Review by Zork86

Reviewed: 01/28/08

Not Legendary by any means but a good game none the less.

Guitar Hero has pretty much changed the face of rhythm games forever it seems. DDR is no longer the King or the most popular of these kinds of games but rather the exact opposite of the spectrum has taken that place, Rock music with plastic guitars. I’ve played Guitar Hero 1 and 2, and I enjoyed them both quite well but they were by no means perfect games. Some of the song list might rub people the wrong way during play, either by not caring for half of the track list or because a song seems way harder than it should be, but better yet, if you played on Hard or Expert, you had to play through each set list and you had no choice but to do so, and each list only had four songs and an encore. Then of course came some of the BS moments as I like to refer to them while playing, where you swear to whatever god or deity you believe in that you HIT that note but it didn’t happen.

But the games were still very much fun. Then Guitar Hero III came out. With it came some changes but honestly very few. What were those changes? You’re about to find out.

Presentation

GH3’s overall presentation is pretty much the same as it was before in the other games. Same options, still no surround sound or any other kind of sound options which is sad. There are a few new things though. There are short animated cutscenes that tell the very loose story of your band and what they do, they don’t really speak but they talk in a language that you can’t understand, gibberish if you will. I thought these were a pretty nice touch and most of them were pretty funny.

The other thing they’ve changed is the HUD when you play. The rock meter, star power gauge and note counter and multiplier are different, and honestly I like it better. There are also much more alternate outfit choices for your rockers and some pretty snazzy guitars but it seems like there are less guitars than there are in the last game. Blatant advertising also puts a bad taste in my mouth, there is an Axe Guitar (the body spray for guys with the funny commercials) and a Bass with the “Bow Chicka Wah Wah” tagline from the same product.

Score: 8.5 – Great

Gameplay

The gameplay is pretty much the same as well with some changes and new additions. Of the changes department, they’ve changed the timing requirements for hitting notes making hitting notes somewhat easier and causing less “BS moments” to happen, this also really helps with hammer ons and pull offs which were still very spotty in GH2. But immediately most of you would think this makes the game easier overall and just go back to playing GH1 and 2, but that simply isn’t the case. The note structure of some songs, and some songs themselves are hard to play anyway, I suppose this was to make up for easier timing, or just their way of keeping it fresh but whatever. As for new additions there were a few.

The boss battles, while a good idea are poorly executed in all honesty. The way it works is you get Battle Power or whatever it’s called instead of Star Power for hitting certain passages, and if you hit them successfully you’ll get an ability to use against the opponent. The abilities are Broken String where you have to press the button that was broken a bunch of times to fix it, Whammy, where you have to whammy really fast or you can’t play any notes, something that jumbles up all your notes and you can’t see anything (by far the most effective), and difficulty up. I’m probably forgetting a few but if I am it’s more than likely because they have little to no effect at all. But anyway, the reason why it’s poorly executed is because you can either beat them one minute into the battle or build up a bunch of abilities and assault them all at once at a big passage and they’ll lose, very predictable at best.

One thing that they finally added was a Co-Op Career where you and a friend can take turns playing Lead or Rhythm guitars or Bass. It is only through this mode that you can unlock some songs you won’t be able to by just playing single player and building up cash. I will state that there is no more normal Co-Op mode in multi player and Co-Op Career only lets you play a third of the entire game soundtrack, I find that lame personally. Again no real groundbreaking gameplay changes, that doesn’t mean it’s bad but at this point it’s starting to show wear I’d say.

Score: 8.4 – Great

Graphics

Well the PS2 version doesn’t have all the fancy lighting effects and filters to make the game look so perky but it still looks pretty good. Just as good as the last games really. The art direction has changed a bit though and I say for the better, I like the way the characters look in this game compared to the other ones. Judy Nails actually looks like someone who would name herself Judy Nails, Xavier Stone now pretty much looks like Jimi Hendrix (awesome), and Casey Lynch no longer looks like she’s pissed all the time that can be good or bad. One thing I don’t like is that pretty much everybody’s animations except for the guitarist are very bland and robotic, something you’d expect from either an early or low budget PS2 game, or something on the ol’ Playstation, or N64. What’s even funnier is that sometimes while playing songs you’ll notice that the characters on stage sometimes don’t match their actions with the music.

Like you’ll hear the Bass still going in the song but when the camera pans on the Bass Player he’ll be busy waving at the crowd both of his hands off of his guitar. This is just sloppy really, and there is no excuse for the bad animation, especially theses days, and from an established developer like Neversoft.

Score: 7.0 – Decent

Sound

The soundtrack for this game is a huge step forward for the series. This truly is a mixed big of all sorts of sounds that everyone can like. From the perky up beat “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” to the somewhat chaotic riffs from Sonic Youth’s “Kool Thing” to the classic metal of Metallica’s “One” and Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” all the way back to the spacy guitar work of Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” this soundtrack is seriously all over the place. The only thing really missing from the soundtrack was still the absence of some Led Zeppelin and no Jimi Hendrix yet again. What gives guys? I will have to commend you on acquiring all those Master Tracks though.

Score: 9.7 – Awesome

Replay

The game of course has great replay value just like the other games. But more than likely you’ll be playing this game a bit more than the others because of the great soundtrack. Of course this could also just be tiding you over until Rock Band. But with the co op career, all the cool extras you can buy in the store (for the most part) and great soundtrack combined, you will be busy for a while.

Score: 7.7 – Good

Overview

So was GH3 a real improvement over GH2? In some ways yes and in others no, the Soundtrack is really what’s a big improvement over the older titles, especially now that there are Master Tracks instead of all of them being covers. I also have to say that the bonus tracks are also pretty nice, some high profile artists are in the mix along some others that I’ve never heard of. The faults with the graphics though are very disappointing, and the boss battles do not live up to the expectations they were given. But GH3 is a must have title if you’re a fan of the series.

Overall Score: 8.4 - Great

Score modified to 8/10 for Gamefaqs.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (US, 10/28/07)

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