Guitar Hero World Tour (initially referred to as Guitar Hero IV or Guitar Hero IV: World Tour) is a music video game developed by Neversoft and published by RedOctane and Activision. It is the fourth main entry in the Guitar Hero series. The game was launched in North America in October 26, 2008 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 consoles, and a month later for Europe and Australia. A version of Guitar Hero World Tour for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh has also been announced for a release on July 26, 2009 and was the last Guitar Hero game published to these operating systems by Aspyr Media.
While the game continues to feature the use of a guitar-shaped controller to simulate the playing of rock music, Guitar Hero World Tour is the first game in the Guitar Hero series to feature drum and microphone controllers for percussion and vocal parts, similar in manner to the competing Rock Band series of games. The game allows users to create new songs through the "Music Studio" mode, which can then be uploaded and shared through a service known as "GHTunes".
World Tour received generally positive reviews with critics responding positively to the quality of the instrument controllers, the customization abilities, and improvements in the game's difficulty compared with the previous Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Some reviewers have commented on issues with poorly laid-out note tracks, the limited Career modes, and the difficulty of the music creation tool and the poor quality of the resulting songs.
Guitar Hero World Tour builds on the gameplay from previous Guitar Hero games, in which players attempt to simulate the playing of rock music using special guitar-shaped controllers. World Tour expands beyond the core guitar-based gameplay by introducing the ability to play drums and sing vocals, and supports the ability for up to four players to play together in a virtual band through these different instruments. Successfully hitting notes increases the player's or band's score, as well as increase the "Rock Meter" that represents the song's performance. Missed notes are not scored and negatively affect the Rock Meter. If the Rock Meter drops too low, the song ends prematurely, with the virtual audience booing the band off stage. Completing a consecutive series of notes successfully will increase a scoring multiplier for that player up to 4x. This multiplier is doubled when the player activates star power. Similar to Rock Band, the band shares a common score, scoring multiplier and band performance meter while each player has their own performance metric; the band also shares the same "Star Power" meter, though any player may activate it at any time. A player that performs poorly and reduces their performance meter to zero can still continue to play, but they drain the overall performance meter for the band, requiring the other players to make up for this. Successfully completing a song garners a three to five-star rating based on the accumulated score, and rewards such as in-game money that can be used to buy new guitars and outfits for characters.
The guitar interface remains relatively unchanged in World Tour. As with previous Guitar Hero titles, the guitar and bass player must hold down the correct fret button(s) on the controller while strumming in time with the notes as they scroll on-screen. One addition to the guitar gameplay is the ability to play notes while holding a sustained note. Additionally, the bass guitar player will be required to play notes representing an open E/Fb string, which is shown on-screen as a solid line across their note track. To play these notes, the bass guitar player strums the controller without pressing any fret button keys. The drum interface is similar to the guitar's interface, with each on-screen note track equivalent to a colored drum head on the controller, with the bass drum indicated by a line across the note track. The drum player only needs to hit the correct drum pads simultaneously to the note gems to successfully play their track. There are also marked sections on the drum part wherein the player may play any notes they wish in a 'solo' to gain points. The vocal track requires the player to match the pitch of the notes in a manner similar to Karaoke Revolution to be successful. Special sections of each players' note track are marked with glowing notes, which, if completed successfully, builds up Star Power. Once enough Star Power is accumulated, it can be released via various means to double the band's current score multiplier. For guitar and bass, this is done by lifting the guitar controller vertically or (though not in bass) by pressing a button on the guitar face; for drums, by striking both cymbal pads on the controller at the same time; for vocals, by tapping the microphone or making a similarly quick sound.
In addition to the standard four difficulty levels (Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert) for each song and instrument, a new Beginner level has been added in World Tour. This difficulty is aimed for younger and unskilled players; notes are generally simple straight lines in time with bass drum beats, and allowing any or no fret button to be held while the note is strummed (for lead and bass guitar), any drum to be hit (for drums), or any sound to be made (for vocals).
