Review by Zantriel
Man my fingers hurt....
The third title in the phenomenon franchise that is Guitar Hero has finally been released, after great anticipation. Featuring new facets to the multiplayer, a host of new songs, and supposedly improved graphics, Guitar Hero III is sure to be one of this holiday season's best sellers. But how is it, really? I write this review assuming that you've played the previous Guitar Hero games, whether you own them all or just played at a friend's house.
The graphics on this game are supposedly upgraded, but I honestly don't see it. They're functional, and not bad by any stretch, but honestly in a game like this, they're not all that important. When you're furiously mashing your fingers on the frets, jamming as fast as you can to follow the notes onscreen, you're probably not watching the band in the background thinking "Wow, the resolution on that mic is fantastic, and the polygon count on the amps is really impressive". Though to be honest, I paid attention while a friend played the game, and the graphics really failed to impress me, even over Guitar Hero 2. The animation of the band members is freakishly muppetlike, except for the creepy, dead, unmoving face of new J-rock guitarist, Midori. My girlfriend plays as her, and she seriously creeps me out. It's like a creepy doll face.
This is one area where I REALLY felt the game shined over previous Guitar Hero titles. The tracks on the music are finally balanced, versus GH2's overbearing guitar track. I know that this is a guitar simulation, and you should hear the guitar track over everything else, but still....I really like most of these songs, and I'd like to hear the WHOLE song, not just the guitar riffs.
Song List: 6/10
This is where the game kind of takes a hit, in my opinion. Some may disagree with me, and I understand that it's a matter of taste. I did feel that they really balanced the classic rock with the new, and overall picked some pretty good tunes. Some of the songs that are on Guitar Hero 3 I absolutely loved. I giggled with glee as much as a man possibly can and still maintain dignity. Others I really, REALLY did not care for, or I felt were bad choices from the artists' repertoire. For example, I like the Dead Kennedys, but I felt Holiday In Cambodia was a terrible choice. Beyond personal taste, I thought they picked some terrible choices for actual guitar playing. For example, Bulls On Parade by Rage Against The Machine. I LOVE that song, but it was a terrible choice to play in the game. There's not much to play beyond DA da...DA DA da...DA da...DA DA da...over and over and over again. Same goes for Suck My Kiss by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
My other issue with the Song List is the bonus songs you can buy in the store. The ONLY one that I liked (again, personal taste) was Ruby by the Kaiser Chiefs, which I honestly feel should have been in the main game, not as a store song. And also, where was the Trogdor and Dethklok type of songs? I didn't expect those exact songs, but something that made the player go "No way! Seriously? THAT's on here? AWESOME!" Something silly and not REAL rock. The argument can be made that there is a Tenacious D song on the list of the main game, but let's face it...that's NOT one of the D's best songs by a long shot.
Okay let's face it. There's nothing new in the single player department, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". The game plays exactly like the previous incarnations of the series. Where it truly shines, however, is the multiplayer options. There is now a Co-Op Career mode, which features a completely different set list. You play through the entire game with a friend. One of you takes the guitar part, the other takes the bassline. It's a lot of fun, especially if you have a roommate or a boy/girlfriend who argues with you over who's hogging the guitar. There is also a new Battle Mode, in which players get Battle Power instead of Star Power, and you use a variety of moves to make your opponent screw up. I will say, however, that I only found Battle Mode to be fun in multiplayer. I really did not like having to battle the AI in the three "Boss Battles" found throughout Career Mode.
Where the gameplay loses points is in the difficulty level of the game. I will admit, I'm not a great Guitar Hero player. I can beat Medium and that's it. The fifth button completely throws me off. So when I played GH3, I started on Medium. The first few songs were surprisingly hard! In the middle of Career Mode, they became obscenely easy. I was getting 300-note streaks and 99% Notes Hit. It was ridiculous. Then all of a sudden, the last two tiers hit, and they became nigh impossible. I SCRAPED by with 3 stars. I still cannot beat the final Boss Battle. To give you another example, I know that there is an unlockable song by Dragonforce (which I have not unlocked yet). I have a friend that consistently gets 5-stars on Hard in GH2, and more often than not gets 5-stars on Expert. In GH3, he can't beat the Dragonforce song on MEDIUM.
Some people may see the difficulty level as a good thing, sort of a new challenge. But for those of us that are casual players, it's really thrown things off and taken some of the fun out of it. Whereas Guitar Hero 2 had a nice scale of song difficulties, Guitar Hero 3 seems to have two varieties....ridiculously easy or nigh impossible.
There's generally a lot to like about Guitar Hero 3, and it's a great game to pick up and play with your friends. It's flawed to be sure, but it still manages to be a lot of fun, and has new play aspects that are well worth the money. Plus, by its very nature, it has more or less infinite replay value, especially with the new multiplayer features. But overall I rate this game as a good solid followup to the masterpiece that was Guitar Hero 2, not the Next Great Thing we were hoping for.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (w/Guitar) (US, 10/28/07)
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