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Not Much of an Illustrious Career

Guitar Hero 5 Review for Xbox 360

The career mode has always been a bit of a weak point for the Guitar Hero franchise, especially when compared to the much more robust experience that you can get out of the Rock Band franchise. Unfortunately, this tradition is continuing with Guitar Hero 5.

While you are almost giving the “venue” experience of Rock Band, you are still playing songs in sequence, unlocking them as you go along in Guitar Hero 5. You need to earn a certain number of stars to get more stars in your current venue and to unlock more venues. Unlike previous iterations, Neversoft didn’t even feign an attempt at making a story for this career mode.

One aspect that I really disliked was the lack of multi-track setlists. You always play one song at a time and, unlike Rock Band, there really is no punishment for failing a song. There’s also very little in way of a reward, since all the tracks are unlocked from the beginning for Quickplay and Party Play.

More Challenges and More Stars

Along with the usual (up to) five stars that you can earn with each song, each track is also accompanied by a bonus challenge for up to three more stars. Some of these cater to individual instruments, while others get you to work as a band. The challenges can be to hit a certain number of notes, hitting the whammy bar for a certain duration, or achieving a certain score.


You can see the progress on these bonus challenges by the little disc that fills up on the side of the screen. The first level (gold) lands one bonus star, the second level (platinum) is two stars, and the third level (diamond) is three stars. As you can see, hitting enough of these challenges can substantially increase your star count over the course of your virtual career and they add an extra point of interest during your so-called world tour.

Final Thoughts

If you’re expecting something groundbreaking or revolutionary with Guitar Hero 5, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. It’s the same old Guitar Hero gameplay that you’ve come to know and love, along with the drums and vocals introduced in Guitar Hero World Tour. You hit notes, wow the crowd, and bask in your rock star glory.

Guitar Hero 5 Review for Xbox 360

As before, you have the opportunity to unlock “real” stars to play as in the game. For this go-around, you can get Kurt Cobain, Carlos Santana, Shirley Manson (Garbage) and Matt Bellamy (Muse). These characters can be fun at first, but they lose their novelty appeal quite quickly. Playing as my Avatar is more interesting, actually.

The career mode leaves a lot to be desired, but Party Play is a nice innovation that will be a welcome addition for all the party people in the audience. Dropping in and out, as well as the ability to use any combination of instruments, is a nice way to play with both experts and novices alike.

In the end, Guitar Hero 5 pretty well does what you expect it to do, keeping the formula largely untouched. I just wish the career mode was more rewarding.


  • Same band-based rhythm gameplay
  • Party Play mode is great
  • Track listing is mostly current and relevant
  • Xbox Avatar integration


  • Career mode is still disappointing
  • No major innovations in gameplay
  • Just an expensive track pack

Overall Rating: 7.5 / 10.0

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