Putting those plastic guitars and drum kits to good use, Guitar Hero 5 is a music game that lets you channel your inner "Rock God" and play along with more than 85 songs. Watching as the coloured notes make their way down the screen, it's up to you to hold the relevant button on the neck of the guitar, and strum as the note passes over a line near the bottom of the screen. It's actually surprisingly intuitive when you have an instrument in your hand, and is a lot easier to pick up and play than you may imagine.
Compatible with either the Rock Band or Guitar Hero instruments, if you already have a few plastic guitars or a drum kit knocking about the place, you should be good to go. Playable either on your own, as the lead guitar, bass, vocals or drums, or with a few friends as your own band, it's in the multiplayer that Guitar Hero 5 really comes into its own - which makes it perfect for families looking to play together.
In terms of children playing on their own, anyone who's played a Rock Band or Guitar Hero game should quickly find themselves at home here, but there are also a few new features to help newer players find their footing too. Perhaps the biggest new addition is that of beginner mode, which lets you simply strum your guitar without having to worry about holding any note buttons. As long as you strum at the right time, you'll get the points, no matter which notes you're holding. With four other difficulty levels on offer, each of which adds more notes and complexity, there's plenty of scope for new players to find their footings and climb the ladder as and when they feel able. The only real obstacle to younger players is that they may find the controllers a bit on the large side, especially the guitar. While they could always happily rock out on the vocals or drums, the buttons are pretty far apart on the neck of the guitar, and you're sometimes expected to hold two or more buttons together (on some of the harder difficulties) which may make it a bit challenging for smaller children with a smaller reach. Other than that, there's very little in the way of reading required once they've worked their way around the menus - and it may even help them decide to take up an instrument in real life!
As a game based heavily around rock music, you may expect a few dodgy themes from Guitar Hero 5, but there's surprisingly little for parents to worry about here. Any severe swear words have already been edited out in true "radio edit" fashion, so the strongest that's left is the odd "b*tch". In terms of sex, outside of a few very mild references in a few of the songs (the Kings of Leon's "My Sex is on Fire", and a line that mentions a strip tease in Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" being possibly the worst offenders, which should give you some idea of how mild we're talking), the strongest you really ever see visually is one of the female animated backing dancers cavorting around a pole. Again, it's all very mild, but potentially towards the more teenage end of the scale.