Full review: The Difficult Fourth Album

Few years ago the original Guitar Hero was launched on a somewhat unsuspecting US public, with a European release following around 5 months later. Until that point, most rhythm action games (with the exception of the Dance Dance Revolution/Dancing Stage titles) had gone largely unnoticed by the general public, but the ability to fulfil those lifelong dreams of being a rock and roll guitarist appealed to a far wider audience. Fast forward to the year 2008, where the seventh unique title in the Guitar Hero franchise has now emerged, and provided a new evolution for the series. The makers of the original two games, Harmonix, split from publishers Red Octane (who were gobbled up by Activision) and formed an alliance with MTV to bring us the sublime Rock Band. Now, for discerning music gamers, just a plastic guitar isn't enough. They want multiple instruments, and the ability to join with their friends and form virtual groups, both on and offline.Offering Drums and Vocals for the first time in a Guitar Hero game, World Tour has somewhat of a hard act to follow, thanks to Rock Band. However, we'll get to those instruments later, as the main focus still remains on the one that gave the game its name. For World Tour, the Guitar has undergone a bit of a redesign, getting more than just a new look. The d-pad now has the appearance of a volume knob, while the Back button has been enlarged significantly, and can be used to activate Star Power (score multipliers) without having to tilt the guitar upwards. The biggest new addition is the touch-sensitive slider bar on the neck of the guitar, which allows certain notes to be played just by tapping the buttons (without strumming), while some sections are played by sliding a finger up and down the bar. This additional portion is no doubt a response to the solo buttons found on the Rock Band guitar peripheral.Unfortunately, it proves to be a bit of a damp squib, as only a handful of songs use the sliding feature, and there's no real warning as to when you'll be beginning a section that does use it. Because of this, and the sheer speed that many tracks move it, it feels nigh-on impossible to move your hand to the bar in time when a shiny or strung-up note sequence appears, at least not without missing any notes. To make matters slightly worse, although this is detrimental to the peripheral rather than the game, the slider bar will not activate the solo notes in Rock Band, meaning you would still need to buy another guitar to get the most from the EA and Harmonix title. The Career has undergone some slight changes. Where before you could just play the tracks for a gig in any order you wanted, now you're forced to play them in sequence, with only minimal breaks between each song. The score screen at the end of each song disguises the next track being loaded in the background. Once a gig has been completed, you can go back to play the songs individually, though you can just use them in Quick Play when the gig is originally unlocked.