Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Reader Review
When I first heard that Neversoft had taken over the reins of the Guitar Hero franchise from Harmonix for the third instalment, I have to admit to being a little worried for the future of everybody�s favourite rhythm-action game. I am not only glad, but ecstatic to find that these worries were not only unnecessary, but completely ridiculous in light of the final product.
Punk Rock Tried To Kill The Metal
The first thing you�ll see upon starting up the game is obviously the menu. These menus are so easy to navigate with the guitar controller that it doesn�t even require any getting used to. This is thanks largely to everything being listed in one long column rather than rows, apart from the bonus and downloaded songs which are navigated via the colour buttons, which is just as easy.
Visually, the game isn�t exactly a huge technical achievement in comparison with games such as Mass Effect, Assassin�s Creed or Halo 3, but it�s not going to make your eyes feel like they�ve been dipped in vinegar either. The character themselves are an odd looking bunch who have been given a more realistic look compared with the wacky Loony Tunes-like look of the previous game, but they still look more cartoon-like than your Gordon Freemans and Master Chiefs, which is nothing but a good thing and suits the game as a whole. You�re also unlikely to become confused with the characters as they all have a very individual look, from the Punk chick Judy Nails to the Glam Rock Izzy Sparks, the KISS lookalike Lars Umlaut to the Japanese rocker Midori. Also joining the cast are real life Guitar Heroes Slash of Guns N Roses and more currently Velvet Revolver, and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. Both not only have some of their more famous songs in here, but have also composed entirely new tracks for their boss battles.
The arenas that your Guitar Heroes and Heroines perform in can also be described in much the same way as the characters themselves: nobody is going to call it the most impressive looking game, but it serves its purpose and is certainly not an eyesore. Also similar to the characters is the fact that, at the risk of repeating myself, they all have their own individual look and feel. There are all kinds of venues to play in, including the small crowd of the backyard, the Johnny Cash reminiscent prison, and that massive arena of the Kaiju Megadome.
New Wave Tried To Kill The Metal
In terms of gameplay, not a whole lot has changed as Neversoft have obviously decided to stick with Harmonix�s winning formula. You hold the colour buttons and hit the strum bar to play a note, use the whammy bar to increase the number of points and star power from the longer notes, and tilt the guitar to activate the star power. Thankfully they haven�t tried to change too much.
It�s certainly not entirely flawless though, as the alterations to the way star power is displayed to you can often become distracting. Rather than just telling you when you can use your accumulated star power by turning blue, there are now three more levels of star power which extend the amount of them it is activated for. What this means is that rather than merely glancing at the star power meter, you now have to count how many light bulbs you have active and weigh up the pros and cons of using it now or waiting until you�ve gained just one more bulb of the stuff. This can become slightly infuriating when you�re trying to five star Through The Fire And Flames on Expert and this sloppy design decision costs you 3 or 4% from your score.
The new guitar controller also takes some getting used to as it is a lot heavier than the previous model and has the annoying bump which just so happens to be where your arm rests on it, though this doesn�t take long to get used to. The boss battles that I previously mentioned can also seem a bit pointless as they seem to largely be decided by luck, which you�ll find usually favours you.
For all it�s faults though, it also has some strong positive things going for it. The learning curve has been hugely improved over the previous game, the jump from medium to hard no longer feeling like you�re driving into a wall at 70 miles per hour and hoping it doesn�t hurt. I tried to see how it was for a newcomer for this review and so had a novice come over for some co-op action. It took him about half an hour before he started getting five stars on easy, whereas the previous game took far, far longer.
The only other negative point to the game is that the career mode only takes about three hours on the difficulty you�re most comfortable with. Admittedly though, there�s plenty of extra content in the higher difficulty modes, the unlockable bonus songs, the downloadable content (of which I highly recommend the Foo Fighters pack) and trying to climb up the leaderboard, making this point a little moot.
There is also the new online mode, allowing you to play co-op, face off, or battles over Xbox Live. Even the online battles seem a little pointless though, but the face off and particularly the co-op will prove hours of fun with both friends and those weird American people who seem to inhabit the Xbox Live servers.
Grunge Tried To Kill The Metal
Moving on to the most important thing of any music oriented game, the music. The soundtrack is, as expected, pretty much perfect for a game of the genre. Lots of guitar solos and catchy songs that are hard not to enjoy. Obviously a track list can be found on wikipedia so I won�t list them all here, but personal highlights include Black Sabbath�s Paranoid, Muse�s Knights of Cydonia, Slipknot�s Before I Forget, Guns N Roses� Welcome To The Jungle, and Slayer�s Raining Blood. The only problem I can find with the soundtrack is that the emphasis was clearly on the older songs from the 70�s and 80�s, which just made it feel a little bit out of touch and left me wondering what the hell all these granddad rock songs were.
The other audio is a bit of a mixed bunch, like a picnic basket with both sausage rolls and pears. The music in the backgrounds of the menu are all just the songs that you�ll be playing in the game at a lower volume, so it suits the game and anything else would just be a bit weird. The main audio problem is that when you make a mistake in a song, you�re met with the most irritating and distracting clang noise you�re likely to have ever heard. This is one of the few games where these kinds of distractions are both inexcusable and largely detrimental to the game.
Techno Tried To Kill The Metal
This game is a difficult one to review. On the one hand, I absolutely love it. On the other, there are several flaws that I can�t just ignore. It�s incredibly close to gaining a perfect ten, but just misses it by a hair or two.
9 / 10