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Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

 

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Misc
 
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Developer – Neversoft Entertainment/Vicarious Visions
Publisher - Activision

Features

1-2 Players
Online (1-2 Players)
Wireless Guitar Support

I have to admit right off the hop that I am a true Guitar Hero rookie. The series started on the PS2 and made the jump to the 360 not long after even and though it was on both of these systems I really never got a chance to play it. Since that time original developers Harmonix have gone on to a new publisher and are developing Rock Band. With their departure Neversoft and Vicarious Visions stood up to the plate and took over the reigns of the Guitar Hero franchise for the third iteration of the series, aptly titled Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (GH3). Most recently I had the opportunity review a copy of the Wii version. After some extended play time jamming to the beat I would have to say that I am wholly hooked, and anyone with a Wii will find that they can live their rock and roll dreams with ease.

Graphics

Having had a chance to play both the Xbox 360 version and the Wii version, I would have to say that this game looks pretty good, but it does look sharper on the more powerful HD consoles out there. That being said, the colors are bright and vibrant and thee look of the game is somewhat over the top. There is a sense of artistic freedom in GH3, and it definitely shows. I for one didn’t mind the graphic style of this game given that it really did seem to match the overall theme of what was being presented.

As for the technical side of the visuals, the game runs in 480p and supports a 16x9 widescreen mode. I played my review copy on a 42 inch Sharp Aquos and it looked quite sharp. There were some evident jaggies as this game runs in a lower resolution then the 360 or PS3 version. It doesn’t hurt the game though, it just is somewhat noticeable. Everything is silky smooth too as there is no slowdown of any kind, even when you have two players on the same screen at once, with each of their characters doing their own thing. Not like you will really have a chance to watch the goings on around you anyways, as your focus will be on the scrolling notes falling towards the bottom of the screen.

Activision is very proud of the work that was put into this game, as is evident from the press material that I received with my review copy. It notes how Slash, Tom Morello and Bret Michaels spent hours in motion capture suits so that their movements and styles were translated to their in-game characters perfectly. I would agree they do look good as they strut their stuff on the screen. When I did have a chance to watch others play I got a chance to see how all the band members moved to the music and their movements were in rhythm with each songs beat. It was a well choreographed display of rock and roll mayhem. You have the option to change the look of your own on-screen persona too, ranging from grunge, punk, metal or anything in between. Overall the visuals were well done, but I did find myself wishing that the Wii could display in a higher resolution because there is no doubt that this game looks better in HD.

Sound

The variety found in the music on GH3 is by far some of the most impressive in any type of game of this nature. GH3’s press material notes that the game features 70% master recordings spanning over 40 years of music across many rock genres. I would say that they have a lot of different music to offer to anyone who picks up this game. Not only did Activsion and their developers put great music on the disc, but they even added some great music features to existing tracks and some new music from icons in the business. GH3 includes exclusive tracks from guitar icons Slash and Tom Morello who contribute original guitar riffs for boss battles. The Sex Pistols re-entered the studio for the first time in 30 years to re-record “Anarchy in the U.K.” for GH3, and it isn’t available anywhere else. Even Living Colour re-recorded their Grammy Award winning “Cult of Personality” adding a new solo for GH3. It is very evident that the effort put forth to make this game somewhat special and even unique was a great one indeed.

For those wondering what songs they get to play I thought it would be prudent to make a list of some of the songs available. You will find yourself rocking to such tunes as:

- Hit Me with your Best Shot (as made famous by Pat Benatar)
- Welcome to The Jungle (by Guns N' Roses)
- One (by Metallica)
- Paint It Black (by The Rolling Stones)
- Cherub Rock (by Smashing Pumpkins)
- Sabotage (by Beastie Boys)
- The Metal (by Tenacious D)
- My Name is Jonas (by Weezer)
- Knights of Cydonia (by Muse)
- Even Flow (by Pearl Jam)
- Lay Down (by Priestess)
- Cult of Personality (by Living Colour)
- Miss Murder (by AFI)
- Through Fire and Flames (by Dragonforce)
- Number of the Beast (by Iron Maiden)
- 3's and 7's (by Queens of the Stone Age)
- Suck My Kiss (by Red Hot Chili Peppers)
- Raining Blood (by Slayer)
- Reptillia (by The Strokes)
- Paranoid (as made famous by Black Sabbath)
- Cities on Flame (as made famous by Blue Oyster Cult)
- Mississippi Queen (as made famous by Mountain)
- La Grange (as made famous by ZZ Top)
- Rock and Roll All Nite (as made famous by Kiss)
- School's Out (as made famous by Alice Cooper)
- Rock You Like a Hurricane (as made famous by Scorpions)
- Slow Ride (as made famous by Foghat)
- Barracuda (as made famous by Heart)
- She Bangs the Drums (as made famous by The Stone Roses)
- Bulls on Parade ( as made famous by RATM)

This is just a sampling of the 70 or so songs that are available in this game. I found that even the music I wasn’t a fan of was quite enjoyable.

