Review by clarkisdark

"Our hero has arrived"

Guitar Hero is the closest you'll get to being a rockin' guitar player while simultaneously remaining a huge nerd. It's gratifying and makes you feel like you're really playing the song, but in the end, you're still holding a plastic video game peripheral.

Similar to DDR, notes scroll down the screen and have to be hit as they pass over an outline. To do so, you hold the like button(s) on the guitar peripheral's fret and play the chord with the strum bar. It sounds cheesy, but it actually works well and is a pretty engrossing alternative to a real guitar. There are only five buttons, though, which isn't so bad once you get into the harder difficulties. That's when five buttons starts to feel like too much. This game is no cakewalk, even on Wii. Hard is barely doable, and Expert is a nightmare that, quite honestly, isn't much fun at all. But when you do nail those really tough songs, you're going to feel like a true rock star. And that's what really matters, right?

The "Legends of Rock" moniker is a little misleading, though. How can something made in 2006 or 2007 be considered legendary? It's true, a lot of the music is recent. What I liked about past Guitar Heroes were the older rock songs, the ones my parents grew up on and eventually me. Some of that is still present, but, again, 2006 seems to take precedence. And that's not entirely bad. Most of the music is still fun to play, even if it isn't great music. And with over 70 songs, it's pretty easy to toss some aside. The number of songs is a bit misleading, however, because some songs can only be played in one-player and others in multiplayer.

Of course, Guitar Hero touts downloadable content, but Wii owners won't get to partake in this. Apparently Nintendo and Activision couldn't come to some agreement on how to work out the space issue. And apparently Activision also left out true stereo sound in the Wii version. The game's no less enjoyable by being in mono, but come on, guys. Mono? Pshaw.

Also unique to the Wii version is the ability to snap the Wii remote into the guitar peripheral. It's a slick process and isn't obtrusive at all. This allows the guitar to be wireless and tilt-compatible and even puts the built-in speaker to good use. When you miss a note, the speaker makes a loud squeal to let you know how much you suck. It would have been cool if the remote made other sounds, but considering how low quality the speaker is, the appropriately obnoxious squeal is probably enough.

On the graphical front, Guitar Hero looks about as good as a PS2 game, and that's no compliment. The graphics seem really skimpy--lots of clipping issues, jittery animations, drab-looking audiences--which is a shame, because Guitar Hero oozes with style and personality otherwise. The 2D cutscenes are a delight, as are all the nods and winks to a rock star's life in the menus and loading screens. Guitar Hero III comes across as a shoddily put together product, though. The game will occasionally freeze, the guitar will stop responding, and/or the audio will fall out of sync. These issues don't happen often, but that they happen at all is truly boggling.

With a huge tracklist and tons of stuff to unlock with money earned from career mode, however, Guitar Hero III will keep you busy for a long time. It doesn't hurt that playing guitar is just so cool to begin with. Plus, there are several two-player options. I don't really care for battles, as the power-ups too easily throw the game, but I absolutely love the co-op career mode. One player plays lead guitar and the other bass, so it's not just a matter of switching off the rhythm. The two of you are actually playing a song together. And that is pretty sweet. You can even play co-op online, though you don't earn money for doing so.

Final Comments:
I am very happy Guitar Hero has finally come to a Nintendo console. Guitar Hero and Wii are a perfect match. When it comes to value for the money, though, I'd say the game is way overpriced. The bundle is $90 despite that the Wii version already has so much functionality built into the remote and features ugly PS2 graphics, no downloadable content, and other glaring technicalities like the lack of true stereo sound. When I pay $90 for a game, I expect it to have all the bells and whistles and to not periodically freeze up. Guitar Hero still kicks ass, but I can't help feeling that Wii owners were a low priority for Activision. I have to knock off a point just for that.

Score: 8.0


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/29/07

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


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