Review by Llamaman2

"Are you ready to rock on your Wii? Well now's a good time to start."

I have passed by the Guitar Hero craze since the beginning, until now. Having not owned either a PS2 or a 360, I didn't have the chance besides once to play the game. I wasn't blown away the first time I played, and I didn't plan to ever be. Then, I heard the third release (this one) was coming to the Wii. I decided that when it finally came out, I would buy it and hope I enjoyed it more. As the months came to weeks, my anticipation rose and rose, listening to songs on my IPOD couldn't hold me back. I started to worry if I was over-hyping the game for myself, thus ruining the experience. After only playing for 30 minutes, I realized I couldn't enjoy this game any more.

Considering the fact I am a first time Guitar Hero'er, my score and opinion of this game may be a bit different than the experienced Guitar Heroist. I can't base anything in this review against past games, so everything I say is going to reflect this game, and not how it improves on the series. Onto the substance of the review!

I must say, the graphics are not great. And by not great, I mean mediocre/almost bad. Luckily for Guitar Hero though, graphics play little to no role in the overall satisfaction. Being a rhythm game, you are usually concentrated on the fret board and the notes flying down the screen. Either way, I can still pick out lots of problems here. My biggest concern is with characters that are not the guitarist. The singer has problems with his mouth moving with the song. I also think the character design for the singer isn't so great, but that's an opinion, and not a flaw. Next up for my criticism is the bassist. While nothing is too wrong with movement, the whole face of hair is a horrible decision. The drummer is the worst of the lot. His motions aren't fluid whatsoever, and react like a stick. The drums he plays don't always seem to match what sound is coming out, and the drummer himself is too blocky and doesn't appear to be on the same level as the rest of the band.

Despite all my criticism, there are some good things Guitar Hero does graphically. The main guitarist you play as is detailed well and movements are believable. Most of the guitarists actions are correctly mapped onto the guitar, so that it seems he/she is actually playing the song. The guitars aren't great, but they are a little better than mediocre. Some really shine and the gloss just reflects off making it look great. Others look very bland and textures aren't existent. The strings look to be connected to the guitar and not resting above it. Slash is very well designed and details were added that make him the best looking character in my opinion. The venues look pretty good as well. After watching the 360 version in action, I was a bit disappointed with the Wii, but the venues still have most of the design intact. Lastly, the most important part of the graphics, your fret board. Everything is perfect, notes are vibrant and easy to differentiate, and hammer on/pull off notes are easy to distinguish. Only gripe is the sometimes when star power is deployed, the notes seem to blend together a bit.

Now that I've bored you with the graphical abilities of Guitar Hero III, I decided to move onto a very important aspect, the sound and song selection. Guitar Hero is successful because they use great songs and then make them playable to the average person. So, how did Activision do when picking this round of songs? I must admit I'm impressed. From the simple start of Slow Ride, all the way to the extreme difficulty of Through the Fire and The Flames, the song selection is great and offers completely different sounds of rock. By this I mean that the songs come in a variety of rock genres, such as heavy metal, classic rock, German/foreign rock, and others. Some of my favorites show up on this list, and playing a favorite song is great. No matter what your preferences, you should see a song on the list that you love, or quickly find one. From the amazing likes of songs like Paint it Black, My Name is Jonas, Welcome to the Jungle, and Knight's of Cydonia the setlist is just pure win. And though some may disagree, there are very few songs in the game that I just don't like. After playing a song a few times, you should warm up to it despite any initial feelings. Overall, after comparing this list to the others in the series, I would rate this just alongside the other two.

The quality of the sound you might ask? Well, there's absolutely no need to worry, because every song sounds perfect. There are instances though where a cover was made for the song in order to add extra to the guitar solos, making a more enjoyable experience for the player. These covers for the most part, are executed very well and fans of the song need not worry too much. I did though, have a gripe with the Rock and Roll All ‘Nite cover, which sounded quite a bit off. The number of covers is relatively low, which is good in my opinion. Also, you know that sound that comes from a missed note? Well, it doesn't sound too great, but it is suited great for the job. The not so good sound quality from the Wiimote makes the mistake seem scratchy and loud, which is what just right. I've probably repeated myself and bored you to death, but bear with me, I'm moving on.

For complete newbie's emerging onto the Guitar Hero scene, you may be wondering about how you play. In the game, you use an included plastic guitar and use the fret buttons, strum and whammy bars to play classic (or modern) rock songs. The idea was brilliant, because it lets people actually feel like they are playing the guitar. There are a total of 5 fret buttons, and pushing one down while simultaneously hitting the strum bar allows you to play a note, much like a real guitar. You play a mixture of single notes, chords, and long notes to play each individual song. Notes known as hammer-on or pull-off notes will also come into play as you increase the difficulty. Another gameplay feature is star power. Hitting strings of notes marked with a star allows you to gain star power, which will double your multiplier. Hitting consecutive notes will increase your multiplier and your score, allowing you to try to perfect or just 5-star a song. Enough of this though, let me move on to the features.

In this version of Guitar Hero, we are graced with multiple modes in which to rock out. You can start your own career, where you play through each song and earn money to buy guitars, characters, outfits, and songs. You progress by beating 3/4 songs (depending on difficulty) then playing an encore song. There are 8 total tiers to progress through, as well as many bonus songs you can play after purchasing them. Next stop on the feature train is Co-Op Career. Instead of playing by yourself, find a friend and rock out alongside him/her. One person plays the guitar/lead and the other plays the bass/rhythm. This adds an extra fun factor because you get to enjoy the game with a friend. If co-op isn't your cup of tea when it comes to multiplayer, try one of the competitive modes. There is battle mode in which you collect powerups to try and fail your opponent, or face-offs where you both compete for the top score. Those are the main features of GH, but I can't forget to mention the online.

The addition of online is great and allows people without guitar hero friends to test their skills against others. Create a profile and prepare for your best, because there are lots of good rockers out there. Choose from any of the multiplayer modes, on any difficulty, for any number of songs. To see what you need to do to become the best, online leaderboards are handy. Not only can you play against any random stranger, you can also enter the friend code of another person and select to play with them. One problem I have found is that at least now, the online players seem to be on the lower side. You'll still be able to find matches though.

Wow! What a long-winded review. It took me a few days to type this baby up, so if my writing style changed throughout sections, that's why. I hope that this review may have pushed some of you neutral folks over the fence, because this is truly one of the gems out there. Rhythm games are becoming more and more popular, and for now, they still turn up great. Rock out everyone.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/29/08

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

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