Seeing all of the advertising for Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s
really makes me mad. I'm not necessarily mad at just Activision for delivering what is the most expensive expansion disc ever sold-- but I'm also mad at myself for caving into the hype and shelling out $50 for what amounted to about three hours of play.
Let's clear this up early: Again, Guitar Hero Encore
is not a full game. It may be priced as one. It may be packaged as one. It isn't, though. The game's setlist contains less than half of the tracks that Guitar Hero II offered (30 tracks, to be exact) and offers sparse unlockables, which puts a serious dent in the single-player campaign.
What Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s
does is offer more guitar-playing goodness, even if the 80s theme may not be universally understood or endorsed by the series' fanbase. There are certainly some good tracks here, and even a couple of challenging ones... but many of the songs of the 80s didn't have the types of guitar riffs and solos that series veterans have come to expect.
Unfortunately, the quality of the covers (performed once again by Wavegroup) is inconsistent. I dare you to listen to the original version of Asia's "Heat of the Moment"
and then listen to the cover in this game. It's not even close. What's worse, the vocal work can be painful... play Winger's "Seventeen"
for an example. Ugh. This is not to say that all of Wavegroup's work is bad here; there's a pretty convincing version of Billy Squier's "Lonely is the Night
" and a decent workup of Quiet Riot's "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)
" . There are some master tracks here as well, including "I Ran
" by A Flock of Seagulls and a later-recorded version of Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock
". On a lame note, there's also an inclusion of a master track by Limozeen called "Because, It's Midnite
" that is in there as a laugher only. Why waste one of 30 precious tracks on this tripe?
Once you've played through all of the songs, earned your cash, and beaten the game... that's really about it. There are no songs to unlock here, and there's only one character to buy. There aren't any alternative outfits for any of the characters, either. Basically, you'll use your money to buy a showroom's worth of different guitars. Yay. What's the point of that? They don't sound any different.
The rest of the game, aesthetically speaking, is Guitar Hero II
in 80s clothing. Some of the outfits are a laugh to look it, and there are a few sbutle changes for each of the venues-- although Stonehenge is strangely absent. The animations are as good as ever, and the varying camera angles give the visuals that live perfomance feel. There's really nothing wrong here, although there's nothing really new, either.
Many fans of the Guitar Hero
series, like me, have already made the decision to buy this game and are scratching our heads now. I've even seen some used copies on shelves already. Now Guitar Hero III
is in the hands of Neversoft, while Harmonix sets out on a new venture with Rock Band
. Expectations are high for both games, but this game has left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth and I'm left to wonder if Activision will allow another game of lesser quality to hit stores.