Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Review
By Jimmy Vails |
Have you had enough Guitar Hero yet? The sales totaling into the millions and growing every day say you haven't. Activision agrees. In 2007 alone we've already seen Guitar Hero 2 release on Xbox 360 and Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s on PS2, but that hasn't stopped the demand for more. Enter Guitar Hero 3, the first in the franchise made by development studio Neversoft after the former team, Harmonix, was snatched up by MTV Games. You can toss out any fears you might have had about a new developer ruining your favorite franchise right now. Guitar Hero 3 is another great reason to slip into some tight leather pants and rock out with your friends.
For music rhythm games, it often begins and ends with the soundtrack. Guitar Hero 3 has nothing to worry about. From top to bottom, this is easily the best lineup yet. Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith and more are all in with master recordings no less. Activision even got the Sex Pistols to re-record Anarchy in the UK just for the game. The same goes for Living Colour's Cult of Personality. The songs that were performed by cover bands, as usual, don't live up to the originals but there are less of them than ever before. This time, when you start up a Guns n' Roses track (Welcome to the Jungle), it will be Axl Rose belting out the words to accompany your shredding. And that makes all the difference in the world.
It's hard not to like this game. Unlike Rocks the '80s, this is indeed a full sequel. The list of additions reads like a wishlist compiled from fans across the world. A full cooperative career has finally been added, complete with its own songs picked specifically for their great bass or rhythm guitar parts. A battle mode is in as well, inspired in part by the Ralph Macchio movie Crossroads, where players duel against each other by throwing attacks at each other in an attempt to make one another miss notes and fail out. We've had a great deal of fun with this new way to go head to head with a friend. It may sound a bit odd, but don't write it off.
For the first time, the franchise goes online with co-op, face-off, pro face-off and battle mode up for play with a friend or stranger around the world. The PC version includes a open match list for browsing, quick match, and the ability to create a private match. To play with a specific friend, you'll either have to find them first on the public match list or know their handle to search for the private match after they have created it. There isn't any friend list, which is a bit of a disappointment. There's also a bit of an issue with people having poor connections online, making it a little difficult for us to find a match that we could even join. Once you're in, though, the game runs smoothly.
One thing the PC version doesn't have (yet?) is access to the guitarhero.com online community. This web tool, that pools stats and organizes tournaments from the Wii, PS3, and 360 titles, is a great addition and sorely missed on PC.
The new wireless Les Paul that comes with the PS3, 360, and Wii versions of Guitar Hero 3 doesn't work with the PC. Instead, you'll get the X-Plorer design that came with Guitar Hero 2 on Xbox 360. This isn't nearly as good as the new Les Paul with a less than ideal button layout and a wired connection. PC gamers aren't completely ignored when it comes to new controls. You can also play the game with the keyboard. It isn't the most ideal way to play Guitar Hero 3, but it is fully customizable and functional if you can stand the constant tapping.
Even us simple folk can be stars.Then there are the licensed legends. Slash, of Guns n' Roses fame, is in the game as a playable character. So is Tom Morello and a few other imaginary avatars, but we'll say it again: You can play as Slash in Guitar Hero 3. If you don't think that's cool then there is something wrong with you.
Guitar Hero 3 was built from the ground up by Neversoft without access to any of the code from the first two games and was then ported to the PC by Aspyr. The work done to ensure the game plays like its predecessors is admirable, but this title does play a tad different than what you're probably used to if you've been following the series closely. For starters, the window of time in which you can successfully hit a note has been extended by quite a bit. Guitar Hero experts may see this as blasphemy because of how much easier it makes the game, but this was actually a great move by Neversoft. The difficulty on the lower tier songs has been reduced, making the game much more accessible to new players. It also makes it so that intermediate players can feel like a rock star right from the get go, a feeling that really is the entire point of playing the game.