The Guitar Hero: World Tour drum set is a very different beast from the Rock Band kits. Rather than four pads and a bass pedal, it has three pads, two cymbals, and a bass pedal. It is by far a more realistic drum kit than we have had before, which makes an already very challenging yet satisfying game even better. At first glance, this is as close to playing real drums as you are going to get without spending a heck of a lot more money.
On paper the drums seem great, but in practice they suffer from some pretty serious problems. The biggest issue is that the construction of the set is surprisingly poor. The legs don’t really lock in place very well, and even with normal play the legs will start to slide down. This is a problem, obviously, when you are playing and the pads are a couple inches lower than you expected them to be. One solution we found is to slide a section of PVC pipe over the upper legs so that the pipe is actually holding up the kit rather than the legs themselves. You could also put a piece of wood inside the bottom part of the legs so that even if the top part tried to slide down it would just hit the wood and stop. This would be a little more aesthetically pleasing since it would all be hidden. Either way, this problem is something that you will absolutely need to fix.
Something else that seems like it might be an issue that actually isn’t is that the bass pedal doesn’t attach to the set the way the RB pedal does. It does have little rubber pads on the bottom as well as a strip of Velcro that actually does a surprisingly good job of holding the pedal in place on carpet. Part of the reason is that you don’t have to press the pedal very hard. There is actually very little movement between uncrompressed and pressed down, so you don’t have to use nearly as much force to move it which means you shouldn’t be sliding it around too much. Again, the construction seems to be an issue with the pedal as there is a lot of lateral movement in the pedal, which could potentially put a lot of strain on the plastic pieces and cause it to break. Which means that the same over zealous drummer that broke your first Rock Band pedal should probably be under constant surveillance when playing GH: WT.
There have been some issues with sensitivity of the pads and cymbals, most notably the red pad has to be hit very hard on some kits to register, but you can tune the drums to play how you like with this PC application from Red Octane. It requires a midi-USB cable, and if you need one of those you can get one for free right here.
Once you get the drums tuned up and under more solid footing so they are actually stable, the experience is very good. They make about the same amount of noise as the RB2 drums, but it is a more hollow bass sound that is a lot more pleasing. The drum pads are also very rubbery and bouncy and feel really, really good while you are playing. I like the RB2 drums, but in terms of feel the GH:WT drums are pretty darn awesome. Playing with the cymbals is also very cool.
The question, ultimately, though, is whether or not it is worth an additional investment if you already have another drum set. The drums work just fine with RB2, just as the RB2 drums work find in GH:WT, so no worries about cross-compatibility. Because of their design, I would have to say this. Get the GH:WT drums if you play by yourself or you have friends that are already decent drummers. Get the RB2 drums if you play with friends and family a lot as they are far easier to use. Currently the drums are only available in the full band kit for $190.
And now onto the undisputed best part of the Guitar Hero: World Tour experience, the guitar. Go ahead. Try to dispute it. You can’t! The GH:WT guitar is easily the nicest looking plastic guitar released yet. It has a sort of feaux-Stratocaster shape with a gorgeous sunburst color pattern on the body and just looks awesome.
Performance wise, the guitar is just as solid as you could hope for. It features a detachable neck like the GH3 Les Paul, but the connection between the neck and body is different and much more solid, so there shouldn’t be any problems. The strum bar is nice and wide and easy to hit, and the fret buttons feel very nice.
New features include a new “Star Power” button located near the strum bar and positioned perpendicular to it. The idea is that instead of lifting the guitar to activate star power, you press the button with the heel of your palm. It is a nice idea, but unless you play in a goofy position it is kind of hard to use. Luckily, the old way still works. Another new feature is the touch pad on the neck of the guitar. Basically, it is the same thing as the extra frets on the Rock Band guitars as they just give you another set of frets to play. Functionally, however, the touch pad is hard to use as sensitivity is a major issue as well as actually using it is difficult since it is hard to tell where on the pad you are, which leads to missed notes. Using the touch pad is optional, thankfully. Some people have reported that their touch pad is malfunctioning, but you can turn off the feature entirely in the pause menu (but not the options from the main menu).
All in all, my final verdict on the GH:WT guitar is a solid BUY IT! It is easily the best guitar controller yet. Pick it up in the Guitar Hero: World Tour game+guitar kit for $100.
Get the guitar. Skip the drums for now.