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Guitar Hero 5

For: Mobile   Also on: Windows Phone

We don't need another hero. Do we?

Product: Guitar Hero 5 Mobile | Developer: Glu Mobile | Publisher: Activision Blizzard | Format: Mobile | Genre: Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Format: J2ME | File size: 809KB | Reviewed on: N81 8GB other handsets | Version: Europe
Guitar Hero 5 Mobile Mobile, thumbnail 1
Reviewers are known to groan inwardly when yet another match-three puzzle game adorns their micro-screen, and it's starting to get a bit that way with music/rhythm games, too.

What is there to say about them? The gameplay never deviates from pressing one of three buttons in time with the tune, and track list changes, but only to another set of ear-piercing midi files.

Only in the case of Guitar Hero 5, we actually have real music. That's right.

Prick up your ears

Let's get right to the good stuff. The weak point of any mobile-based music game is - rather ironically - the music. Despite being audio communication devices, mobiles tend to suck worse than a Christian rock group when it comes to blaring out songs.

For the first time (that I've ever seen, at least) Guitar Hero 5 asks if you want to connect to the internet before each round begins so it can download the actual song - not just a midi earache.

The download times are impressively short, and although it's going to rack up some data charges the tracks are clearly very compressed to lessen the impact as much as possible.

And there's no denying the fact that it completely changes the game itself. A music game without the music (which is pretty much every other game in this genre on mobile) seems self-defeating, but with the right tunes it genuinely comes to life.

Of course, if you're lucky enough to be equipped with a wi-fi enabled mobile - as I was for the review - you're not actually digging a data charge hole.

But if paying a few pence for the songs isn't something you're particularly willing to do, fear not. The game automatically reverts to the built-in midi files of the same songs if you refuse it access to the data network.

It's all about image

I may not have much natural rhythm (though I like to think I make up for that with my street smarts) but much of the time the notes moving down the pretend fretboard really don't look to match up with the music.

There are moments when striking up a rhythm in time with the music helps you hit the top scores, but the notes continue moving even during silent parts of the music, which makes a lie of the entire concept.

In terms of presentation, Guitar Hero 5 easily holds its own against all the other millions upon trillions of music/rhythm games, with terribly arty menu screens and a decent representation of a stage and guitarist. But nothing that would sell the game on its own.

The saving grace of Guitar Hero 5 is undoubtedly its approach to getting some real music into this otherwise tuneless mobile gaming genre, and in that respect it's a complete success.

Underneath it all we're looking at a standard music/rhythm game, but the addition of actual MP3s automatically elevates Guitar Hero 5 into the mobile rock and roll hall of fame.
Guitar Hero 5
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 3 December 2009
An off-the-shelf music/rhythm game made unique by the fact that real audio tracks are available to replace the usual, ear-rending midi files. Whether you'll want to pay the data charges for downloading them each and every game is a different matter
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