Guitar Hero continues its evolution of the music game that started it all. Even though the formula is pretty much the same, Guitar Hero 5 has just enough mojo to keep you coming back for more. Picking up from the pieces of World Tour, Guitar Hero 5 takes on more step towards creating the definitive music game.

The Guitar Hero franchise has done a great job keeping our fingers busy with a steady output of add-on's games for the rhythm based original. If you haven't had enough guitar-busting rock n' roll action from the numerous releases like Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Metallica and Smash Hits, then Neversoft's next evolution in the series should peak your interest. Building off of the foundation of World Tour, Guitar Hero 5 is more refined then ever. Just as you thought the power was going out in this tried and true formula, Neversoft and Activision have thrown in another generator to pump the franchise up to the next level.

Number Five is Alive
Keeping up with the times, Guitar Hero fans will have to purchase the latest edition of the game to get all the new goodies, and before you think you’re just throwing away money for a bunch of new songs, be rest assured that Guitar Hero 5 is more than its large track list. Sure, you will get those new songs, but you also get a more player friendly version. In its refined vision the career path surprisingly does away with its cartoon driven storyline cinematics. Guitar Hero 5 is a total straight shooter with a solid game experience at its core. With the pin-up cinematics kept to minimum Guitar Hero 5 finally feels like a true reworking of the game. Guitar Hero 5 might not be a revolution in the music gaming genre, but it is easily the best version of the game since Neversoft took over the helm.

Looking Better Than Ever
Like all the previous Guitar Hero games number five will make you feel at home as soon as the disc loads. The first thing you will probably notice are the improved graphics which makes Guitar Hero 5 stand out above its compeition. From the updated look of the GH characters you know and love, to the detail put into the real-life performers. Even with two of the new characters being diseased, their mannerisms, and image have been nailed it to a tee. Point blank, Guitar Hero 5 is stunning. The venues also look wilder than before with some great special effects that are more impressive then all the previous games. Comparing the PS3 version and the Xbox 360 the specs say that the PS3 version runs at a slightly lower resolution, but you probably won’t notice the difference. Really the two version stack up nicely together like they have done in the past.

In the past picking between the two versions usually rest upon which instruments you own, however in the lastest version of Guitar Hero, Xbox 360 owners have a little more insentive to stick to their white box. This insentive is the brilliant idea to make use of the standardised Xbox Avatars that every account is linked too. Rocking out with the Avatars looks a little out of place with the other models in Guitar Hero, but if you have all Avatars rocking out then it’s oddly more entertaining, now all we need is Home support.

A Whole New Way To Play
In Guitar Hero 5 you can stick to the more traditional gameplay modes or you can jump off into some of the new features in the game. Like older version you pick your rocker from the colourful cast of characters, or you can create your own hot-shot musician, complete with all the wardrobe and instrument customization options. From there the options open up with a simplified career mode, Party Play, Quick play and Rockfest modes, and that’s just the beginning.

One of the coolest features added to Guitar Hero 5 is the option rock out with any assortment of musicians which means you can have two singers, or three guitar players, whatever you want to do Guitar Hero 5 lets you. So, now no one has to be the guy stuck playing the bass, or some other instrument you’re not comfortable with. This opens up the most when you jump into the Party Play mode where players can drop in and out of the game at will. Unlike other versions where you would have to restart a song when new players wanted in on the action, you can just hit a button and come in at any point during a song. The Party mode also has a “no fail” clause slapped in thee so no matter what happens on the fret board; you’ll still be allowed to rock along with your buds. This is great for experimenting with new difficulties, or trying those tricky drums, or embarrassing vocal tracks that you might have strayed away from in the past.

The career mode has been adapted to give more freedom to the player with a new star system in place, and without those zany cartoons that never really made too much sense, you can get straight to the rocking. The career mode boasts 14 venues that have their own unique look and special effects that can be played in any order once they are unlocked. Along with a number of tracks to complete and points to gain you can now compete in song specific challenges, wild card challenges and rock out with some diverse guest performers including Shirley Manson (garbage), Carlos Santana, Johnny Cash and Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and more.

Fancy A Challenge?
The new song challenges have to be the best idea added to Guitar Hero in a long time. These challenges change from song to song and vary from instrumentation to objectives you have to complete. They all fall into different rewards for achieving the challenges in the Gold, Platinum, and Diamond levels. The rewards are things such as new wardrobes, guitar skins, and other goodies to play around with. For a quick example you might have to hit a certain amount of chords or snare hits in a song, or whammy on the bar for a certain amount of seconds, and so on. These added challenges greatly add to the value of the game and even when you are finished with the song you will probably feel a need to complete each challenge. Not only does this keep veteran Guitar Hero gamers busy, it also forces gamers to branch out and play the other instruments.

Star Powers Activate
The star ranking and powers have also been overhauled. Star Ranking now fills up while you play the song without making mistakes, do well and you’ll get an extra bonus star. The power meter is no longer split between your band members as you have your own meter. Don’t count out the band mojo although, when your meter fills up it will spill over to your mates in the band to help them out. There are also new band moments that happen when every member connects with a series of notes for a wild effect on screen. These little touches don’t really change the game too much, but they are nice innovations to make the game feel more welcoming to new players.

RockFest Live!
The new RockFest mode is a sweet multiplayer mode that lets four players locally, or eight players online compete with each other. The RockFest mini-games include Momentum (songs gradually get easier or harder depending on how well your doing), Perfectionist (Highest Percentage Wins), Elimination (last man standing), Do-or-Die (Missing three notes knocks players out temporarily), Streakers (streak points are rewarded), and Face Off (Head-to-Head Battles). Each mode is equally fun and great for party atmospheres. The online matches I participated in had no signs of lag which is very important.

From Metal to Country
The music in Guitar Hero 5 is the most diverse collection seen yet on one disc. Not only do they keep their faithful handful of rockers and trendy top 40 rock hits, they also branch out to get some old 80s pop songs and even some folk and country tracks. The diversity might not please some, but with any track listing you are bound to have your supporters and haters. It’s impossible to please everyone, all the time. In addition you also have access to the online store that is filled with over 100 songs and you can also import songs from your older Guitar Hero games including World Tour, Smash Hits and the upcoming Van Halen edition.

Back in the Studio
Finishing up Guitar Hero is the built-in music GHstudio that provides an output for your creative needs. The interface is a little more adept; however I haven’t spent too much time making music in the studio, outside fooling around for an hour or so. The samples seem like there are better than before which gives you a lot more to play around with and the entire system feels more in touch with the controller. From someone who has put their fare share of hours into CuBase, Acid and Soundforge, the GHstudio makes the best out its environment.

Guitar Hero 5 is the most refined version of an instrument based music game you can find. From the hardcore Guitar Hero fanatics to the casual gamer, Guitar Hero 5 has more features built into its gameplay to suit everyone. The engine has been upgraded to ensure gameplay is number one while a huge track list, new modes, updated graphics and featured rock stars come in second. All around Guitar Hero 5 is a major improvement over World Tour making this a definite buy.

Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 09.10.09

  • all around refined experience
  • new party play is a blast
  • song specific challenges are a brilliant addition
  • diverse track list
  • multiplayer is better than ever
  • improved visuals with dynamic environments
  • xbox 360 avatar support
  • track listing might be too diverse for some
  • at the end of the day, its still Guitar Hero

Similar Games: GH: Van Halen (6.2) | Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (8.0) | GH: Metallica (9.0)


Guitar Hero 5




US Release
Sept '09


PS3, X360

1-4 Players
MP Versus
5.1 Surround
1080i (Xbox360)
720p (PS3)
D/L Content
U/C Content