Review by TheeMikester

"ROKK ON DOODS!!!"

The first Guitar Hero game received extremely high positive reviews almost as if the reviews were small bits of iron and the game was a powerful magnet. Nobody had seen anything like this before (well, except for GuitarFreaks, but that was a lot less fun), and it came to such crowd acclaim that it became the top sleeper hit for 2005, for no one expected it to take the world as fast as it did. Guitar Hero II improved on that by far, improving the hammer ons and pull offs, adding more tracks, and just improving the game engine by far. Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's was a bit of a flop, simply because it was a rehashed version of Guitar Hero II, just with less songs.

Then, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was announced. People instantly became ecstatic to play the new Guitar Hero. They wanted to become a Guitar Hero. Well, this game makes it possible.

The basic goal of the game is to become the new greatest rock stars. You start out with crummy equipment in a crummy venue, and you have to work your way up the fame ladder.

There are small colored circles coming toward you on a fretboard. In order to play them, you must hold the button on the guitar that corresponds with the note coming towards you. When it hits the bottom of the fretboard, you have to strike the strum bar in order to correctly play the note. A single note is worth fifty points, a two note chord is worth one hundred points, etc. After you have hit a series of ten notes perfectly without overstrumming (strumming the bar when there is no note to be played), you gain a multiplier of 2X. This can be increased to 3X and 4X, as long as you keep the combo going. Chords are played like single notes; however, they cannot be hammered on. Also, they are worth twice a regular note for a two note chord, three times a regular note for a three note chord, etc. There are also new chords in this game: The GYO (Green yellow orange) chord, and a four note chord is in one of the songs as well, to the dismay of many players.

There are also small phrases of glowing notes called Star Power Phrases. If you hit them perfectly without overstrumming, you gain one quarter of the bar of star power. It needs to be half filled in order to activate it. When activated, your multiplier will double (causing a 2X to become a 4X), and every note you hit will increase your rock meter more dramatically than before, making it a great strategic tool in the passing of songs. You may also whammy sustains in star power phrases to add to your star power meter.

If you miss a note or overstrum, any combo you have breaks, as well as not being able to complete the Star Power Phrase if you were working on one. Your rock meter also goes down. Miss too many notes, and you fail the song, get booed off the stage, and much more; however, there are a few achievements for failing songs a certain amount of times. On your first playthrough, chances are you'll get it without trying.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock far surpasses the game play of it's predecessors. First of all, the wireless Les Paul actually weighs something, making it feel more like a guitar. Whammy lag is gone on most controllers, and if you encounter one that does have lag, it can be calibrated. Star power has far less lag, and, well, it's wireless. Plus, it's far more durable, meaning you won't break your guitar in half as easily as the previous Xplorer. The detachable neck is a problem, for sometimes the buttons don't register, but putting a rubber band on the two knobs on the neck and the body should solve that (be sure to blow on it like an NES cartridge first, and maybe wipe it with a Q-Tip). This controller, since it is not wired, does require batteries, and, unfortunately, as of now, there is no rechargeable pack, so you are stuck with standard AAs. It takes two AAs to power it, and it doesn't completely suck them out, so it won't be a gigantic hole in your pocket.

The hammer-ons and pull offs aren't negotiated by a machine, therefore one cannot hammer on a series of notes for a full two minutes, which is why it seems there is a random strum in a series of notes that would normally be hammered on. The window of timing is improved, therefore making it far easier to hit the notes. This compensates for the raised difficulty from the previous games.

There is also a new mode called Battle mode, in which players unleash power ups (achieved similarly to star power; however, whammying a sustain in the phrase makes no difference) to make the foe miss notes and fail the song. First one to fail loses. If both players make it through the song, then a sudden death match happens in which both players only get Death Drain attacks to use on each other to end the match quickly. Co-Op, (a mode in which one player plays lead guitar and the other plays bass/rhythm), Face off (a mode in which players take turns to play sets of notes from the song, highest score wins), and Pro Face Off (a mode in which both players play the same difficulty with the same notes and the same star power, also uses score to determine winner of match) modes remain the same.

This game also features on line competition on XBOX LIVE. A player can compete in both ranked and player matches (The first is for rank on leaderboards and for achievements, the latter is to just have fun mostly) against an on line foe. Four matches can be played (three for Ranked), and those are Battle, Face Off, Pro Face Off, and Co-Op (only for player matches). It's best if you create a match, for the on line is terrible for many people. It's impossible for some people to join a game, even if there is a full ping setting.

A new feature for Guitar Hero is that you have to achieve things to get certain songs; for example, one must beat career mode in order to earn the ability to play Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce. Some songs are also only able to be played on line and in quick play; not on career, which makes a bit of a reason to actually play quick play. Also, some achievements can only be earned in quick play (such as Star Mania).

The graphics are far improved this time around. The characters got a complete makeover, turning them from teen-like in Guitar Hero II to more adult like in Guitar Hero III. There are also multiple outfits to choose from, both in style and color, and one also gets a style change right away (being able to change colors with the first outfit, you have to buy the second).

The soundtrack is absolutely unbelievable. Some of the songs, admittedly, are not very fun to play and not Guitar Hero suited, and the learning curve is a problem (going from tier 7 to 8 is a very difficult jump) to many people, it can be dealt with. There are more tracks than any other guitar hero game (I have not reached an exact count, but think 75-80 or more, since I am not sure if I have unlocked them all), and, as said before, some require some effort to actually achieve.

Overall, this game is a great game. The game play is improved, the graphics are far improved, there are more songs, the songs are fun to play most of the time, and, hello, YOU CAN PLAY ON LIVE. However, joining a game on LIVE can be frustrating, and some of the songs are just not fun to play. Also, the learning curve is a bit more steep. Even through all that, this is easily, so far, the best game of 2007. Now, don't kill me for saying this is better than Halo 3.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/07

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


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