Saturday, August 24

Gamer Galaxy: Guitar Hero Encore


“Guitar Hero Encore:

Rocks the ’80s”

ACTIVISION

If anything could make you fall in love with the ’80s, it would be “Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ’80s.”

Technically the third installment in the Guitar Hero series, “Rocks the ’80s” is packaged as an “encore edition.”

It seems like an expansion pack to “Guitar Hero II,” but it functions as a standalone game. Essentially, though, it is just a game of bonus ’80s tracks. Classic ’80s songs such as A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran (So Far Away)” and Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” make the soundtrack.

Despite the lack of major changes, head bangers and ’80s hipsters can still get amped over this game. In fact, this edition may prove easier for even amateur players, since many ’80s songs have lighter guitar solos and relatively simple, repeating riffs. The songs are a breeze to play through except for the final encore, “Play With Me” by Extreme, which may require a bit of practice in order to master.

Most importantly, “Guitar Hero Encore” is faithful to its characteristically good song sets and unique gameplay.

But while “Guitar Hero Encore” might be a nice game to add to the quiver of previous installments, it falls short as a full-priced standalone game. The gameplay is identical to “Guitar Hero II,” requiring both the special guitar peripheral controller and requiring the gamer to have the same “totally rad” shredding skills.

The aesthetics of the game also feel slightly skeletal, as if haphazardly tacked onto the “Guitar Hero II” design. Only a bit of the artwork is cleverly updated, such as the developer logos during the game introduction, which are written in pixelated video game fonts reminiscent of the original Nintendo Entertainment System era.

There are fewer characters to play with in this version, though some are decked out in their best ’80s headbands and shoulder pads. The other band members though look exactly the same as in “Guitar Hero II,” as do the venues ““ the only ’80s vibe exuded from the venues is the additional neon decor.

“Guitar Hero Encore” is also priced the same as “Guitar Hero II,” but there are only 30 songs to play, as opposed to “Guitar Hero II’s” 40 songs plus another 24 bonus tracks. There are no bonus tracks, and there are only a handful of actual master tracks since most of the songs are covers. The game can easily be beaten in a couple of hours, which is uncomfortably short.

But while it lacks many of the features of the first and second “Guitar Hero” installments, “Guitar Hero Encore” is certainly just as enjoyable to play.

For hard-core fans however, this edition is best used to bide the time until “Guitar Hero III” comes out this fall.

““ Jessica Lum

E-mail Lum at [email protected]

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