Accessory Review: Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Guitar Controller

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Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock launched this week, and so far the game seems to be getting hammered on pretty good by many reviewers. Not so here. I’m around 40% through the new Quest Mode, and personally I’m enjoying it more than any Guitar Hero game since the first two PS2 installments. Go figure.

I’ll have a review of the game for you next week, but to kick things off I’d like to first talk about the new guitar controller that comes packaged with the game for $100 (and in the $180 “Super Bundle” with drums and a mic). I wasn’t expecting it since I’ve received bundles in the past and typically only get copies of the standalone games to review nowadays, but this time, since the guitar controller has been redesigned I suppose, Activision sent over a guitar bundle for me to shred with. So, before I dissect the game itself, I figured I might as well share my impressions of the new guitar.

Now, I’ve been using the standard guitar controller from the Rock Band 2 bundle for a while, so I don’t have any of the more recent Guitar Hero controllers to directly compare this one to (I don’t think my older PS2 model counts). However, in comparison to the Rock Band 2 guitar, the new Warriors of Rock controller is miles better.

The heft of the controller is rock solid, and it feels incredibly sturdy in your hands. The fret buttons and whammy bar also have a nice resistance to them, and the strum bar has a satisfying clicky feel to it that delivers tangible feedback which really helps with timing as you play along. Of course, that clickiness can also be an audible distraction, as the strum bar does make a fairly loud clicking sound when plucked up and down. Playing with headphones on definitely helps drown out the noise, although it may still annoy spectators or even someone in the next room.

Two other features I like are its dedicated Star Power button placed behind the strum bar in perfect position for you to bump it with the heel of your hand without having to move it out of place (it’s also helpful because this guitar’s tilt sensor seems much harder to trigger than others), and its “Home” button which rests at the center of an analog nub control pad used for menu navigation. Oh, and it also has a really long neck strap, which is something I’ve been wanting for a long time.

Again, these things may be carry-overs from a previous Guitar Hero controller, but they are major improvements over the hardware I’ve been using.

Completely brand new to the Warriors of Rock axe, however, is its customizability. Hidden in a compartment in the neck of the guitar, where the batteries and USB sensor are also stored, is a lever which you hold down to detach the “wings” that make up the shape and design of the guitar’s body. This new feature, in theory, allows you to change the look of the guitar without having to buy a new one altogether. But right now, the only alternative is an axe head design GameStop offered as a pre-order bonus – and unfortunately these axe head wings are shabbily made.

Swapping out the wings is a fairly simple process – I recorded a video of the process and embedded it at the bottom of the page if you’d like to see how it works – and the stock flaming wings included with the guitar lock in tightly and are ergonomically sound. However, the axe head wings are a pain in the ass to detach once they’re in, which is very odd because they also don’t fit firmly into the guitar either. The bottom wing in particular shifts around when you hold it, and the pointed edges of the axe blade jab into your hands.

Shoddiness of the swappable axe blade wings aside, the new Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock guitar is a sweet piece of kit, and if you’re itching to upgrade from an older model this is definitely the way to go. The overall design of the controller is as solid and playable as can be, and the detachable parts (the tip of the guitar also slides off) make it even easier to store. The potential for customization is also promising, but there’s been no word on if, when or how optional wings will be offered, and if newer options are eventually sold they’ll have to be constructed a hell of a lot better than the axe blade to be worth considering.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!