You could argue that Warriors of Rock isn't regressive; it's an homage to the franchise's origins, a celebration of hardcore guitar music. The 90 songs included on the disc support drums and vocals, but it's clear what the focus of the game is: being a guitar hero. If the franchise's penchant for crazy note maps hasn't satiated your strumming skills, you'll be glad to know that Warriors of Rock ups the ante by including the entirety of Rush's "2112" -- as a boss, of course.
Final boss? Yes, Warriors of Rock's big new feature is a Quest Mode, narrated by KISS' Gene Simmons. While I could rant about how it feels like it was written by (and for) twelve year old boys, I'll let Activision do the work. The fact sheet describes it as a "journey from the infamous stage of CBGBs to the molten lava fields of rock treachery ... to help the Demi-God of Rock take down 'The Beast' and save rock 'n roll." Tim Schafer would be rolling in his grave (if he were dead).
In order to defeat the Beast, you'll need to recruit the
You'll eventually be able to level up and combine these powers, letting you achieve ridiculous scores that go above and beyond the traditional five-star ranking system of the original games. With all my powers activated, I was able to reach 38 stars in one song. Would an absurd high score make you feel more like a rock god?
Activision has essentially "Tony Hawked" the Guitar Hero franchise.
The powers can be utilized in other modes of the game as well, such as the enhanced Quickplay+ mode. This mode promises to "push fans to the limit" by adding 13 challenges to each track on the disc, and "most" of the songs in the Guitar Hero library. Some of the challenges include meeting a certain score requirement on a single instrument, or using the story mode powers to reach a certain star threshold. There will be an element of strategy to these challenges; certain powers will be more beneficial than others, depending on the song.
It's hard to gauge how engaging the new powers and challenges will be in the long run. Do the challenges add more replay value to songs? Perhaps. But do they change the gameplay in any meaningful way? No. Activision has essentially "Tony Hawked" the Guitar Hero franchise -- focusing on features that appeal exclusively to point-chasers, without broadening its appeal, or fixing core aspects of the game. Although Warriors of Rock is the fifth full sequel to the franchise, the series has yet to even make a streamlined, attractive UI. (Strange, considering DJ Hero manages it just fine.)
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock isn't a bad game, per se. It's just a bad idea.