Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ‘80s

by Eden
author awarded score: 60/100

Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ‘80s Review
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: Activision
Format Reviewed: PS2
Reviewed by: Eden

Big fan of Guitar Hero here, actually big fan of quite a few peripheral driven gaming franchises. I still play the original Guitar Hero, unlike most of the others games gathering dust in my vast collection. Needless to say I was hanging out to review Guitar Hero Encore Rocks the 80s, so gladly took up the challenge to riff it to pieces.

Guitar Hero Encore Rocks the 80s is essentially more of the same. Let’s get that out of the way up front since there’s no hiding it, the overall look has Guitar Hero II smeared lovingly all over it. There won’t be any surprises graphically with this one, it’s just another addition with different tunes and a few little graphical tweaks such as different colour schemes and a few additions to the characters. Hmm did anyone say kaching cash in?

Guitar Hero virgins (on the off-chance one reads this review) may have a few problems with this title as the learning curve just doesn’t seem as forgiving as it does on the other titles in the series. Some of the early songs seem somehow misplaced in the ranking, which may leave the beginner more than a little frustrated. It would seem the developers may have gone with the assumption that anyone purchasing this title is already a Guitar Hero junky.

Those of you pussycats out there that aren’t aficionados of the Guitar peripheral, the idea of Guitar Hero is a simple one, coloured icons will float down screen on a guitars neck / fret-board area. The games controller is a small ‘toy’ Guitar with matching coloured buttons on the neck and it’s your job to press these in time with those onscreen, whilst using the strum bar (placed roughly where you would strum if actually playing guitar). There’s also the whammy bar and tilt mechanism for those that truly want to rock out.

Music to my pointy ears… what the frack? Where are the good tunes, this was the 80s, a time of soft rock and many classic tunes in this genre. Seemingly most of the classics must have cost too much to licence, so we’re left with something that feels a little lacklustre to say the least. There are a few stand out tracks, just as there were on Guitar Hero II, but for anyone new to the series, this gamer would have to suggest buying the original in the series to truly get that riff kicking feel. Nothing like riffing it up to songs you actually know. Needless to say, the deaf or hard of hearing gamer isn’t going to enjoy Guitar Hero titles to the extent their hearing counterparts will. That said a deaf friend sticks headphones on and tells me she can ‘feel the beat’ and play it no problem, to the point where she kicks my ass, but let’s not talk about that.

Female gamers can at least play in the knowledge they can utilise a girly guitarist; as with the other Guitar Hero titles, female playable characters are included for the masses. Girl gamers can play as any of the characters obviously, though they’ll probably opt for pop icon ‘Izzy’, trendsetter and rock bitch ‘Pandora’ or the rather cool rock chick with the regular name of ‘Judy’. What character you play has little bearing on the game overall, other than seeing them strut their stuff on stage. Actually you’ll be so busy watching the button icons whiz by, you won’t really get to see them spin guitars and do that much at all.

Lowdown… It’s not all good sadly. Given the songs just aren’t that great, there’s really not much here that is going to rope Guitar Hero virgins in. For Guitar Hero fans, they too may well be more than a little letdown with the ‘quality’ of the tunes. It seems that with each incarnation, the song selection gets a little worse, which doesn’t bode well for Guitar Hero III, due out later this year on most formats. That said, at least it will feature some known artists, such as ZZ Top, Iron Maiden, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and more. Guitar Hero 80’s however just lacks the pulling power, with it’s stand out tune probably being Ballroom Blitz (strangely a 70’s classic and not 80’s at all). As a seasoned Guitar Hero fanatic, my advice would be, purchase them in order, start with the original as it’s the best. By the end of that game you’ll love Guitar Hero so much, you’ll part with cash for crappy songs, which in this case seems to have been the idea.