Review by Sour

Reviewed: 03/12/10 | Updated: 07/06/10

Smashing through the boundaries, Guitar Hero has found them, and cannot stop Metallica!

As Guitar Hero continued to make waves in the video game industry, drawing in heavy revenue, bands began signing up to have Guitar Hero games made in their image. Aerosmith was the first to do this, and Metallica would be the next. Guitar Hero: Metallica was an instant success, especially among Metallica fans. Some were a bit let down, as their favorite songs didn't make the playlist. Guitar Hero: Metallica is arguably the hardest Guitar Hero since Guitar Hero III. Many of the bands older and speedier songs made it onto the playlist, offering a great challenge. Guitar Hero: Metallica is one of the strongest entries in the series and kept the trend of bands having their own Guitar Hero games going.

Story: 10/10: As per usual, you and your band are a cover band, starting out playing small-time gigs. However, this time you're a Metallica cover band. You and your band start out playing small gigs and start to gain notoriety, even among the actual band. Another band auditions for Metallica's opening act, and the leader of the band (who obviously happens to be Lou from Guitar Hero III, a nice little cameo here) has James Hetfield (lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of Metallica) sign a contract. Metallica however discovers your band and decides on you, signing you up to be their opening act. Lou attempts to invoke the contract Metallica signed, but upon doing so, Lou is shown a photo of James crossing his fingers behind his back while signing the contract, and Lou returns to the bowels of Hell, leaving you to be Metallica's opening act.

Game-play 10/10: For those who don't know, the Guitar Hero series is a series of rhythm games. You use a special controller that looks like a guitar with five buttons along the fretboard. The notes come down the highway (an endless fretboard that scrolls towards the screen with the notes sitting on it), they hit the strike line where you must press the indicated button on the fretboard and hit the strum bar simultaneously. The game features the the typical four difficulties: Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert, along with a new mode that was introduced in Guitar Hero: World Tour, Beginner mode. In Beginner mode you can hit any note as a multi-colored bar hits the strike line. This can help newcomers familiarize themselves with the game. Easy mode makes use of the first three buttons, Medium uses four of them, and Hard and Expert mode make use of all five buttons. Guitar Hero: Metallica has another returning feature, finger-picking notes. These notes don't require you to strum but if you don't, you must press the button individually, you can't just hold it down. It also features the slider bar support. The finger-picking notes will have a rope or string of sorts between them that help you if you want to use the slider bar, showing you which direction to slide in.

As you hit (or miss) notes, your rock meter will go up and down accordingly. The rock meter resembles a fuel gauge which as previously stated, goes up or down depending on whether you hit or miss the note. Once it's empty, you fail the song and must try again. To help you out with those tricky solos, you'll see start-shaped noted that appear in succession in what are known as "Star Phrases". Hit all of two star phrases and you'll be able to activate star power by tilting the guitar or pressing the select button. Upon doing this, notes that are hit will increase your rock meter significantly. If you wish, when one of the star notes is a hold note, you can hit the whammy bar and increase the star power meter more rapidly. Again, this can help greatly with difficult solos.

Graphics: 10/10: The graphics since Guitar Hero III have gotten even better. They're not PS3 graphics mind you, but this also isn't the PS3 version. Guitar Hero: Metallica pushed the PS2 to it's limits visually, giving the characters a fairly realistic look. The highway and the notes, like World Tour, are smaller than in Guitar Hero III. They're not microscopic but it gives it a certain cleanliness that's pleasing to the eyes. The backgrounds look amazing as well, showing computer-rendered models of real-life venues that Metallica has played at during their career. The cut scenes are in a neat, hand-drawn appearing style. They did an amazing job here and the graphics would continue to improve throughout the series.

Sound: 10/10: This game, as you might expect, is chock full of Metallica songs. I would've liked a lot of other songs to make the list, but I wouldn't want to see any of the ones they picked go away either. The PS3 and 360 versions have all of the Death Magnetic album as download able content. Since the PS2 doesn't support DLC, the PS2 version was given some of the Death Magnetic tracks as a freebie. These songs would be Cyanide, My Apocalypse, and Broken, Beat, & Scarred. The game also features a large amount of the band's older, heavier material. Such as Hit the Lights, Master of Puppert, Fight Fire with Fire, Battery, and Disposable Heroes. In addition to Metallica songs, Metallica handpicked other songs to be on the game from other bands that they looked up to, one of which is arguably the first speed metal song, Stone Cold Crazy by Queen. The game also includes tracks by System of a Down (Toxicity), Motorhead (Ace of Spades), Slayer (War Ensemble), Diamond Head (Am I Evil), and plenty more.

Overall: 10/10: Yet another must-have for any Metallica or Guitar Hero fan. It reigns as one of the hardest in the series and delivers a great setlist of songs to play. The highway is cleaned up a bit and the battle mode from Guitar Hero III even makes a return, albeit only in two-player mode. Either way it's a great addition to the franchise and another chapter in the life and world of Metallica's turbulent career. So pick up that guitar and rock out with one of the greatest bands in the world!

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Guitar Hero: Metallica (US, 04/14/09)

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