The primary single-player game mode is Career mode, which can be played on either the lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, or vocals. Career mode has been slightly altered from previous Guitar Hero games. After creating a band, selecting or creating an avatar, and then selecting an instrument, the player is then presented with one of several gigs containing two to five songs each. Most gigs end with an encore song that is not revealed until the other songs are completed. Two of the lead guitar gigs feature "boss challenges" with Zakk Wylde and Ted Nugent; these boss challenges, featuring original songs by Wylde and Nugent, are different from Guitar Hero III's boss battle, removing the focus on attack power-ups and instead featuring a call-and-response mechanic similar to the existing Face-Off mode. The gigs are arranged by difficulty based on the selected instrument. The player is awarded in-game money for each song completed, and completing each gig can also award additional money for meeting certain criteria, such as never letting the Rock Meter drop below a certain level or playing the first several notes of a song perfectly. Completing a gig can also unlock one or more gigs with more difficult songs to complete. Additional awards, such as customization items, are also awarded for completing gigs. The player's accumulated earnings across any of the single player Career Modes are tracked and used to rank the player's overall performance level.
Band Career mode is similar to the solo Career mode, with the game songs presented as several gigs to be completed. A band must have at least two players to proceed, but the second player may be either a local player or one over the network. Players may be at different levels of progression in the game, but will still gain benefits for successfully completing songs when playing together. After completing each gig, a magazine will appear on screen with the band featured on the cover.
The in-game interface features vocals along the top of the screen, and three tracks underneath, for bass, drums, and guitar; only tracks for active players will be shown. Full four-player bands can compete with other bands online in a Battle of the Bands mode.
Both single players and bands can play a setlist of up to six songs in Quickplay mode, still earning in-game money rewards for their performances. Existing competitive modes from the series, including the Battle Mode from Guitar Hero III, are also present in the game.
The Wii version of the game features a special "Mii Freestyle" mode that allows players to use their Miis as their characters as they improvise songs via the guitar and drum controllers or using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
Characters and Customization
Players are able to use the Create-a-Rocker mode which is based on the Create-a-Skater mode in Neversoft's Tony Hawk series and the advanced character creation scheme from the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series. Players can change their character's pose, clothing, tattoos, makeup, and age. Selected characters from previous Guitar Hero games are available as templates for creating a rocker. Previous games featured Gibson Guitars, but as a result of a lawsuit with Gibson Guitars, branded guitars are not featured; instead, the player can create a customized guitar from various components, such as bodies, fretboards, and headstocks. The player's in-game drum set and microphone can also be similarly customized. Activision had formed partnerships with several instrument equipment manufactures to featured in the game, including Ampeg, Audio-Technica, EMG Pickups, Ernie Ball, Evans Drumheads, Guitar Center, Krank Amplification, Mackie, Marshall, Orange County Drum & Percussion, Pork Pie Percussion, Regal Tip, Sabian, Vox, and Zildjian.
In addition to the computer- and player-controlled characters, avatars of notable musicians are featured in the game, either with motion capture or the licensing of their image for their character. Such artists include Hayley Williams, Jimi Hendrix, Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde, Billy Corgan, Sting, Ted Nugent, and Travis Barker.
New venues in the game include virtual recreations of real arenas, such as Ozzfest, Amoeba Music, Live Nation’s House of Blues, Sunset Strip and San Francisco’s AT&T Park. One venue showcases the trademark art style of Tool and was developed in collaboration with the band. World Tour is the first Activision game on the PlayStation 3 to support dynamic in-game advertising provided by IGA Worldwide; similar advertising for the Xbox 360 version is provided by Massive Incorporated.
RedOctane developed a new guitar controller for World Tour. The unit is approximately 25%(1/4) larger than previous controllers, making it closer to the size of a real guitar. The new controller includes a longer whammy bar and places the Star Power button directly below the strum bar, improving the access of these features. The strum bar itself was made quieter and longer. The neck of the guitar is detachable, similar to the Gibson Les Paul controller for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, but the connector has been hardened to avoid connection issues experienced with the previous unit.
