Review by Sour

"It's time to rock out!"

Guitar Hero took the world by storm. Guitar Hero II improved over the first. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock made even larger improvements, bordering on perfect. This was my first Guitar Hero game. I quickly became hooked for a very long time and still like to go back and play it now and again. The brainchild of Activision and Neversoft, Guitar Hero III would become one of the best-selling games of it's generation. Some take pot shots at people who like the series (now a genre at this point), saying us Guitar Hero players think we can play real guitar. I never said I could. In fact I know someone who enjoys playing both. That being said, here's why it's so addictive to some.

Story: 10/10: You start off as a small-time cover band. Your gigs gain you notoriety in the world, earning you bigger and bigger venues and audiences. You even meet a few famous rock artists along the way. Slash, formerly of Guns 'N' Roses, and Tom Morello, formerly of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. You then sign a contract with the CEO of a record label, which would prove to be the band's undoing. After your band becomes world famous, the person you signed a contract with reveals himself to be none other than the devil himself, and you'll be playing concerts in Hell for all of eternity. By playing the best of the best, and the hardest songs, you can win your soul back in a final showdown, a guitar duel with the devil himself.

Game-play: 10/10: For those who don't know by now, Guitar Hero is a series of rhythm games. You play with a specialized controller that resembles a guitar. The guitar controller has five buttons along the fretboard. On-screen is what's known as a "highway". An endless fretboard. As the highway moves, small notes appear along it. When the note lines up with the button indicator, you must press that button and strum. To make it easier, you can hold down the button before the note reaches the strike line and strum when the note hits it. There are four difficulty modes. Easy Mode only makes use of the first three buttons. Green, Red, and Yellow. On top of that there are less notes and the highway moves slower. Medium moves a bit faster, only slightly, and incorporates the fourth button, the blue one. There are also slightly more notes in this mode. Hard mode makes use of all five buttons. Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, and Orange. In this mode, the highway moves even faster and obviously has much more notes. For me, the hardest transition was from Medium to Hard, as it took me a year. Then there's Expert. Expert moves noticeably faster than hard mode and makes you match the song note for note.

Of course, if you miss too many notes in succession, the rock meter on the left hand side will begin to fall. It reads like a gas gauge and when it's empty, you lose. To help you out in hard parts, some of the notes will be in a star shape. It's usually several notes in a row (called "Star Phrases"), and if you can hit all of them, it fills up your Star Power meter. Once you hit two star phrases, the meter will turn blue and you can tilt the guitar, or push the select button, to activate Star Power. Star Power, when you hit the notes, makes your rock meter increase much faster. This can be helpful during tricky solos. To top it off, if there is a hold note that's part of a star phrase, you can wiggle the whammy bar throughout the note to make your star power increase steadily. The more you use the whammy bar on the note, the more the star power gauge will fill up.

Guitar Hero III also features three duels. One against Slash, one against Tom Morello, and one against Lou (The devil. Clever name, no?). This turns some of the notes into attacks that you can use against the other player to cripple their playability. One will make the other player have twice as many notes to hit. Another one cuts one of their strings and they have to keep pushing the button down before it can be used again. Another attack makes the difficulty ramp up a notch for them (this attack is absent on Expert as there is no harder mode). One of them, called Whammy, disables the player completely until they hit the whammy bar a certain amount of times. And then there's Amp Overload, which will cause the notes on the fretboard to randomly disappear and reappear, making it difficult to see what's coming. But remember that they get attacks too! And they will every time unless you hit them with an attack before right their attack phrase or during it.

Graphics: 10/10: This game made great visual improvements over it's predecessors. Not only are character models more fluid but the notes are smaller so they're not so massive on the screen. They're not really small, just not huge like they used to be. I prefer them at about this size, as it makes the highway a little easier to read. Especially during strings of notes, where it almost looked like they blended together in the previous two games.

Sound: 10/10: The game's songs are in excellent quality and even more are by the original artists than in the last two games. Songs include Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones, Welcome to the Jungle by Guns 'N' Roses, One by Metallica, a metal-style rendition of The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the game's resident recording artist Steve Ouimette, Through the Fire and Flames by Draonforce (song that increased their popularity for being such a fast and difficult to play song), La Grange by ZZ top, Black Magic Woman by Santana and plenty more. Overall they picked a great soundtrack, though there are some I could do without, but I think every Guitar Hero has songs that appeal to the fans of different genres of rock music.

Overall: 10/10: Guitar Hero III made a huge impact not only in the rhythm gaming community but the entire industry as well. Prompting a rival company to create Rock Band, a game extremely similar to Guitar Hero. Some also prefer Rockband over Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero has more classic rock and metal, Rockband would be what you're looking for if you like more modern rock, Linkin Park for instance. Rockband has a few good songs I admit, but I much prefer Guitar Hero for their selection of songs and the appearance of the notes. If you like rhythm games and rock music, this is the game for you, so go buy it today!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/12/10, Updated 07/06/10

Game Release: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (US, 10/28/07)


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