Review by nintendosega

Reviewed: 01/01/08

An extremely fun game that anyone can get a lot out of

This was my first Guitar Hero and I've gotta say, I've found one of the most fun games I've ever played here. I was never really into the whole Guitar Hero/DDR thing, but after seeing all the hype Guitar Hero II received, I finally tried out Guitar Hero III and, simply put, it's amazing.

I've owned a Wii since launch, and despite Nintendo's claims of it being the system to fully "immerse you in the game," nothing on the system's yet managed to do that like Guitar Hero III has, and ironically, it's on pretty much every alive platform at the moment. But playing this game with the included guitar controller is pretty much as immersive as it gets. When you get on a streak, especially on a hard song, it feels awesome; it's like you're actually playing the song for real. I realize that it probably doesn't feel anything like playing the guitar in real life, but Guitar Hero III pretty much shows us how it might feel to play guitar in a band and be cheered on by a crowd, and it's a great feeling.

Gameplay: The gameplay to this game is pretty much how you'd expect from the genre; notes scroll from the top of the screen and you have to hit them on the guitar at the right moment, while at the same time hitting the strum button with your thumb. For long notes you hold down the keys, and are free to add your own "spin" to the notes with the "whammy bar," which is a perfect way to add your own personality to the songs you play. It was a pretty smart idea and the game wouldn't be the same without it. There are 4 difficulty settings; Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert. The way this game was designed was perfect; Easy is a perfect way to start the game for new players, as it slowly eases you into the game. Most gamers will be very eager, though, to jump into Medium as soon as possible, and smartly, the game does NOT feature songs exclusive to certain you're not really missing anything if you decide mid-way through Easy to switch to Medium and play the game from the beginning on Medium. Each difficulty feels completely unique and as a result you never feel like you're restarting the game again when you select a new difficulty. To date I've fully completed Medium, I've gotten about half way through Easy, I've gotten about 1/4 through Hard, and I didn't even go near Expert yet. But the game's designed so there's a feeling of progression; once you beat Easy, you're good enough to jump into Medium without TOO much trouble. Same when going from Medium to Hard. You definitely feel the increase in difficulty, but it doesn't really overwhelm the player. That said, though, there are some REALLY hard songs in here, but the game doesn't feel tedious; like with a real instrument, practicing over time will allow you to get better, and that's what noticeably happens here. Activision, who took over the series from Harmonix, who went on to make Rock Band, wisely upped the difficulty, trusting that fans who played through Guitar Hero's 1 and 2 were looking for a challenge. It ends up perfectly, as this game will challenge not only die-hard Guitar Hero fans, but will also not be too hard for new Guitar Hero players, who slowly move their way up through this game. The story's told through quick, dialogue-free animated scenes, and they have a cool sense of style. Same for the cartoony graphics and characters; I really like how this game looks.

Exclusive to the Wii version is rumble (since the Wii remote slips into the guitar, the game makes use of its rumble when in Star Power mode.) To trigger Star Power, like all the other versions, you must move the guitar quickly. With the Wii's superior motion sensing, (superior to the guitar that I played with on the 360 version, anyway,) it's much smoother to transition into Star Power mode. When in this mode, you get much more points for your notes, and the volume increases and the crowd cheers loudly, and the feeling's pretty exhilarating. When you miss a note, the sound comes out of the Wii Remote's speaker rather than the TV itself, which made a huge difference to me, making it sound much less disruptive and therefore making the songs sound much clearer. Those who don't like this exclusive feature can, of course, turn it off.

The game features an online mode as well, which is a fun way to play other people without buying a 2nd guitar. The online play is smooth and very customizable, and there never seemed to be a shortage of people to play against. There's an online community, as well, across all platforms, that you can register for and compare your scores to people on all systems. Overall, the game's very well connected. I just hope we on the Wii get voice chat for Guitar Hero IV, as it would make the online experience even better.

The boss fights were a nice addition, and while they don't feel particularly well-designed, (it's basically about getting 3 powers and using them at once,) they're alright. I think it would have been better if it was a battle for a high score, rather than being about trying to make the CPU opponent lose the song.

Audio: At the moment, due to some sort of glitch, the Wii version does not support Stereo sound, but for those worried about it, don't worry, Activision will replace all discs for FREE with re-mastered ones which will include stereo sound. (Starting in early 2008.) It's definitely not noticable at all, though, on a regular sound system; I imagine it would be if you tried to play it in on a surround system, so it's great that they're offering free replacements. The soundtrack itself is really cool, offering a huge variety of rock songs, and while I wish there were some more contemporary ones in there, what's there is really great and even songs I hated, I still had fun playing. The creators of Guitar Hero really struck gold, and this game's just complete fun, almost 100% of the time.

Graphics: (probably the least important part of the game)... The animation on the band is often pretty stiff (especially the drummer) and the lead singer's lip movements aren't always perfect. Visuals overall, despite nice lighting and great style, are pretty underwhelming. The 360 version looks a bit better, but even the graphics on that aren't too impressive. Hopefully Activision steps that up for the next game.

Replay Value: There's a lot to do in Guitar Hero III. Playing the game on each difficulty takes plenty of time, especially Hard and Expert, which will give most people a run for their money. There's also a large amount of bonus tracks to buy, as well as a ton of other unlockables, and there's also a rating system, so you're free to try to get great ratings on your songs. The online play and co-op play (if you've got 2 guitars in the room,) also add replay value. I can picture many people still playing this by the time Guitar Hero IV comes out.

Overall: In an age when the top-selling games are all M-rated or otherwise are all franchises from the 80's like Mario, it's great to see a new type of game come along and sell as well as Guitar Hero has. It offers a really unique experience and this installment in particular is a great place to start. It's great for both long-time fans and new fans alike; Activision's done a great job at continuing this franchise. The game's so fun and addicting, as well as very empowering, especially when you get on a roll in a hard song, that it's going to make a lot of kids want to start really learning how to play the real guitar, and that's a pretty cool thing too about this series. It's a lot of fun and I hope it continues to sell well and that Activision keeps up the quality we've seen here in future installments.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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

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