Guitar Hero: Metallica

Before the cynic in you screams ‘cash-in’, cool your jets. This is a far cry from Activision’s previous ‘band-centric’ title, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, which offered little beyond Guitar Hero with Steven Tyler sticky-taped on top. On the contrary, this is a fan’s dream, a loving tribute to Metallica, and above all, a blast to play. To dismiss it as a product of corporate greed is to do a disservice to all that is metal.

The game remains based upon the original World Tour engine, Neversoft opting to work with the familiar and apply a bit of polish. Career, Quickplay, Head to Head and Online are the menu staples, with a ‘backstage’ option for all the extra stuff. Your progression through Career Mode is determined by the tier system refined by Guitar Hero 1 and 2, as opposed to the gig-to-gig career favoured by World Tour.

 
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There are a couple of little additions, the first being an ‘expert plus’ mode for drums that adds a second foot pedal (many retailers will chuck this in with a pre-order of the game). Be warned though, the co-ordination required for this mode is nigh-on superhuman, and should really only be tackled by drumming professionals or Lars Ulrich, yet it’s still a joy to watch a sweaty friend fail over and over as they try to master the mechanics.

Secondly, there’s a ‘drum over’ mode, which removes the drums from a song and lets you riff your own rhythm on top using deconstructed samples from said song. This should be particularly lauded for encouraging improvisation and cultivating at least a semblance of musical intuition, something that may silence the boring muso critics of Guitar Hero’s ‘play-along’ foundations.

Initially, the recognisable interface might dissuade those that already own World Tour, but to sink your teeth into this tracklist is possibly the most satisfying experience you can have with a plastic instrument. Considering Metallica is one of the most influential metal bands in the world, the tracklist almost feels archetypical, the complex guitar riffs, familiar lyrics and epic drum beats perfectly suited for a music game. Certainly, after shredding ‘Enter Sandman’, Coldplay’s ‘Shiver’ (found on World Tour) seems too tame, if not completely redundant.

The songs themselves are compiled from Metallica’s first albums through to their modern stuff, each one hand-picked by the band. Their earlier work is naturally the more memorable, but even the songs from their more recent albums such as Load/Reload and the downloadable Death Magnetic are terrific, chosen not for their commercial appeal but because they feel so damn good to play. As an added bonus there’s also a handful of songs picked by the band for being either influential to their sound or just plain awesome, as is the case with ‘Tuesday’s Gone’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd and ‘Stacked Actors’ by the Foo Fighters, respectively.

The difficulty of some of Metallica’s complex riffs is considerable: hand cramps, blisters and scratchy throats guaranteed even if playing on medium. Certainly during their early years, Metallica’s songs tended to be quite lengthy, nine-minute instrumentals (complete with grand political statements) par for the course. To soften the difficulty curve, you progress through the game by earning stars as opposed to completing whole sets, meaning you can still ‘finish’ the game even if you can’t nail the latter half of ‘One’.

To complete the package, Metallica spent some time doing motion capture at the Neversoft Studios, and their idiosyncrasies are nigh on perfect in their pixilated counterparts. Interestingly, you don’t play as the band for the majority of the game - Axel Steel and Judy Nails etc make a return here - but the sprites do a fine job at emulating Metallica’s performance style. It remains a pity that Neversoft are yet to nail human faces; the characters’ plastic expressions are situated uncomfortably within the Uncanny Valley. Just concentrate on the music rather than Johnny Napalm’s leering grimace and you’ll be fine.

If you’re a fan of Metallica and already own Guitar Hero: World Tour, this is a must buy. There’s a load of unlockable costumes, personalised guitars and trivia, performance footage and ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos of the band hilariously decked out in their motion-capture leotards. If you’re new to Metallica, this is a great introduction to classic metal, and a showcase title for Neversoft, who have really begun to ride the lightening.


Guitar Hero: Metallica
"Guitar Hero: Metallica kills em all. "
- Guitar Hero: Metallica
8.5
Great
 
Follow Own it? Rating: M   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min


 

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Comments Comments (14)

 
The Host of Chaos NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by The Host of Chaos
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 12:24 PM
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I want this now! Right now!
 
 
 
arnies
Posted by arnies
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 12:59 PM
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I think I'll buy this
 
 
 
Lisa3x3x3
Posted by Lisa3x3x3
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 1:15 PM
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About time GH released a decent band game!
 
 
 
PandaJenkins NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by PandaJenkins
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 4:10 PM
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as much as i love metallica i aint getting this cause its neversoft. :/
 
 
 
Nivicious
Posted by Nivicious
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 4:56 PM
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looks mint
 
 
 
simcharles
Posted by simcharles
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 6:12 PM
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I'm getting this! It's been preordered
 
 
 
simcharles
Posted by simcharles
On Tuesday 12 May 2009 7:53 PM
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Someone was playing this on my friends list on Live!!
 
 
 
smartkat
Posted by smartkat
On Wednesday 13 May 2009 11:15 AM
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omg this soundz so gud....i gota get it
 
 
 
nocturnal05
Posted by nocturnal05
On Wednesday 13 May 2009 11:37 AM
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I have this on my PS3 but it's essentially the same on the 360. It's a very very fun game to play indeed. I'm stuck on Expert (no 2nd pedal) but got one on the way so am looking forward to giving the double bass songs a try!
 
 
 
Xenojay NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
Posted by Xenojay
On Friday 15 May 2009 2:42 PM
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I'm not liking where the HERO series is going in terms of market saturation, but I can't help but love the fact that they made a new mode for DOUBLE KICKS.

Gotta loves those DOUBLE KICKS!
 
 
 
The Oreo NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
Posted by The Oreo
On Saturday 16 May 2009 2:12 AM
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15 May 2009, 02:42 PM Reply to Xenojay
I'm not liking where the HERO series is going in terms of market saturation, but I can't help but love the fact that they made a new mode for DOUBLE KICKS.

Gotta loves those DOUBLE KICKS!
Big deal, I don't see why Expert+ seems to be such a massive selling point for the game. Harmonix has always charted double bass within the Expert difficulty, so Neversoft now "introducing" it seems stupid to me.
 
 
 
PandaJenkins NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
Posted by PandaJenkins
On Saturday 16 May 2009 1:05 PM
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16 May 2009, 02:12 AM Reply to The Oreo
Big deal, I don't see why Expert+ seems to be such a massive selling point for the game. Harmonix has always charted double bass within the Expert difficulty, so Neversoft now "introducing" it seems stupid to me.
i agree, i have no idea why people are being won over by expert+. I aint going to buy a gh game for like 2 features rb doesen't have for it too only do everything else terribly.
 
 
 
jbl316
Posted by jbl316
On Monday 18 May 2009 1:35 PM
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I would love to play this game I'm a huge Metallica fan, but cannot afford to get the whole band kit its too expensive!!!
 
 
 
Majorkorn
Posted by Majorkorn
On Saturday 3 Oct 2009 4:29 PM
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there wont be a better guitar hero, alot of work gone into this one and its mint as, altho kurt cobain is in guitar hero 5