The neck of the guitar features a touch-sensitive pad just below the normal five fret buttons. The player can use either the fret buttons or the touch pad to play regular notes. The pad also allows the player to play notes via tapping or via "tap strumming" similar to the slap bass method for bass guitar, and to alter the pitch of sustained notes. Guitar tracks feature notes connected by a semi-transparent purple line, (except for the Wii version, in which semi-transparent gems replace this purple line) called "Slider Gems"; the player can play these notes by sliding their fingers up and down the touch pad or by tapping the fret buttons without strumming. The touchpad can also be used for sustained and staccato notes in the music studio feature while recording guitar, and is used for finer control over loops when recording other instruments.
World Tour features a wireless six-piece drum kit, with a bass drum pedal and five velocity-sensitive drum pads for snare (red), two toms (green and blue), and two cymbals (yellow and orange), which Activision has stated provide the "most realistic drum experience ever in a video game". The drum kit was designed with help from John Devacka, the developer of MTV Drumscape, and developed key patents used for most modern music games that are now owned by Activision. Special note gems on the drum track are "armored", requiring the player to strike harder on the appropriate drum head in order to break the armor and score points. During song creation, the velocity sensitivity feature of the drum pad allows players to alter the sounds made by the drums. The drum set also has a MIDI input port in the back, allowing users to connect a compatible MIDI drum kit to play in the game. The Wii version of the drum controller includes a slot for the Wii Remote to fit into, enabling it to become wireless, much like the guitar controller introduced for the Wii version of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
The official microphone used for vocals uses a USB connection. When playing vocals, a gamepad or Wii Remote is necessary in order to navigate menus, select difficulties, and pause.
Logitech and Activision announced that the former company will produce "premium" instruments to be released later in 2008.
World Tour will work with older Guitar Hero guitar controllers. Activision stated during their E3 2008 press conference that Xbox 360 users will be able to use the existing Rock Band instrument controllers as well as other third party controllers in Guitar Hero World Tour; Rock Band instruments for the PlayStation 3 are not guaranteed to work in World Tour, though Sony is attempting to help make these units compatible. All Rock Band original Harmonix instruments for PlayStation 2 will work with World Tour. According to issue 027 of the UK's Official Playstation Magazine, all Guitar Hero and Rock Band PS3 controllers are cross-compatible with all games (except for Guitar Hero: World Tour drums on Rock Band, however some require patching, which is done automatically when connected to the internet).
Console makers have helped to ensure instrument compatibility between current and upcoming guitar and band games. Both Sony and Microsoft have announced that instruments for World Tour, Rock Band 2, and Konami's Rock Revolution will work between all three games on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Wii version of the game only supports guitar controllers from previous Guitar Hero games, and "no compatibility with any other peripherals". The Rock Band 2 Drums however, are compatible with Guitar Hero World Tour.
World Tour adjusts the tracks in the game to account for the instrument controller being used. For example, sections of the lead guitar track that are designed to be played on the new World Tour controller's touchpad can be played by tapping the frets on older controllers without strumming. When using Rock Band's drum controller, which has one fewer percussion pad than the World Tour unit and lacks velocity sensitivity, two of the lanes on the "World Tour" drum board merge, reducing the note track to four drum pads and bass pedal, and no armored notes are presented.
- Main article: Setlist in Guitar Hero World Tour
All of the 86 songs in the game are master recordings, a first for the series. Project director Brian Bright claims that they have "a pretty even split between the '80s, '90s, and classic rock" with a "good amount of emerging bands".
Guitar Hero World Tour allows players to create their own songs through the "Music Studio" and share them with others through the Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection internet capabilities. The Studio is similar to Apple's GarageBand software. The player can create the tracks for each song by playing it in real or slowed time, with the game quantizing offbeat notes to the nearest beat as set by the player, or tracks can be constructed one note at a time. The notes played by the user will be the default "Expert" difficulty track, and the lower difficulty versions will be generated by the game.
Players can create the tracks for lead, rhythm, and bass guitars and for drums, selecting from a number of different sounds and kits for each instrument. Distortion and other effects can be added to these tracks through Line 6 amplifiers in the "GHMix" mode. Players cannot record vocals directly, but can create a hum-along vocal line in the Studio. PlayStation 3 users with MIDI-compatible computers will also be able to connect their computer to the console and use it for song composition; a similar feature is sought for Xbox 360 owners. Eurogamer reported that a crew at Activision was able to successfully create a "perfectly respectable cover" version of the first verse of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana.