Review by SeiferMaster
"Quite simply the best Guitar Hero game to date"
The long awaited sequel in the Guitar Hero franchise is finally here! While the hype for this new installment in the series has been pretty high, many Guitar Hero players were worried after Harmonix was bought by MTV earlier in 2007 and development for the game switched to Neversoft. You can rest assure, not only does the game still feel like Guitar Hero, but the few additions made to the gameplay makes it one of the best Guitar Hero game to date.
The look of the game changed dramatically between and second and third title. Since the game is released on all new generation platforms, this allowed the developers to really take advantage of the power of each platforms. The result is a much more detailed and polished Guitar Hero game. While most of the characters from Guitar Hero 2 are back, they all received a big makeover and were offered different clothing options. Although some may say they messed up on some of the characters, overall, I think Neversoft did an excellent job. The singer is now in synch with the songs while they're playing, and the band now seems to really be playing each songs, although the drummer looks somewhat robotic compared to the rest of the members.
The venues are all different this time around. You'll go from a backyard to the biggest concert stages, but all the venues have been designed with a lot of attention to details. One of the minor complaint that can be said about the venues is the increase in the amount of advertising present in the game. While it wasn't that bad in previous Guitar Hero titles, featuring mainly advertising for guitar brands and such, this time around, you'll see a venue with a big Pontiac logo over it, along with other advertising from Red Bull for example. While not bad in itself, it may get on the nerves of some people. The game runs almost flawlessly, but seems to be lagging a bit when you activate star power at times, sending the frame rate way down. Whether it's a problem with the game itself or the Xbox 360 overheating, I don't know, but it can get annoying.
You can't talk about Guitar Hero without talking about the guitar it comes bundled with. This time around, the new controller was shaped like a Les Paul, and quite honestly, it is easily the best guitar available for the games as of right now. It now feels much heavier than the other ones, giving it a closer feel to an actual guitar. Everything from the strum bar, to the fret buttons and whammy bar have been changed a bit. The strum bar feels much smoother than the ones on the other guitars and the fret buttons simply feel much better. The strum bar remains pretty much the same, but it feels a bit easier to whammy with it, maybe because it's much easier to rotate with this one. The guitar now has a detachable neck, making it much easier if you want to carry it to a friend's house for example. This detachable neck might be the reason why some Les Paul controller have been defective at launch, but usually, detaching the neck then re-attaching it will solve the problem.
The game keeps pretty much the same gameplay elements Guitar Hero players have grown used to. The game still offers the main Career mode, Quickplay, Multiplayer and a Training mode if you need to practice a few songs or need to get used to the controls in the Tutorials. The difference on the main menu is the addition of a Co-op Career mode as well as the ability to play online on all current generation consoles. The game only truly makes sense if you have the guitar controller.
The game mechanics have been made a bit easier, with more forgivable strumming and the hammer ons and pull offs don't have to be exactly in synch to hit the notes this time around either. That doesn't mean the game is any easier than the previous titles. In fact, the game is actually much harder than the previous ones. The game still offers a good introduction to newcomers with the Easy and Medium difficulty levels, but on Hard and Expert, unless you've played through the other games before, you might be in for a surprise as the note charts are much harder than they were before.
The in-game interface changed quite a bit as well. For starters, the game now keeps track of your note streak and will show you a message everytime you hit an extra 100 notes without missing. A message will also be displayed every time you spare enough Star Power to use this technique. It might be annoying to the old timers already used to that system, but it is a nice addition for any new players. You'll find your Rock Meter telling you how good you're doing in the bottom right corner and your score will still be displayed right over your note streak in the bottom left corner.
The Career mode will pretty much put you as the lead guitarist of a band. When you first start your career, you'll need to pick a name for you band as well as your character and guitar. You'll then be asked to pick one of the 4 difficulties available to you before you can start rockin'. You'll first play in smaller venue like a backyard where only about 50 people can fit in until you beat a few songs. If you manage to pass enough songs, you'll be given the opportunity to play an encore, which will also unlock a new song. At the end of each performance, you'll be given a rating from 3 to 5 stars depending on how well you did, as well as some money, again depending on your rating. You'll be able to use that money to buy various goods from new guitars to new songs under the Visit Store menu.
One of the new additions to the Guitar Hero games are the Boss Battles. On 3 different occasions, you'll be given the opportunity to face off against one of the "Legends" in a guitar battle. Those battles work differently from a standard performance. In this mode, you won't be able to use Star Power. Instead, you'll receive "attacks" allowing to increase the difficulty of the song your opponent is playing or break one of his string, making him unable to play that fret unless he fixes it by pressing that fret button a few times. A very nice addition that's a nice change from the standard songs you'll be playing. This time around, they decided to add some animated cut scenes giving some kind of a story every time you complete a set of songs.
The new Co-op Career mode allows you to play through the same songs with a friend and more unlockables will be available to you depending on the difficulty at which you complete the game. The game allows both players to play on the difficulty level of their choice, so playing with a friend that's not quite as good or better than you are can still be done. Unfortunately, although they added an online mode for pretty much everything else, Co-op Career online is currently not available and might never be for Guitar Hero 3, which is extremely disappointing for anyone willing to fully complete the game if they don't have any friends with the same version of the game and a guitar to use.
The online mode allows you to either play in a ranked match or in a player match. Both offers face-off, pro face-off and battle mode, but only player match allows for co-op play. While online itself is an excellent addition to the franchise, some lag and frame rate issue might come into play every once in a while, which can be frustrating if you end up losing a match by only a few hundred points. On the good side, the game also keeps track of your best performances online and will display them on the online leaderboard so you can compare yourself to the best and your friends.
The music in the game is once again excellent. The game has a wide variety of genres from blues to metal, and with 70 songs to play, more than 70% being original master tracks, you're bound to find something you like in there. Some will argue whether or not the covers actually do justice to the original tracks, but if you've never heard some of those songs before, odds are it won't really bother you as the recordings are excellent for the most part.
The game once again offers a lot of replay value. With 70 songs to play, 4 difficulty levels, plenty of unlockables and the ability to rock online against your friends or some random stranger, the game offers replayability that doesn't even compare to the previous installments. The game features plenty of guitars to unlock, unlockable characters, new outfits and over 20 bonus songs, that alone will keep you busy for quite a while, especially if you're just getting started with Guitar Hero. For those who've been playing Guitar Hero for a while already, you'll still have to online mode that will test your skills against some of the best players in the world, and with downloadable content currently for both the PS3 and Xbox 360, you're bound to get your hands on something you'll want pretty soon if you ever get bored of the songs on there.
Overall, Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock stay true to its root despite the change of developer. The addition of the battle mode may not be the most interesting aspect when playing against someone, but it is somewhat of an interesting addition during the career mode. The game looks better than it ever has before, and the addition of the much needed online play for the game is sure to keep you busy for the next couple of weeks and months if you got hooked on the old games. With 70 tracks and over 70% of original master tracks, the game offers the widest selection of songs and shows the music industry now sees Guitar Hero as a good way to promote new and old songs and bands. While the price tag for the game/guitar bundle is much higher than other games (99$ for PS3 and 360, 89$ for PS2 and Wii), what you get will be absolutely worth your money, no matter what your skill level and music tastes are.
Replay Value: 9.5/10
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/12/07
Game Release: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (w/Guitar) (US, 10/28/07)
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