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Stripping away the hardcore ingredients that made Guitar Hero 3 and World Tour so difficult to get into, Guitar Hero 5 changed its spots and became a wonderfully easy game for everyone to get into. With the annoying gameplay mechanics of the previous iterations eliminated, we found the Avatar support and the overall accessibility opening the experience up to the more casual players of my family.
Coming to this after the amazing Beatles Rock Band experience I was sceptical that anything Guitar Hero could throw my way would be special. After all, the only direction you can go after the Fab Four is down, especially when it comes to how accessible their music is. But to my surprise Guitar Hero 5 blew off its own hardcore shackles and opened up a new side that was instantly family friendly and less oppressive than I'm usually accustomed to. This newfangled approach was oddly served by a bizarre and awkward playlist that tried to be everything to everybody and yet appealed to no-one.
Guitar Hero's accessibility has always been a problem for me and my family. It's change from the pioneer of the rhythm music game moved dramatically towards the hardcore when Guitar Hero 3 was released. It wasn't that I didn't like a challenge or that the song list was especially inappropriate, but the general presentation and feel of the game dissuaded anyone else other than me to pick a guitar and play.
World Tour loosened the shackles a little from this stance but with Guitar Hero 5, I was so pleased to find that accessibility had been put first above all else. From the very start it was possible to just turn on an instrument and play a song before the menu had even shown itself. This made it great for just having on in the background whenever friends came over or whenever the kids were getting a little too much to bear.
It's another step on the way to making Guitar Hero a place where both casual and hardcore players can groove along together - a perfect mix that fits in with my family's skill level.
What's puzzled me in the past and served to infuriate my son is having to unlock songs in the story mode to play them anywhere else. But every song in the game was available to play in quick mode and this showed its importance when both my other half and my son joined me for a play session straight away.
All the way through the game we found the annoyances of World Tour had been rectified. What caused untold damage in the past was the shared star-power meter. Now each player has their own individual bar and saving band-mates when they aren't playing well no longer uses up that bar. Little changes like this just made the whole experience much less irritating and really encouraged my family to keep playing.
What stroke of genius made the biggest difference was the inclusion of Avatar support. Seeing everyone's Xbox360 Avatar rocking out within the world of the Guitar Hero game was a little odd at first - they definitely didn't fit in for me. But my son found this hugely entertaining and kept him playing along with me for a lot longer than usual. It's another step on the way to making Guitar Hero a place where both casual and hardcore players can groove along together - a perfect mix that fits in with my family's skill level.
the ease with which we could hop in and start playing the game made it a tremendous all-round experience.
If there's any area of the game that we didn't enjoy so much then it would be the song list. There's 85 songs on the disc but its has such a mix of modern and classic rock songs that we struggled to put together a decently sized playlist. Everyone in the family found a song that they liked but finding more than five became a bit of a challenge. I feel bad for criticising it for having such a variety in its songs but it terms of its longevity for us as a family it falls down a little.
But the ease with which we could hop in and start playing the game made it a tremendous all-round experience. This will still be the house of Beatles: Rock Band, but Guitar Hero 5 is without doubt the best game of its series and the most accessible to date. It felt welcoming and professional with its approach and it carried the most important ingredient to make this into a family gaming experience - fun.
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