We have all the iterations of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, as well as some karaoke games. We are both musicians. Here's our review of World Tour after playing it for four months and giving it a thorough workout.
First, I'll note that I am reviewing the equipment SEPARATELY since many people are using this game with equipment they already have. With that comment, I'll caveat that part of why we waited 4 months to do a review is because of HORRENDOUS repeated problems with the drums.
So, on to the game. The makers of Rock Band and Guitar Hero are in essence "dueling" and each coming out with a new game one after the other, borrowing improvements from each other. This latest version of Guitar Hero improves the facial graphics a bit, lets you play stars for star power even if you're already activated, has the audience singing along with you, and has a HUGE amount of character customization available.
The game is organized in locations, represented by walls with posters of set-lists on them. If you play all of the posters on a given wall, you unlock special goodies. Some of the gigs require a cash deposit, encouraging you to play other songs to rack up your bank account.
There are some simple tutorials, a custom song-making utility, and the usual combination of quick-play and career mode.
I always enter each new game with an open mind, and part of why we play these for so long before reviewing them is to ensure we don't down-rate one game just because we'd been playing the other one non-stop for 8 weeks straight previously. Still, here it really did not help.
While I like the bonuses for group effort, the whole setup for group play really bothers us. Star power only applies to the person who activates it. This means one person can "steal" all the star power, which does not make for band harmony. Also, it means one person can't "save" another person! If the drummer is having all sorts of trouble, HE has to somehow manage to hit the combo to activate star power to save himself. If he's in that much trouble, usually the effort will sink him into death. Also, star power keeps draining even if there are long, empty stretches without notes.
Some of their "performance bonuses" are questionable. As a guitarist I once got a Hot Start bonus (for doing well at the beginning of a song) for hitting just one note.
I still lobby for a length bar for the song, so you know how close to the end of it you are. It would be very helpful for songs you're new to.
Also, the display for how the group is doing is really awful. It is nearly impossible to look over there and see how your teammates are doing, how the group as a whole is doing, how much star power remains, or anything.
I do like the purple lines that connect sequences of notes, encouraging you to hit them all in a row. But to me that's not enough to make up for the other problems.
I'm not saying the game is awful - but I'm saying that right now on the market are two competing games - Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2. Both offer microphone, guitars and drums. Both were "launched" by the original Rock Band which was the first game to offer the guitars / singing / drums combo and break that ice. While I think Guitar Hero's franchise has made a valiant effort to enter the arena and ramp up their game to include the other instruments, I still find Rock Band 2 to be far superior in playability.
As if to solidify this, we have friends come over occasionally to play with us and usually we pull out Rock Band 1 / 2. This last time someone came over, we pulled out Guitar Hero World Tour for them to play with. Both were musicians who weren't gamers. They had an AWFUL time with this game.
If you're new to the music-gaming world, I would recommend going with Rock Band 2 over this game. Between the instrument issues and the gameplay issues, it's simply the better choice.
Buy Guitar Hero World Tour from Amazon.com