Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

The concept album.

This is quite interesting: Dave Mustaine from Megadeth has written a song for Warriors of Rock, the new Guitar Hero game. A Megadeth song designed, from the ground up, with note-tracking rather than, um, mosh-pitting in mind.

It's called Sudden Death - which, ironically, is what I was praying for around the one-minute mark (Just kidding!) - and it's a suitably busy piece of music, filling that endlessly rolling fret highway with dense lumps of multi-coloured challenge: brilliant, probably, if punishing.

Sudden Death's back-to-front conception is a reminder of the influence of rhythm action games: a reminder that, to a certain degree, they stepped in to save the music industry when the record industry was starting to bleed from the nose and stumble into doors.

The question, as Guitar Hero gets its sixth instalment - not counting all its spin-offs, because not all of them deserve to count - is who's going to step in to save rhythm-action games now that they're starting to look a bit wonky themselves. They're not bad exactly, just repetitive, over-exposed, and a bit, you know, played out.

The first real hint at Warriors of Rock's new direction will come when you unpack the box: the game's bespoke guitars are something else. Previous iterations grew increasingly ornate, sure, but they tended to stick to reality, aping the Gibsons and the Fenders of the world, albeit in smaller, tackier form.

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Quest Mode's presumably been inspired by the phenomenal critical and commercial success of Brutal Legend.

This time around, reality's going out the window. With all of the electronics now safely entombed in the neck, Neversoft's designers have gone mad with the body, offering elaborate exaggerations, parodies, and sweaty hallucinations of what a guitar could look like. The outer edges form talons or loops, lightning bolts and flames seem to have been frozen in sharp lumps of plastic towards the centre, and the whole thing takes on an over-extended, epic feel.

That's to match the game's new campaign. Guitar Hero - as I type this, the sky turns red and the lion settles down next to the lamb - has now taken a page or two out of the RPG playbook, and the result is Quest Mode: a grand storyline, narrated by Gene Simmons, in which the world's greatest rockers are transformed into warriors, before setting off on a dangerous mission to free a guitar from a plinth of stone and slay a hideous beast.

I'll give you a minute or so to take that in. If you're having trouble, don't worry: in reality, Quest Mode appears to be a smart visual glossing - about a centimetre thick - covering a more traditional arrangement of track listings and boss fights. Each chapter of the narrative - there's a world map, but it's basically just a very pretty menu, by the looks of it - is based around an individual venue, and, for the first time, songs are grouped together on a purely thematic basis.

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