Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock has finally burst onto the scene, and is throwing those TVâ€™s out of the hotel room window. If youâ€™ve still yet to pick up one of those plastic guitars with the coloured buttons on the neck, now would be the time.
First and foremost, even with Neversoft now at the helm, this is still the same Guitar Hero that weâ€™ve grown accustomed to. The core gameplay gets you strumming along to the songs, hitting the buttons on the neck of the guitar as they race towards you on the screen. Miss too many notes and youâ€™ll fail the song.
While the idea behind the game stays the same, the guitar packaged with the game is now a wireless Gibson Les Paul, featuring detachable neck (for easier transport) and swappable faceplate (for ultra rocking-ness). The wireless guitar is also substantially heavier, helping bring a higher overall sense of realism to the living room.
Even with the formula remaining largely unchanged, the Guitar Hero series has always been about the songs. Itâ€™s a good thing then that Guitar Hero III delivers on content. Itâ€™s a star-studded line up with the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, The Rolling Stones, Beastie Boys, Kiss, Metallica, Sex Pistols, along with a whole slew of others. Impressively, nearly three quarters of the songs are master recordings. The game also features a pile of mostly lesser-known songs for the bonus tracks, as well as regular downloadable content from the Marketplace.
The game modes are largely the same as previous iterations. Career mode can be played either solo or with someone else, and is the way to unlock all the songs in the game and earn money for extra guitars, costumes, and so forth. Itâ€™s worth pointing out that the co-op career mode features a few exclusive songs that arenâ€™t in the single-player mode.
The career mode is loosely tied together with short videos progressing the â€˜storyâ€™ between each set of five songs. Three boss battles are also featured throughout the single-player career mode, with Slash (Guns Nâ€™ Roses and Velvet Revolver) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave), along with a fictional devil character named Lou. Bret Michaels (Poison) has also lent his likeness and voice to the game, and will take the singerâ€™s role in particular songs.
Aside from career mode, all the normal options are available: face-off, pro face-off, and co-op, alongside the newly added battle mode. Battle mode essentially turns star-power phrases into â€˜Battle-Powerâ€™ items, which can then be unleashed on the opponent. The aim is to make the other person lose first by unloading the items such as Difficulty-up, Amp overload, Double notes, and Lefty Flip all changing, or obstructing, the way you play the game.
The onscreen display has also had a slight revamp, with the number of notes youâ€™ve hit in a row being shown onscreen - a very welcome addition that adds a lot more tension once you get into the hundreds. The oncoming notes have remained largely unchanged, with only a few minor changes to show the hammer-on/pull-offâ€™s more blatantly, which in turn become a lot easier to perform. Timing for hitting the notes has been increased, making those harder solos slightly more forgiving. However, the overall difficulty has been raised, with some of the latter songs on hard feeling more like what you would expect from an expert song in the previous games.
We didnâ€™t get a whole lot of time with the online mode, as all our attempts to jump into a quick game failed with connection problems; something Activisionâ€™s support website has acknowledged. Custom games online do work without error, and provide a way to battle against someone else across the other side of the world. It doesnâ€™t beat rockinâ€™ the pants off your opponent with them there right beside you, but itâ€™s still a lot of fun.
While the game provides hours of blissful fun, it would've been nice to see some more substantial improvements and gameplay changes over what Guitar Hero II offered. Nevertheless it's still a very solid title, and is easy to pick up and play if only for a few minutes, or as a game to pull out at a party. Now, if youâ€™ll excuse me, I need to have one more attempt at Through the Fire and Flames.