There comes a time in many a rock band’s career when its members have to make a tough decision.
Do they stick with what they’ve got, churning out familiar hits to please their loyal (if limited) fanbase? Or do they put it all on the line and attempt to move onwards and upwards, ruthlessly shedding any who don’t have the vision or drive to accompany them?
The Guitar Hero series has reached that point on Android. If Warriors of Rock is anything to go by, it appears to be taking the safe route.
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock continues the Android trend of copying Glu’s Java formula, characterised by iffy 2D graphics and mediocre sound quality.
Admittedly, the latter is much improved nowadays, with the possibility of downloading 'high quality' tracks to tap along to rather than the cheesy midi versions. While this is an improvement, it’s still not great quality, resembling a buzzy AM radio more than a pristine CD.
The music itself is a matter of preference, focusing this time on the kind of hoary old rock (and modern tracks 'inspired by' hoary old rock) that will either thrill you or leave you totally cold.
There’s a loose Career mode tying these tracks together, but the focus is still very much on beat-matching – three strands of music scrolling down the screen, loosely representing the guitar work going on in the background. The idea is to tap and hold the virtual buttons in sync with the track.
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The trouble is, it still doesn’t feel like you’re playing a guitar. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like you’re playing an instrument of any kind, so poor is the synching. You can adjust the timings, but can you really be bothered?
Especially as – and this is where our introductory analogy comes in - you’re paying a fiver for a Java-standard game, when there’s a far superior version of Guitar Hero now on Apple’s App Store for a third of the price. Isn’t it time the Guitar Hero franchise stepped up to that elite level on Android too?
Whether it’s Glu that takes this step or, as with the iPhone version, Activision Blizzard itself, it doesn’t really matter. But as things are, the Android franchise is just going through the motions on stage, playing at a venue that’s well below where it should be.