As for the quality of the sound, it really all depends on what you are using for a sound system. The game sounds good coming from TV speakers, but is so much more enjoyable coming through a set of stereo or surround sound speakers. The latter envelops you in the sound of the whole experience, from the music to the crowd chanting. It is really a great experience to have the audience all around you as you strive for greatness. All in all anyone will be happy with the whole audio package offered in GH3, from the available music tracks to the crowds and the special effects (e.g. pyrotechnics on stage); it is all worth the price of admission.

Gameplay

This is Guitar Hero’s first appearance on a Nintendo branded system. This third true sequel (not including expansion packs) is being released on all current systems, including the PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. For those who don’t know what this game offers, it is a rhythm based game where you hit falling notes that are represented on-screen as colored discs. While these notes scroll down the screen you hold down the corresponding colored fret buttons and strum to the beat. As you manage to hit notes in a row you increase you bonus multiplier and rack up your score. The best way to categorize this game is that it is DDR for your fingers.

After playing through the game on easy and chipping away at medium (and yes I have tried hard and expert which to me became finger numbing experiences) I would have to say that the music found in this game is diverse and some of the best I have heard in any videogame to date. Add to this that I get to play it as well and you have a great mix of music and gameplay that is going to make any rock and roller smile from ear to ear. It is clear that this game definitely went the extra mile to provide wannabe shredders out there with a very unique and exclusive experience.

Now as previously mentioned I am a newbie to the whole Guitar Hero experience. So I had to consult a lot of friends of mine who have tried very hard to sell me on GH2 prior to me reviewing GH3. This allowed me to learn what is new and different this time around. And after much consultation, and my own playtime with the game, it is clear that the new arcade-inspired battle mode adds to this game. The idea is not to necessarily hit the most notes, but rather hit the right ones and learn the nuances of using the power up attacks. Your power icons scroll down the screen at random intervals and should you hit that note right on you just tilt your guitar and the power up immediately affects your opponent. The first time you break a string on your opponent’s guitar you immediately see the fun in this mode. Be forewarned though, what you do to others can happen, and will happen, to you.

Also new to the series are boss battles during career mode. Here you play against such legendary rockers as the aforementioned Tom Morello or Slash to name a few. These battles can get really crazy as they are patterned after the battle mode mentioned above. After you defeat the boss you unlock them as a playable character and continue to the encore of the set list, which is a master recording of one of the bosses own legendary songs. After defeating Tom Morello you get to do an encore of the hard-hitting “Bulls on Parade”, and with Slash you get to play “Welcome to the Jungle” with him. Overall I had a great time with the boss battles and once you are in the higher settings be prepared to really hone your skills to beat them.

Everything new to GH3 is not battle based; there is also a new co-op career mode. Here GH3 gives virtual shredders the chance to progress through their career with a friend. One friend plays the guitar while the other plays the bass. You can also switch up your instrument at the beginning of each song. I went through the career mode with fellow reviewer Trevor H. and we had a great time playing through all the available songs. As a bonus there are six co-op career only songs which we really did quite enjoy. This new mode was a definite great addition to the series.

Finally, new to the Guitar Hero franchise is the inclusion of online play. Yes, you heard me right, online guitar shredding on the Nintendo Wii. You have the option of taking your skills online to compete head-to-head in any of the game’s competitive modes that are offered in the offline play including Face-Off, Pro Face-Off and Battle. These are also offered in both ranked and unranked play. I hit the online world to see how the Wii handled the whole online experience, and I found that it was relatively seamless and lag free. I also found that there are a lot of skilled virtual shredders out there too and I had to humbly take my skills back offline for some serious practice.

Something worth mentioning is the wireless guitar that is offered for Wii play. By utilizing the Wii remote it offers some new features for the wireless guitar play not offered in the PS2, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. By adapting the Wii remote GH3 uses both the rumble feature and the speaker on the Wii remote. The rumble can be felt shaking the guitar when rocking out with star power. The speaker is used mostly to communicate via an audible sound when you miss a note. The ‘twang’ of hitting the note wrong actually comes from the guitar, and not your TV or stereo speakers. I should note that I also played a lot of the 360 version of GH3 and when comparing the two I found it somewhat difficult to really hear the times that I missed a note on the Wii version as the Wii remote can be tough to hear if your TV or Stereo is cranked. That being said, should you be able to hear it, and you are playing multiplayer, you at least know when it is you that messed up a note and not you opponent or co-operative partner.

Overall the game will last as long as you want to make it last. With the varying difficulties, the battle mode, the co-op career mode, and the online mode, there is a lot to do. And with a huge list of artists, from the well known to the unknown, you will find that there is a lot of depth to this game and you won’t be able to put it down that quickly. The skill level needed to complete the basic career mode is not that high as you can go through it relatively quickly on easy. However, should you really want to feel like a true rock hero, you will want to make your way up to the higher difficulties as the finger movements needed to hit every note is, for the lack of a better word, numbing. But it is so rewarding after you manage to hit a string of notes that you just didn’t think you could. Bottom-line, there is a lot to do and GH3 will definitely keep you coming back for more. If there is any downside to the Wii version however it is that the game does not support downloadable content, which is to be expected given that there is no HDD or large storage device on the Wii. This is a shame too as this game just screams for more music via DLC. That being said, maybe Activsion will release GH2 or an expansion pack of some sort for the Wii allowing those with the Les Paul guitar to find more reason to jam.


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