Review by horror_spooky
"Heroes will always be remembered, but legends never die"
The first Guitar Hero is an absolute classic that will be played and remembered as one of the most influential games ever and one of the most important games of the sixth generation. The game converted plenty of people to gaming, and that's exactly what the industry needs. Its sequel, Guitar Hero II, while still a very solid game, just didn't have the same magic that the original had. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock recaptures some of that lost magic, but there are some poor design choices that hold it back from the greatness of the original.
Guitar Hero III is by and large the same game as its predecessors but with a few a tweaks and additions to set it apart. The basic set up of any Guitar Hero game is to beat a set of songs in order to continue to the next set of songs and keep on going like that until you've completed all of the songs. Along the way, you earn cash that can be used to purchase new characters, songs, guitars, and this time around music videos and you also unlock bonus songs based on your total score.
If you are somehow unfamiliar with Guitar Hero, you use a plastic guitar with the colors green, red, yellow, blue and orange on the neck. You have to hit these buttons as their colors show up on the screen and line up with their corresponding circle at the bottom and strum as you do it. There are some notes that are in the shape of stars and if you hit enough of them, you will gain Star Power. You activate your Star Power by tilting the guitar, and this doubles your combo multiplier to maximize your score for that particular song. There are four difficulties to choose from, easy, medium, hard, and expert to master.
Guitar Hero on the Wii though is a bit annoying. You have to take your Wii remote out of its jacket and connect it into the back of the guitar into a connector identical to that on a nunchuck. You then have to navigate through the Wii's menus by using a clunky analog stick on the guitar. This becomes quite irritating, especially if you need the remote to play another game and you have to unhook it and put it back in its jacket again.
Just like in the previous games, Star Power doesn't always activate when you tilt the guitar. This can cause you to screw up some notes and mess up a streak and other times the Star Power goes off by itself without you even tilting the guitar. This can become a problem if you were saving Star Power for a particularly difficult stretch of a song and you've now lost it.
The difficulty has also been upped for this installment and for the worse. Some of the songs are difficult to the point that it's ridiculous, even on lower difficulties, and they aren't even difficult in a fair way. The new Guitar Hero developers (Neversoft, the people that make the Tony Hawk games) made some of the songs with pretty much random notes thrown in that don't even fit the beat of the song for no other reason than to have these extremely hard songs in the game. This can become pretty frustrating, especially when these songs aren't based on skill but rather blind dumb luck.
A pretty major new addition to the series is guitar battles. After every so often in career mode, you will be prompted to play guitar against a famous guitarist. You take turns playing a part of a song, and every once in a while, oddly shaped notes pop up that take the place of Star Power notes. By hitting these notes, you earn special abilities that you can activate by tilting the guitar. These abilities hinder your opponent, such as making it impossible for them to hit the notes unless they move their whammy bar really fast and making it so the notes randomly disappear off the screen. While these battles feel gimmicky at first, you will soon grow to enjoy them and their neat level of strategy that accompanies.
Co-op and versus multiplayer modes are available, so if you happen to enjoy those guitar battles a lot you can duke it out with a friend. The multiplayer doesn't really impress much though, especially since the online is terribly laggy and barely noteworthy at all.
I really never thought I'd see the day where I'd be reviewing the story of a Guitar Hero game but here it is. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock actually has a plot to it, and surprisingly, there is a decent twist in there. The basic premise is that whatever character you choose is an aspiring guitarist who joins a garage band and with you, the garage band reaches new heights and sign record deals. It's a simple plot and one that doesn't develop a lot, but it's interesting that the developers actually attempted inserting a plot into a Guitar Hero title.
Here's another area where Guitar Hero III suffers pretty badly. The graphical presentation is absolutely dreadful with terrible looking environments and puke-worthy backgrounds. The character models are okay but they are a little jagged and the crowd looks just as bad. I don't know why this game looks so terrible when its competition, Rock Band, looks amazing on the Wii. Hell, the first two Guitar Hero games on the PlayStation 2 look much better than this. There is simply no reason for this game to look so damn bad.
Obviously, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock shines in the audio department. It is a music/rhythm game after all. There are 42 songs for you to master, and there's a nice variety this time around. You aren't limited to just classic rock anymore; there are now songs by Slipknot and Disturbed as well other more modern bands and songs. When you mess up on notes, the terrible sound that used to emit loudly from your TV now comes out of the Wii remote, and it doesn't sound nearly as awful, which is a plus. If I were to individually score the audio of Guitar Hero III, it'd easily be a ten.
It will only take you two to four hours to go through the career mode for the first time but beating the career mode on every difficulty is a pretty impressive task to overcome. There are bonus songs as well for you to master and there are also plenty of unlockable guitars, characters, videos and songs. Scoring perfect on every song on every difficulty is something that's very nearly impossible in this installment but I guess it's just something for you to attempt. The multiplayer, while not very innovative, is at the very least solid so you might be able to squeeze some more time out of that even though the online is way below average.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock feels a lot like the original Guitar Hero with the way the songs are designed but some of the other songs just feel terrible in terms of design and nearly impossible to beat. The graphics are inexcusably horrible but the game still provides that classic Guitar Hero gameplay that we've all come to known and love. Can the series that started it all compete with games like Rock Band? I think so and with Guitar Hero: World Tour taking Rock Band head on with its own set of drums and a microphone it'll be interesting to see how this battle of rhythm game series ends.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/09
Game Release: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (w/Guitar) (US, 10/28/07)
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