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Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii) artwork

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Wii) review


"It’s only been two years since the first Guitar Hero exploded onto the wannabe rock star scene. While I joined the party a few months after the initial release it was undoubtedly the most awesome experience I ever had. That next year, Guitar Hero II released with much hype and in many ways I felt that killed the game. The songs included weren’t as memorable as “More Than A Feeling” from Boston, “Iron Man” from Black Sabbath, or the original “Guitar Hero” song, then again I’m not much of a mus..."



It’s only been two years since the first Guitar Hero exploded onto the wannabe rock star scene. While I joined the party a few months after the initial release it was undoubtedly the most awesome experience I ever had. That next year, Guitar Hero II released with much hype and in many ways I felt that killed the game. The songs included weren’t as memorable as “More Than A Feeling” from Boston, “Iron Man” from Black Sabbath, or the original “Guitar Hero” song, then again I’m not much of a music guy so I usually go into these games blind and retain the ones I really liked. Anyway, Guitar Hero II felt like a disappointment to me and I wasn’t that anxious to support the franchise which appeared to be milking it for what it’s worth with the minute 80’s expansion or the third game. When I learned about Rock Band, I was ecstatic and my mindset was “Screw Guitar Hero, I have Rock Band!” However, I figured I might as well get myself ready for Rock Band by practicing with Guitar Hero III, and since I’m a cheap bastard, I played through the game at a buddy’s place on the Wii, but it’s also available for the PS2, PS3, and Xbox 360.

Now for all two of you who don’t know what Guitar Hero is, it’s a rhythm game with a guitar peripheral and you have to strum and press down the corresponding colored fret buttons as they scroll down the screen. You’ll get single notes, chords which may require two or three notes to be pressed down simultaneously. Additionally, there are holding notes where hold down the fret for the duration of the note and if they’re really long (that’s what she said) you can freestyle/alter the note with the whammy bar. Upon pressing a series of notes with star icons around them you’ll unlock star power which requires you to tilt the guitar upwards giving you double the amount of points you would normally get and you flat-out feel awesome. Hitting a continuous stream of notes without missing will net you bonus multipliers which earns more points and that’s all that really matters about being a rock star; it’s not the fame, it’s not the fortune, it’s the points.

High scores and the number of notes are what earn you more money for unlocking characters, bonus songs, guitars, and other goodies in the career mode. The career mode offers 42 songs and you can unlock 25 bonus songs. After each set of four songs, you’ll be coerced into playing an encore which is a fifth song. This feature was introduced in the second game and the third game offers even more with boss battles with rival guitarists, Slash from Guns and Roses, Tom Morrello from Rage Against the Machine, and Lou the Devil from hell? All of which become playable characters upon defeating them. Boss battles play out where the goal is to get the opposing player to fail at the song. This is easier said than done because the computer is cheap and will of course hit every note perfectly. You can fix this by building up Battle Power which gives you power-ups to use against your opponent. Some of these power-ups include causing twice as many notes to appear, overloading the amps which causes the notes to flicker making it difficult to play them, destroying a fret which requires the player to press down on it multiple times to fix, and many more.

These power-ups are not only part of the boss battles but also part of the new battle mode that is included with multiplayer, in addition to the Pro Face-Off, Face-Off, and Co-op play. In the case of the latter, it’s like the second game where one player plays lead guitar and the other plays rhythm/bass guitar. Co-op features a separate career mode but it has a flaw where if one player decides to play on an easier difficulty and then decides to play on a harder difficulty then you’ll have to start that career all over again. With the exception of Co-op, all of the other multiplayer modes feature the long-awaited online multiplayer. Not only do you compete head-to-head with players from around the world, but your career mode score and other stats are posted online at guitarhero.com and you can see where you rank among the elite. A buddy of mine wouldn’t rest until he scored at least 10,000,000 points on his career record on Expert to brag online, and he’s among the top 400 for Wii players. I of course, don’t care for such things because the game already knows I rock and I don’t need to be posted on the leaderboard… I AM the leaderboard. Hubris and all, the online features are great but it would’ve been nice if co-op was online too. This is probably the best online game for the Wii which isn’t saying much with the current selection of online Wii games.

Online is not only part of multiplayer, but the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero III allow players to purchase and download song packs for more songs much like it did for Guitar Hero II. Unfortunately the PS3 and Wii versions don’t have this feature but they may in the future.

However, for those who don’t have the ability to download new songs should still be content with the track list featured in the game. A lot of the songs included in the third game should please music fans such as The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Cherub Rock,” Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” Tenacious D’s “The Metal,” Weezer’s “My Name is Jonas,” Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” Foghat’s “Slow Ride,” and Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia.” That last song actually hurt my hands and forced me to rinse them in warm water for ten minutes which shows that the difficulty has stepped up quite a bit which should please veteran players. If you want to see something that’s impossible to complete let alone 5-star, check out Dragonforce’s “Through the Fire and Flames.” Guitar Hero III also boasts Eric Johnson’s “Cliffs of Dover,” which is this game’s equivalent of GH1’s “More Than A Feeling,” and GH2’s “Surrender,” in other words, it’s the best song ever. Due to RedOctane and Harmonix splitting, Harmonix faithful bands such as Freezepop aren’t available on Guitar Hero III but they will be in Rock Band.

Since this is a music game, you can bet that the sound will be great which is true. 51 of the tracks are master recordings and it’s pretty much as good as you’re going to get for a game consisting entirely of licensed tracks. Familiar noises such as when you strum the wrong note are still present with the Wii Remote’s speaker playing the noise on the Wii version. The Wii Remote will also vibrate when you acquire star power considering that you have to stick it into the guitar (that’s also what she said) gives it an edge above the other versions’ guitars. All of the guitars in general feel slick and much better than any of the previous guitars. I actually prefer this guitar over Rock Band’s, which proves to be GH3’s only advantage over Rock Band in my opinion.

Also like other music games and previous Guitar Hero games, the graphics are fairly simplistic. The characters in the game look great in HD on the PS3 and 360 versions of the game which is a stark difference from the Wii version but again, you’re not playing these games for their visuals. However, whenever I’m watching others play I notice that the singer and drummer’s movements look kind of robotic, like the band that plays at Chuck E. Cheese. Actually that’d be a cool venue to play at; RedOctane and Neversoft, make that a venue in the next game!

All in all, Guitar Hero III should meet your need to rock out with your c*ck out, and the increase in difficulty may turnoff casual players but it should appease experts as well as the inclusion to post your scores and compete online. All of this should offer more replay value than the previous games. However, the series is becoming stagnant with each annual release even with the new features included in this game. If $169.99 is too much for you to get Rock Band, then this game should be an adequate substitute.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by Ness (December 21, 2007)

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