Ah, Guitar Hero. remember playing the first game fondly, hearing songs that I'd never heard before, getting into a lot of the lesser-known hits. Good times with friends were had. Then more of the series kept coming out, more and more, and I just got, well, bored of how it all seemed to lack that punch that the first game gave.
Warriors of Rock, the latest in the series, looks to be an attempt by developers Neversoft to reinvigorate the series somewhat, bring in some changes to the basic formula while going back to the focus of the guitars, and the rocking out with thereof. The story mode certainly is different, though whether it has changed for the better or worse is a little tougher to say.
The single player game has undergone the biggest change in the series: you must rally the 'Warriors of Rock' to save all that is rock'n'roll, playing through their setlists to earn stars, eventually turning them from mild-mannered rockers to the warriors they're destined to be. With each warrior comes a power, such as being able to never get a multiplier below x2, or earning star power every ten notes or so. Though this has little bearing as you play through each warrior's set (since there's no real choice involved), in the finale and Quick Play, your option of what warrior you want to play as, including their evolved versions, can affect your playstyle per song quite dramatically.
Each warrior represents a genre of music, such as punk or western, but other than that there's no real organization to the music. This creates difficulty spikes all over the place that tend to surprise the player and disrupt the flow that the game has for it. There's no difficulty listing or anything like that anywhere (except in the Quick Play section). Even the concept of earning stars, which have been fairly consisten throughout the series, is wildly different, since some rockers can earn up to 10 stars a song, others scraping by with much, much less even on the simpler tunes, so you're never quite sure how well you're doing.
The single player form of the game is fun enough, but aside from the dressing of the plot and warrior powers, there's no real gameplay there that hasn't been seen before. Whether or not the music is good is utterly and entirely objective (though strumming to the piano in Bohemian Rhapsody is definitely quite odd), so it's up to you to see if you enjoy the setlist. Since the game is built using Guitar Hero 5's engine, there's nothing new to get acquainted to, so it's all about the songs.
Quick Play+ does offer a large amount of replayability. Instead of simply having the option to play through the songs though that is good too each song comes with packs of challenges for you or a band to overcome, if you're feeling ambitious. This ranges from playing the right amount of notes in a section to utilizing the oft-avoided up-and-down strumming technique, to hitting as many star note streaks as you can. And of course even though the game is very guitar-oriented, there's a multitude of ways to get a band together, whether it's the standard or non-standard variety.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock is a very strong attempt to do something different. With the many, many Guitar Hero games that have come out recently, this is a pretty good thing. And yet, even with all the differences, it still feels like the same old hat. Perhaps a huge fan of the series would get more enjoyment from yet another game where they can strum along to some of their favourite songs, but for others, it may just be more of the same.