Its additions and refinements make it the sharpest full-band game from Activision to date.
Last year's Guitar Hero: World Tour left a little to be desired as it came off as more of a response to Rock Band than a true innovation. The latest in the series, Guitar Hero 5, brings a bevy of new features and ideas to the table, and even a few cool ones exclusive to the Wii.
One of the best new features begins right after you boot up the game: a random song begins to play, and you can hop in on any instrument on any difficulty, and join in at anytime. It is great for anyone who just wants to hop into the game and play a song quickly, and eliminates the obtrusive menus from Quickplay.
The song list is full of variety with artists such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and such popular songs as Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Queen & David Bowie's "Under Pressure." There are 85 songs by 83 artists and like recent Guitar Hero games, all of the songs are unlocked in Quickplay so you don't have to work through the Career mode to play the songs if you don't want to. A majority of songs from past full-band Guitar Hero games can be imported for a nominal fee depending on the game, and a good majority of the downloadable content can be imported into the latest game free of charge.
The Career mode features a few refinements. The songs are broken up into different venues, and as you gain stars you unlock more songs and more venues. Like past games, you gain stars by getting high ratings on songs, but you can also get stars by doing bonus challenges that are different for each song. For example, the challenge might be to hit every hammer-on or pull-off without strumming. You can get up to three more stars depending on how well you do, and each bonus is specific to an instrument or collection of instruments.
Speaking of instruments, you can use any combination of them you desire. If all of your friends love guitar, all four of you can rock out on guitar; if two people want to sing and one person wants to play drums, you can do that as well.
Returning features, such as the GH Music Studio and Mii Freestyle, get some upgrades, but GH Music Studio is still limiting to would-be creators, and Mii Freestyle is still a one-note mode that gets old quickly. Guitar Hero 5 offers some connectivity to the DS with Roadie Battles. A guitarist and a DS-touting roadie team up and compete against other guitarist/roadie teams. Players control the roadie with the touch screen on the DS, protecting their guitarist's gear while trying to attack their opponent's gear. It's a frantic and fun mode that is a mix of the Battle mode introduced in Guitar Hero III and the Duel mode in the Guitar Hero DS games.
Guitar Hero 5 also features a lot of new multiplayer modes in addition to Roadie Battles. The headlining part of the multiplayer is the new RockFest mode. There are multiple different game types in this mode, ranging from Elimination (the worst player is booted after different segments of a song) to Momentum (difficulty shifts depending on how well a player is doing). The RockFest mode can be played with up to eight players online, and players can connect with each other using Wii System Codes instead of the troublesome 16-digit friend codes in almost every other online Wii game.
Simply put, Guitar Hero 5 is a fantastic and full-featured Wii rhythm game. You can import songs from past titles, you have a large and diverse set list to go through, and there are interesting new challenges to tackle. Any Guitar Hero fan with Wii instruments would be remiss to ignore this excellent title.