Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
key review info
- Game: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Gamepad support: N/a
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Guitar Hero has become a modern rockin' phenomenon just like Woodstock, Rock Am Ring or.... Tenacious D. Even if it's not a band, an event or a new Metallica album, the game is still a media product that can turn into a rocker's hobby or a pop fan's favorite pastime. We're 3 days away from the official US launch and almost a month away from the European release and it's time for a close look at the title, that gravitates around major industry players like Activision and Neversoft.
On a Highway to Hell
Let me begin by saying that Activision and all the other companies involved in the promotion of GH III pulled out a stunner, by allowing us gamers to download the demo version of the game (also available HERE) and burn it on a DVD or CD, playing it on our Xbox 360 consoles afterwards. They've become pioneers of the industry by doing so, although the demo was also made available on the Xbox Live Marketplace a couple of days later. After seeing the demo surfacing online I feared that hackers might use it to find a weakness of the console or the game... A few days later, GH III, in its full version was leaked online, so it seems that my worst fears came true.
Leaving all this sour-tasting piracy issues aside, we're back to the musical game of the year, as the next year will probably be dominated by Rock Band or an improbable Guitar Hero IV. In case you've played the demo, you might be familiar with the fact that there are a couple of neat songs included giving you a taste of how the final song list will look live. For now we only get to rock with Pat Benatar and his 1980 hit "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", Pearl Jam's 1991 song "Even Flow" or the "Rock You Like a Hurricane" anthem performed by Scorpions. Tenacious D is also present on the demo's tracklist, together with Priestess, but in the full game you'll get to battle Tom Morello and the brilliant Slash, as you aim to become the best guitarist in the world.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Aerosmith, Disturbed, Muse and tons of other old-school and brand new bands are included in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, as you'll see for yourself by playing the full game. GH III features 8 major "levels" so to say, that grant you access to a new and more difficult collection of songs or battle with a guitar god. The list of bonus tracks is also impressive and you'll be surprised to find names like In Flames or Lacuna Coil on the list.
Headbanging all night long
In case you've missed the previous Guitar Hero games (3 of them for the record), let me tell you what GH III is all about. Basically it's a musical game that allows the players to use a guitar-shaped controller to simulate playing a real guitar. The screen shows a couple of scrolling notes that you'll have to play by timing your button presses right. The Xbox 360 version of the game includes a wireless guitar joystick, but the controller is also available on other platforms in its wired version. The latest Guitar Hero title is the first in the series that features competitive and co-op modes, available online.
In the demo version of GH III, you'll be able to try the practice mode, by choosing a song, an instrument (bass or guitar) and a difficulty mode (easy, medium, hard, expert). Depending on the song you've chosen, you'll be able to play the full version of the tune, or only parts of it, like the intro, the first verse or bridge, the chorus or that hardcore breakdown. There's also a speed selection in case you want to get accustomed to the song, in the slowest, slower, slow and full speed mode. This Guitar Hero is surely not boring, as even the loading screens were spiced up with funny quotes like "Smashed guitars just seem to sound better", " It can always be much louder" or "Never ever leave the singer in charge of the mix".
The venues included in this installment of the most famous musical game series are quite original and good looking, ranging from a strip bar lookalike to a canyon setting, where the concert takes place at night. You'll also take a tour to Japan and even play in Hell, battling the devil himself as one of the bosses. In case you want to start a multiplayer face-off, there's always that innovative Battle Mode, similar to the Pro Face-Off from GH II. The two players will have to compete against each other and play their songs, while trying to finish Star Power sequences. By doing that, they'll be granted new attacks, which can be used against their opponent. You can store up to 3 attacks and unleash them at any time by tilting the guitar upward.
Making the Video
Guitar Hero III is more vivid and colorful than the past games, putting to good use the graphical power of the Xbox 360. The on-screen characters have far more natural moves, while the lead singer manages to synchronize his/her lips with the song. Couldn't quite see if the guitarist was performing the notes all right, as I was too busy with getting my notes right. Also, you'll feel right away that you've missed a note, because the sound of the miss is more disturbing and the song's melodic line seems to be broken in case you mess up.
The star power meter and rock meter have become smaller, but they still look decent and they're useful in case you want to find out when the next combo will be available or what the public's opinion on your performance is. In case you forgot, the Star Power meter can be filled by getting all the star shaped notes right or by using the whammy bar while hitting them. Once you trigger the Star Power, it will be used as a multiplier for your points and it will also keep the Rock meter on a great level, allowing you to pass more difficult segments of the songs without failing it.
Graphically the game is an eye-candy in itself, from the urban and metal menus, to the hip and old-school characters or those spikehead punks. The guitars look superb, the locations are well done and the entire band looks as real as it gets, for a musical videogame. Feedback is essential as you're not playing for dummies and you'll get it throughout your performance, because the public can make you feel like a god by screaming and applauding or ruin your day by booing.
Guitar Hero III is everything we expected it to be and more... It stays true to the developer's promise to deliver an authentic rocking experience and does that with the aid of revamped graphics, 71 brand new songs, original characters, cool venues and the same gameplay systems that conquered gamers worldwide. Ad a new battle mode in the mix and a great online support for co-op and competitive modes and you've got yourself the best musical title ever. Will Rock Band be able to take over the throne from Guitar Hero III? We'll find that out soon enough, but for now, the latest GH title remains the champ and the number 1 party game for hardcore rockers.