to Face
  • Garbage
  • Gorillaz
  • Gov't Mule
  • Grand Funk Railroad
  • Iggy Pop
  • Iron Maiden
  • Jeff Beck
  • Jimmy Eat World
  • John Mellencamp
  • Johnny Cash
  • Kaiser Chiefs
  • King Crimson
  • Kings Of Leon
  • Kiss
  • Love and Rockets
  • Megadeth
  • Mötley Crüe
  • Muse
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Nirvana
  • No Doubt
  • Peter Frampton
  • Public Enemy Featuring Zakk Wylde
  • Queen & David Bowie
  • Queens Of The Stone Age
  • Rammstein
  • Rose Hill Drive
  • Rush
  • Santana
  • Scars On Broadway
  • Screaming Trees
  • Smashing Pumpkins
  • Sonic Youth
  • Spacehog
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Sublime
  • Sunny Day Real Estate
  • T. Rex
  • The Bronx
  • The Derek Trucks Band
  • The Duke Spirit
  • The Killers
  • The Police
  • The Raconteurs
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Sword
  • The White Stripes
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Thrice
  • Tom Petty
  • Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • TV On The Radio
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Weezer
  • Wild Cherry
  • Wolfmother

Game Features:

  • Party Play mode lets you play whatever you want whenever you want with drop in / drop out play.
  • Expanded competitive multiplayer options will keep the party rockin’!
  • The extensive list of 85 master tracks are sure to please music lovers of all stripes.
  • Subtle improvements to gameplay mechanics and instrument tracks make this the most immersive Guitar Hero title yet.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Guitar Hero 5 screenshot - click to enlarge Guitar Hero 5 screenshot - click to enlarge Guitar Hero 5 screenshot - click to enlarge Guitar Hero 5 screenshot - click to enlarge Guitar Hero 5 screenshot - click to enlarge Guitar Hero 5 screenshot - click to enlarge Guitar Hero 5 screenshot - click to enlarge

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