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In-Depth Review

Guitar Rock Tour

Given the raging success of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, I'm not surprised by the appearance of a game called Guitar Rock Tour. While it sounds like a lame rip-off in the vein of Puck-Man, however, it's actually an enjoyable game that kept me entertained.

I prefer Guitar Hero's little plastic instrument, but Guitar Rock Tour's use of the touchscreen does the job: tap the buttons at the bottom of the screen as the notes cascade toward you, with the option of sliding your finger across to hit those that are close together. It's akin to getting used to two-thumbed typing on your iPhone, but you'll get the hang of it.

The 3D graphics are solid; they're certainly within the range of what you can expect from the iPhone, which is around the era of the first Playstation. The songs include "Message in a Bottle" (The Police), "Heart-Shaped Box" (Nirvana), "Smoke on the Water" (Deep Purple), and many other recognizable tunes, although they're all played by cover bands. I suppose that makes the royalties cheaper. You can play either guitar or drums, with three levels of difficulty, although I preferred guitar; the drums only have two buttons to press, so it gets repetitive after a while. Those of you with great dexterity will have your work cut out for you, since the curve gets steep with the higher difficulty settings.

If that meter on the left hits the skull, your concert ends

As in Guitar Hero, you can accumulate special power that gives you extra points, or even clears out the notes on the screen, when invoked. It's a little clumsier to activate, though, because you have to move a thumb away to flip a switch, rather than simply tilting your plastic guitar. And since it's all touchscreen-based, if you don't flick it just right, you can wind up losing precious points as notes pass by while fumbling for it.

You can play either a quick song or go on tour; you'll need to do the latter if you want to unlock all of the tunes. The storyline in tour mode is only slightly more insipid than the stories in the Guitar Hero games, where at least the developers eschewed the silly, on-the-nose dialogue found here. But storylines are way down the priority list when reviewing games like this one.

Drums aren't as much fun

Earlier versions of Guitar Rock Tour had a tendency to crash more than they should. Having to reset your iPhone just to play was a pain, but a recent update seems to have fixed those stability problems. Some of the reviews on the App Store complain about long load times, but that's to be expected in a game like this one, where there's a lot more complexity than in, say, Tetris.

Overall, Guitar Rock Tour typifies what's great about the App Store: A great game with long-term replay value for a reasonable price. You can't go wrong there.

 

Just The Facts

Guitar Rock Tour from Gameloft

MSRP 7.99

Pros:

Great graphics and sound
Good replay value and challenging difficulty curve

Cons:

Drums are pointless, since guitar is more fun
Songs are covers

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