Reviewed: June 9, 2009
Released: June 9, 2009
Connects with Guitar Hero: On Tour
When Guitar Hero: On Tour Ė Decades released last November it had only been a few months since the original On Tour game debuted on the system. That second game was more of an expansion pack than anything else but now, with Guitar Hero: On Tour Ė Modern Hits we finally get some substantial gameplay changes to the core design that makes this latest release feel more like a fresh installment than a quick batch of new songs and venues. But for those looking to enhance their DS song library, rest assured that Modern Hits is able to connect and share music with both of the previous On Tour games allowing for a potential song library of more than 75 licensed tracks.
Iím a huge fan of Guitar Hero dating back to the original PS2 version, and I love the portability and playability of the DS version. The past two games have offered some pretty amazing gameplay, both single player and multiplayer, and a varied track list that has offered something for everyone. As eagerly dove into my Modern Hits review I was quickly concerned with my total lack of familiarity with the music chosen for this game. Out of the 28 tracks I was only familiar with about five songs and most of those were from previous music games. Since a music game is only as good as its track list I encourage you to study the following list of songs to see if there is enough here to justify a purchase.
Personally, Iím not a big fan of any of these songs save the one Evanescence track, so this isnít a game I would probably buy, but music taste is subjective, and while Iím not a fan of the songs, I do have to give credit to the significant changes in game design and presentation.
Modern Hits allows you to create your band and your own rocker, then dress them and equip them with a growing inventory of available guitars. You can then dive into Quickplay, Multiplayer, or face the challenges of embarking on your own Career to rock stardom. The Career mode sees the biggest update with new Opening Acts and Headlining Acts. A meter counts your fans and tracks your success as you unlock new venues and new opportunities to perform. You also have a new PDA interface that gives you post-performance feedback and updates from your band manager.
The song list is spread out over the various venues and types of acts. After you complete a song it is unlocked for possible Fan Requests - my favorite part of this new On Tour game. Fans will come up with all these challenges using the same songs youíve played at that venue, only now you have to meet certain objectives like getting a certain score, hitting a certain multiplier, whammying every sustain note, or launching a certain number of attacks in a guitar duel battle. These are further separated into lead and bass guitar challenges.
Itís a fantastic variety of gameplay opportunity, but it does get rather repetitive when you only have a few songs to choose from, at least in the very beginning. After completing my first opening act I only had two songs that were spread out across nine challenges. I was so sick of those songs by the time I had enough fans to unlock the next venue and more music. Even if I liked the music I wouldnít want to play the same songs over and over for the sake of fan-grinding.
Thankfully, the core gameplay doesnít change from what we have all come to know and love. You still strum and finger the frets just like you always did. Modern Hits features a robust multiplayer mode for versus and co-op and a challenging battle mode with cool attacks that make use of the unique features of the DS. You can set the other playerís guitar on fire and watch them blow out the flames by blowing into the mic. And instead of furiously tapping a fret button to restring your guitar you actually have to make the realistic motion of replacing a string. Youíll even get to sign autographs in mid-concert using the pick (or stylus). You also invoke Star Power by yelling ďROCK OUTĒ into the mic (or tapping a face button if you are in public). Actually, you can whistle, blow, or make just about any noise into the mic to invoke Star Power.
Modern Hits maintains that familiar look and feel with colorful and stylized art and animation. The 3D venues have certainly gotten more complex and the character animation has a lot more variety and is more realistic as is the TV-style camera coverage. The only downside to the entire visual experience is that the person playing doesn't have time to appreciate all these nice added touches. At least in the setup and menu screens you have time to appreciate the menu art and the vast assortment of guitars, costumes, and other upgrades.
The graphics really light up when you play the battle mode and start launching attacks at either the computer or another human opponent. There is a blinding flash photography effect, scorching fire that will consume your guitar until you blow it out, broken guitar strings, and an odd assortment of items that will get shoved in your face for autograph signing.
It will take several hours to complete the career mode and with the added Fan Request challenges you can expect even more optional fun with new and exciting way to play the same music over and over. And when you factor in the wireless multiplayer and the ability to share music between different versions of the game, there is no end in sight to your portable jam sessions.
Guitar Hero: On Tour Ė Modern Hits is a great addition to the portable franchise with some significant new gameplay enhancements that really broaden the scope of the gameplay. While Iím not a big fan of the music chosen for this release, I certainly wonít penalize the game or discourage anyone from purchasing it based on my own musical tastes. The gameplay is as fun as ever, with even more ways (or reasons) to play, so if you enjoy any or all of the music listed above then itís time to ROCK OUT with Modern Hits.