Rock and Roll isn’t something you do, it’s something you are
Guitar Hero 3
Platform: Xbox 360 (reviewed), PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2
Price: $99.99, $89.99 on the Wii (Shop.Ars)
There are fourstages of playing a Guitar Hero game when you're a beginner. First, you know you're going to look foolish, and you're going to fail a bunch of songs. Then, you play a little bit and you start to "get" it; you understand how the notes work, and your fingerslimber up.Next, you start to really nail the solos on easy, and soon you're getting enough confidence to play medium songs. Lastly, addiction kicks in, and suddenly you're playing songs with the guitar behind your back and your friends cheering you on while waiting for their turn. This is a game where friends teach friends how to play so they have more co-op partners; it's practically viral.
The display has been slightly tweaked, but play remains the same
The Guitar Hero series has become a huge hit, and these days rhythm games are big news. It looked like Guitar Hero was going to conquer the Earth, but then Activision bought Red Octane, MTV bought Harmonix, and before anyone could get their bearings in this strange new world, Guitar Hero 3 was being developed by Neversoft, and Rock Bandburst onto the scene as a game with all the instruments. Things didn't look so good for the Guitar Hero franchise; the easy story would be that the new developers don'tunderstand the heart of the game, and so the third installment is a shell of a title—you're better off waiting for Rock Band.
However, if you went to pick up a copy of Guitar Hero on any of the platforms during one of the many midnight launches, you'll know that Rock Band has done little to steal the Hero thunder. People were lining up, talking about the song list, and debating over which system to get the game on. Turn the game on and the art might be a little different, but at its heartwereall the best things about Guitar Hero. With the release of Guitar Hero III we now have proof that the franchise is far from dead. Neversoft and Red Octane have weathered the loss of Harmonix with grace.
The only thing that would make this game better would be if I could play the slide guitar with the neck of my beer bottle. You can't have everything.
Techno tried to defile the metal, but techno was proven wrong
The basic game play of Guitar Hero hasn't changed, and I doubt it ever will. The notes come down from the top of the screen, you hit the corresponding buttons on the neck of the guitar, and you save up your star power to get the big points. The additions that have been made to Guitar Hero 3 are all things players have asked for in the past, and the game is better for them.
The returning characters have all been re-imagined
Wireless guitarsare standard? Yes. More master tracks? Sure, although the "re-united" Sex Pistols doing "Anarchy in the UK" sound much, much worse than the original version. Hammer-ons and pull-offs, the notes that you can hit without slamming the strum bar again, have gotten easier tonail from Guitar Hero 2, and while that move may divide fans, I think overall that it's smart.
Don't worry, you will still be challenged by later songs. The way the songs are "coded" with notes is very different in this game: there are new patterns to master, and there was certainly no fearof putting in long runs of three-note-at-once fills.
If you've been a hardcore Guitar Hero 2 player, there will be a few things you'll have to unlearn. The new gamefeatures notes you'll have to strum in the middle of long hammer-on fills, which takes getting used to. The changes in timing from game to game means that there will be a learning period, and some players may hate the new style—itmight be a good idea todemo a few songs before picking up the game if you're picky.
The biggest difference in the career mode is the addition of boss battles. You'll actually get into guitar battles with Slash, Tom Morello, and a surprise end-game boss who isn't a well-kept secret (but won't be ruined for you here). The boss battles radically change the dynamic of Guitar Hero, since you can't just out-score your opponent. Instead of star power, you get guitar-based attacks like broken strings and "amp overload" which makes the notes hard to see.
You have to pick your moments to unleash these attacks, and it's not rare to play exceedingly poorly and still win because of a difficulty-up attack mixed with an attack that forces the boss to jam on the whammy bar instead of focusing on notes. It takes some of the fun out of the game, and it doesn't help that the character models for the real-world guitar players are caricatured versions of their actual faces that look somewhat frightening.
These boss battles are often much harder than the songs directly before and after them, and are frustrating rather than fun. While the battle mechanic may be fun in small doses against a friend (there is a battle mode in both online and offline multiplayer), it feels out of place in the main game.
Keep in mind that many of these songs are the original master tracks. This means that Neversoft didn't have as much freedom when it came to mixing the tracks for the game. Some songs, in particular Tenacious D's "The Metal" and Metallica's "One," feature vocals WAY down in the mix. It can be distracting when you're used to the original cut and you're straining to hear the words. Luckily, the covers this time are easier to overlook, and there are no utter travesties like Guitar Hero 2's "Killing in the Name Of."
Everything else in the career mode feels bigger: better animations for the characters (did Judy Nails put on some weight or is it just me?) larger and better animated venues, and a funnier "story" of your band's rise to fame. The product placement, which is blatant and distracting,seems like a cash grab, but otherwise this is a game that lives on next-gen platforms, instead of feeling like it was ported over to them.
Except for your lead singer. That guy is UGLY.