July 26, 2007

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Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ’80s (PS2)
Harmonix, 2007
By Glenn Given production@hippopress.com

Hey buddy, how teased do you like your hair? Really, that high?!?

The decade of lipstick and codpieces rolls out a playable soundtrack with Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ’80s. But here is the problem: I don’t want half of these songs. I was willing to accept the loser tracks on GH2 ’cause who wouldn’t pay a run through Avenged Sevenfold for the chance to crack riffs on “Freebird.” Don’t get me wrong; there are some gems here, Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck,” X’s “Los Angeles” and the Go-Gos’ “We Got the Beat,” but each genre of ’80s is thin on the ground. And that knocks a letter grade off for me. It’s obvious that any day now Harmonix is just gonna start churning out the downloadable tracks by the trainload (provided that they can ever straighten out their deals with the RIAA and give us some a la carte options) and on that day I will pick my ’80s soundtrack to air-not-air guitar to.

Equal portions of punk, metal, new wave and glam set the track list and, while the excellent franchise upgrades made in GH2 remain, there is no further development going on. Harmonix, I’ve bought your plastic guitar; now it’s time to bargain-price these songs and make your ducats on volume. Wait, you didn’t even put bonus track on Encore? Oh I suppose that it might have been too difficult to find a few songs from the underground bands of the Reagan era, huh? Lame. And Bow Wow Wow wherefore art thou? Preliminary track listings had “I Want Candy” dancing all up ons my PS2, but that beach ball got dropped, it seems. Sure your axe-wielding avatars have gotten an ’80s frat-party makeover, but that’s new wave, not new material. For what amounts to an expansion pack Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ’80s is frighteningly overpriced and under-developed. Shame shame shame, Harmonix. “I Wanna Rock” and have “Nuthin’ but a Good Time” but in the “Heat of the Moment” you decided to run me “Round and Round.” “What I Like About You” is that previously you put your “Balls to the Wall” and delivered some “Metal Health,” but, sadly, that’s not the case here. B- — Glenn Given