Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock comes to the PS3 with an electrifying performance. Though it is no longer the intellectual effort of Harmonix, new founder Neversoft, developer of the popular Tony Hawk games, has managed to keep the original mechanics intact. This is by far the most excellent Guitar Hero to date! It has the best track collection, the most exciting multiplayer face-offs, and an unsurpassed degree of challenge that would surely push hardcore veterans at the edge of their seats. The premise of Guitar Hero III is getting into the rhythm much like Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution. You hit a particular fret button shown on the screen and voila! You’re on your way to becoming the next Jimmy Hendrix.
The game comes with the Les Paul replica. Yes, it is artificial but this is way better than playing the air guitar that you often see on the McDonald’s commercial. But the fact is that this brand new strummer is now wireless and it includes a detachable neck, a better strap design, a much functional whammy bar, and incredibly responsive buttons. The good news about Guitar Hero III is that the core gameplay hasn’t changed much. The bad news is that the extreme difficulty of some of the game’s songs could push away newcomers. It is as though this year’s version has been developed strictly towards a club of long-time hardcore fans. But if you do belong in this experienced group, you’re definitely going to enjoy the challenge.
As mentioned earlier, the game is loaded with some of the greatest rock hits to ever graze today’s console. You’ll be jamming to music that crosses over numerous genres and generations, from old school heavy metal, which include Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Slayer, and Iron Maiden; to the Alternatives of the 90’s symbolized by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Smashing Pumpkins; to the mainstream Alternative Pop by The Killers and Weezer. Punk fans will be able to enjoy riffs from bands such as the Sex Pistol, Rise Against, and Sonic Youth just to name a few. More than half of the soundtracks are original songs; some were re-recorded by real artists themselves to enhance the rhythm for the game. With this ostentatious collection of music, you are bound to hit a snag. The “cover” songs sticks out like dried ketchup on a white shirt, and what’s worse is that they are no longer the same sound quality as Guitar Hero II. The dubbed over by these second-hand artists are a tad off on the notes with regards to the lyrics.
Fortunately, the part where they play guitar has not been affected and stays true to their original tracks. In terms of career mode, you advance through Guitar Hero III just like the other previous games using same tiered-unlocking system. You’ll notice that the developer has added some new animated cutscenes that highlights your life in the fast lane as well as your inevitable downward spiral to hell. It’s a short funny story that depicts a typical career of a rock band in real life. One of the coolest additions to this year’s Guitar Hero III is the ability to play co-op career mode. What’s nice about it is that you can team up with a friend who can either be the lead guitarist or background bass. While it is nice to have a fellow head banger rocking with you, there is no other way to play on the same team with one console other than the career mode. What’s more is that you can only unlock the game’s other six songs through the co-op career. So unless your partner brings his own guitar, you’ll never get those songs out.
In addition to co-op, Guitar Hero III retains many of the multiplayer features that appeared in previous titles, including face-off and pro face-off modes. Nothing has changed with these options in terms of gameplay. They are still good and interesting to play. What’s different with the multiplayer segments is the inclusion of titled battle mode where you hit a specific note that produces weapons that you can throw at your opponent by tilting the guitar. Things you can throw ranges from broken strings to amp overloads. This mode is fun at first until you realize that whoever gets a weapon first wins practically every time. It’s the same tactics you’ll be using in boss battles as you take on Tom Morello (Rage Against Machine, Audioslave) and Slash (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver). But the last boss is extremely difficult to beat.
While these multiplayer modes did a fair job of achieving some diversion to the single-career aspect, nothing will electrify your guitar experience than to strut your rock performance online. This is the first time the series has ever been “live” like this, taking on top head bangers of the world. The online mode includes face-off, pro face-off, and battle ranked matches, and other offline options. It’s too bad you can’t play the co-op career mode online. Graphically, the game has been given a more distinct textures and an inflated look. The characters have sharper properties to them and the environment looks excellent. It’s not just the graphics have changed but the developer has added some nice subtleties here and there.
The game keeps tab of your different milestones through visual counters and streaking text messages. The overall presentation is quite remarkable but it’s hard to ignore the in-your-face ad from Axe Body Spray. While that is something you can over look, what’s important here is that Guitar Hero III plays to its strength of bringing you the best guitar experience ever. It’s amazing how Neversoft has managed to pull off the original gameplay intact, which is a big role to fill when Harmonix stepped down. In fact, the gameplay is much more accessible this time around when performing those long streaks of tightly packed chords. Yes, the game is rather difficult on some levels, but the highly-charged rock star experience still remains as addicting as ever. And with online play, it’ll just be a matter of time until a concert ignites into one’s living room. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is certainly a legend in the making, but just don’t go over your board thinking this is your ticket to the American Idol.