Late last year, Gameloft delivered Guitar Rock Tour, which was essentially a Guitar Hero clone. While it was somewhat shameless how much GRT ‘borrowed’ the structure and mechanics of Guitar Hero, it was a good rhythm game that sold relatively well. So it comes as no surprise to us that Gameloft is hedging its bets with a sequel in Guitar Rock Tour 2. Is there enough here to justify forking out an additional $4.99 if you own the original?
If you’ve played Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you’ll immediately know what to do when the music starts. This a rhythm game that is all about being in sync with the music and tapping a rolling stream of note patterns.
Nope, no similarities to Rock Band or Guitar Hero at all…
Guitar Rock Tour 2 doesn’t deviate from its predecessor in many respects. The scrolling note track, ‘pyro’ meter, three-level difficulty system, scoring system, fictional characters, and career progression are all holdovers from the original. It seems like the developers went with an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. Unfortunately, our biggest gripe from a control perspective still applies. We continue to have issues with the game’s forced vertical orientation. This design decision makes playing chords an imprecise science, and it gets really annoying on the higher (faster) difficulty levels.
The biggest feature that makes the Guitar Rock Tour franchise different is the fact that you can play songs as a guitarist or a drummer. In both the Quick Play and Career Mode, picking your instrument creates a unique note track to play through. While playing as a guitarist is somewhat similar to the experience you’d see in a Tap Tap Revenge game, playing as a drummer still has a novel feel about it. You’ll feel like a badass pounding out complex patterns that power the music. Overall we felt that the note patterns were a little tighter and more rhythmic compared to the original, and the sturdy performance on our 3GS made gameplay smooth.
We’re happy to see that Guitar Rock Tour got a facelift with its visuals. Things weren’t ugly in the original, but the slickness here is undeniable. The menus are snappy and colorful while maintaining great loading times. As a cool touch, there are several selectable paint jobs that can be placed on your guitar.
Slapping some bass.
We feel that one area where Guitar Rock Tour 2 takes a step back is in its playlist. The original game had a well-rounded soundtrack with a variety of oldies and modern tracks. The 18 song tracklist here tilts toward the classic crowd with tracks from the 60s, 70s, and 80s dominating. If you love artists like David Bowie, Judas Priest, and The Knack, you won’t mind the classic emphasis. Here’s hoping that future DLC helps balance the selection a bit better.
Multiplayer gameplay over local wifi is the new big headline feature in Guitar Rock Tour 2. The formula is inspired by Guitar Hero 3’s ‘Battle Mode’. Your goal is to finish the song with a higher percentage of notes hit than your opponent. Completing special sequences successfully serves up a special attack that can be deployed at any time on your opponent. It works well, but it’s not exactly innovative.
Guitar Rock Tour 2 is a fine game, but it’s not the leap we expected to see nine months removed from its predecessor. Instead of sticking to the script while adding new graphics and a multiplayer mode, we would have loved to see an effort to take the franchise to the next level. Wouldn’t a ‘vocals’ mode that leverages the iPhone’s microphone be cool? How sweet would co-op modes be to truly assemble an impromptu rock band over the web? We recognize that these are ambitious undertakings, but we strongly feel that the Guitar Rock Tour franchise could be the vehicle to usher in a new generation of collaborative rhythm games for the iPhone.