Top positive review
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Party Play is the New Standard
on November 2, 2009
I own about every Guitar Hero and Rock Band Game, and this one makes a huge leap forward. If you like playing these games in a party setting, or if you have kids who get frustrated by failing (or are constantly wanting to change instruments), then you are going to LOVE GH5's party play.
Essentially, the game starts up playing a random song from the game. Hit start for the main menu, or just hit the yellow button on your guitar or drum controller to just start playing that song. The game will randomly cycle through all the songs in the game (plus what you've downloaded and imported - more on importing songs later), and any player can join in at any time by hitting the yellow button. That person then selects their difficulty level and their note "highway" is added to the game (everyone already playing has their highway shift over to accomodate the newcomer). Also gone is the restriction on only one person playing "guitar" (in the past, only one guitar and one bass player allowed). Now you can have three guitarists, three bassists, three drummers, or any combination thereof (as well as multiple singers, too).
One of the best parts of party play is that when you hit pause on your controller, it only pauses YOUR higway (and the game picks up your music track and plays it while your game is paused). Everyone else keeps jamming while you get a drink, answer the phone, go to the bathroom, adjust your strap, pick up that dropped drumstick, etc. When you get back, you just hop back in. You can also change your difficulty mid-song, and you can select your own playlist in party play mode. If you have small kids or newbies who like to jam, but haven't mastered the game yet, party play is NO FAIL. Also returning from GH World Tour is the beginner difficulty level which, on guitar, has no colored notes, just the strum bar. Party Play is the new gold standard of music games.
The rest of the game plays just like World Tour or Smash Hits, and the included music is good, but that's up to your personal taste.
So why only four stars? While GH5 allows you to import songs from your previously purchased GH games like Metallica, World Tour, Smash Hits and Band Hero, unfortunately you can only import some (not even most) songs from these games (except Band Hero, where you get a majority of the songs). Worse, you don't get some of the best songs from WT and SH. The GH folks need to fix this right away. There's no excuse for the poor percentage of transferrable songs. Fortunately, almost all of your downloads for GHWT are playable here (no Hendrix). The one bright spot is that 61 of the 65 tracks on Band Hero are exportable to GH5. Let's hope that one day all these tracks will work on GH5 and newer games.
All in all, this game is a great improvement in the genre and unless you always play alone, you'll love it.