Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks The 80's

Year: 2007
Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Harmonix
Genre: Rhythm
Review Date: 2/9/09
Rating: **(*)

Following the success of "Guitar Hero II" (2006), a special "Rocks The 80's" version came out that focused solely on those glorious days of spandex, big hair, neon, and mainstream acceptance of heavy metal. Unfortunately, with the exception of the excellent song list, everything in the game is a disappointment. It's basically just a re-skinned add-on to "Guitar Hero II" with less content. The venues, characters, guitars, and finishes are the same, only there are fewer of them to choose from. Judy Nails and Pandora made the cut and get garish 80's makeovers, but Casey Lynch is curiously absent. There are only thirty songs to play and no bonus songs, which makes the game go by rather quickly. There are also no alternate costumes to purchase, which is a real shame considering the time period of the game. The gameplay is identical to GH2, although it boasts easier hammer-ons and pull-offs. However, I couldn't notice a difference. Overall, the true value of the package is whether you like the music or not, and having grown up in the 80's I found it delightful. I knew almost all of the songs already, which makes playing along to them a lot more fun. There are only a couple of duds on the list, including Winger's deplorable "Seventeen." (which is also the hardest song to play in the entire game) Even more than in GH2, the cover artists are really hard to listen to. Perhaps it's because I'm more familiar with the music and have a deeper emotional attachment to it, but I think it's also because vocalists like Kevin DuBrow, Ronnie James Dio, Udo Dirkschneider, Klaus Meine, Marc Storace, and Rob Halford are extremely hard to emulate without sounding ridiculous. Even with its disappointments, "Rocks The 80's" is a fun diversion, and the thrill of playing along to Iron Maiden's "Wrathchild" is an indescribable joy.