Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so is it an even greater compliment when the one that was imitated then imitates the one who imitated them in the first place? Not really, no. I am of course, referring to Rock Band vs Guitar Hero, or more specifically, Rock Band 1&2 vs Guitar Hero World Tour.
For the uninitiated, the original programmers of Guitar Hero 1 and 2 (Harmonix) got bought by MTV Games, while the original publisher (Red Octane) kept the brand name Guitar Hero and then were bought by Activision. Harmonix created Rock Band, expanding on their 2 years of Guitar Hero experience (and many years of great rhythm games like Amplitude and Frequency) which included not only guitar and bass, but also drums and a mic. Activision created Guitar Hero 3 with dev studio Neversoft (get it? lol) which took the guitar playing to the next level. Both Guitar Hero 3 and Rock Band stood on their own, 2 significantly different products for the most part. Rock Band was easy to play with a constantly expanding set list for purchase, while Guitar Hero 3 pushed the limits of the guitar playing, especially in its difficulty and quality.
With Guitar Hero World Tour, Activision and Neversoft are trying to steal back their chunk of the market with a full band game, and for the most part, they do a good job. However, instead of taking the year to make a game that is better than Rock Band, World Tour is simply a Rock Band clone, failing in many of the areas that Rock Band 1 even succeeded in. But first, the good. The wider breadth of time to hit a note is a welcome return from GH3, you can crank or lower any individual instrument's volume, great for single player gaming, the character creating mode has good depth, the bass is given lots of attention with the no-fret strum, hammer ons and pull offs are a breeze to pull off (hehe), you can switch difficulty in the career mode at your leisure (like in RB2) and the bigger better drum set is more fun to play than Rock Bands thanks to a 5th pad and the cymbals, and the kit feels better overall. This is a fun game on its own.
However, when compared to other games, World Tour starts to falter. To start with, I really dislike the set list. I only care about 10 songs or so, and the rest are background noise. Normally, I find myself being won over by a few songs I have never heard before (Seven by Vagiant in RB for example) but World Tour simply lacks a great set list, and with Rock Band's nearly 500 songs, its a much bigger disappointment. The folks at Harmonix are musicians themselves and understand what plays great in the game, and what is good music in general. And the old Guitar Hero issues rear their ugly heads, like large segments of songs with nothing to play or only playing 1 or 2 notes (even on Hard) when there are really several to play.
Comparing Guitar Hero World Tour to the original Rock Band, even without the 500 songs, Rock Band still wins. Rock Band 2 creates an even wider gap in quality. I am still a HUGE Guitar Hero 3 fan, its the game I play when I want a quick solo session, even over my 200 Rock Band 2 songs. The lack of innovation and paltry set list don't even compare to a year old game. Don't get me wrong, I do not DISLIKE World Tour, I have had some fun, but I had higher hopes. On its own, World Tour is fun, and the drums are great, but it is a constant disappointment after playing other games from the same genre.