Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Review
As I started this review, I realized that stepping back and attempting to give an objective rating to Guitar Hero III would be difficult. I’ve been a Guitar Hero fan since the first game hit the PS2. I’ve played Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero: Rocks The 80’s and every single song available for download from Xbox Live. I even went so far as to purchase guitar stands for my three controllers. I may not be the most talented player in the world, but in Guitar Hero, I’ve found a modern franchise that can go toe-to-toe with any other current franchise in terms of quality… and win. Everything about the series is great, from the aforementioned special guitar controller to the indescribable elation players feel when they finally finish a difficult song or solo they’ve been practicing.
Now, after months and months of speculation and a split between the two companies responsible for previous Guitar Hero games, Guitar Hero III is finally upon us. The new look is great, the gameplay is as entertaining as ever and the track list… oh, the tracklist, is easily the best in any Guitar Hero game. The best part is that long after you tire of Halo 3 and The Orange Box, you’ll still be honing your Guitar Hero skills and improving your total score. The bottom line is that Guitar Hero III, no matter which system you choose to play on, is one of the year’s best games. No, seriously… do not buy another game until after you have this one.
In case you aren’t familiar with the series, Guitar Hero is basically a music game that is played with a plastic guitar replica controller. The player needs to hit notes by holding buttons on the “fret board” and “strumming” with a tiny plastic switch on the body of the guitar. It looks and sounds easy, but the game can become nearly impossible on the hardest difficulties. One of Guitar Hero series’ best features is the ability to adjust that difficulty. Easy mode has the notes moving at a snail’s pace, while the hardest difficulty has them flying by at light speed. Your chosen difficulty also determines which notes you’ll be playing and how frequently; easy mode only has three notes to choose from while expert mode will have you using all five notes and creating some crazy chords. The unorthodox controller, coupled with the game’s ability to accommodate amateur shredders of all skill levels, made Guitar Hero one of the most played and most successful series of all time, and this new game is no exception.
As I mentioned before, the two companies responsible for the previous Guitar Hero games parted ways a couple of months ago. Neversoft, the company responsible the Tony Hawk franchise and some of the best Spider-Man games to date, took the reins for Guitar Hero III. Naturally, by being in different hands, Guitar Hero III ended up with a slightly different look and some new features, but for the most part, the Guitar Hero I know and love is alive and well in this sequel – with one exception, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
First, let’s go over what makes this itineration of Guitar Hero arguably the best yet. The new Les Paul guitar controller alone makes Guitar Hero III a must-buy for anyone who enjoyed the previous games. The fret buttons are smaller and closer together, the strum bar doesn’t “click” like the previous controllers (it made for quite a racket) and, best of all, the new Les Paul controller is wireless. Players who pick up Guitar Hero III as their first foray into the series won’t know just how amazing having a wireless controller really is. Gone are the days of sitting or standing within the cord’s limited reach and, if you’re an aggressive player like me, you won’t be tearing the USB out of its socket every time things get heated. The Les Paul controller is without a doubt the best on the market. The only drawback is that the controller runs on two AA batteries and doesn’t support the use of Xbox 360 rechargeable battery packs. When you buy the game, you probably shouldn’t leave the store without some rechargeable batteries in hand. It’s a minor gripe, but if your batteries die during a difficult solo… well, the Les Paul controller may be sturdy and well put together, but it probably won’t survive being thrown out the window in frustration.
In the Guitar Hero series, the music has always been the star. Being that my musical tastes are a bit eclectic, I wasn’t surprised to see that I either didn’t like or had never heard a good number of the songs in the game. Preference aside, this is still the best tracklist in any game yet. I won’t give too much away (just read the box…), but in my opinion, “My Name is Jonas” by Weezer and “Through the Fire and Flames” by Dragonforce make this Guitar Hero III’s $100 price tag worth every cent. There are some tracks that seem woefully and hilariously out of place (Stevie Ray Vaughn and Charlie Daniels jump to mind), but even they can’t bring down the overall quality. Even with as much I as I hate some of the songs, there is no denying that they are fun to play, even if they aren’t much fun to listen to. The fact that Wolfmother is nowhere to be found automatically makes these songs superior to Guitar Hero II’s musical lineup. Seriously, I’ve heard high school bands with more talent.