Review by Nemesissy
"Excellent rocking-out fun"
The 3rd installment in a billion dollar franchise, and the first on the Wii, is Legends of Rock. Following the same pattern as its predecessors, it's a rhythm game. And a real good fun game too.
To play, you use the guitar controller in a similar fashion to a real guitar. You use your left (right if you're a lefty) hand to hold down the coloured fret buttons and the right hand to move the whammy and strum bar. A very simple concept that is easy to get to grips with. The 5 coloured frets (green, red, yellow, blue and orange) simply need to be held down. As you hold them down, you move the strum bar up/down with your other hand to play the note as it is displayed on screen. This can be quite tricky for the harder difficulty levels, but it's still a simple concept.
On screen, you have a moving fret board. As the song plays, coloured discs fall down the screen. Once they reach the bottom, you hold down the same colour of fret and move the strum bar. Unlike some other rhythm games, you don't get extra points for how perfect you hit the note. Some notes must be held down, indicated by the long coloured bar trailing behind the coloured disc. Just keep holding down the fret button after playing the note to hold it. There are also chords (2 or 3 notes played at once), and you simply hold down more than one fret button at a time. By knowing all this, you've practically mastered the basics already.
The game comes with 4 difficulties: Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. The difficulty level determines the number of notes that appear, and the fret buttons used. Easy only uses the Green, Red and Yellow frets, and will only be challenging to those who've never played a Guitar Hero game before. Even then, after 20 minutes, it'll be a walk in the park. Then Medium adds the Blue fret and more notes. Hard adds the final Orange fret, and Expert doesn't add any more frets, but has more notes than Hard mode.
The jump between difficulty modes can be a little too big. Easy to Medium can be easy, but Medium to Hard can be tricky. As you may have realised, when holding the guitar, you only have 4 fingers but 5 fret buttons. This requires moving your hand, just like a real guitar. This may fill people with dread, but you will get used to it eventually. The large jump in difficulty may put some off though, but don't let it.
To pass a song, you must simply play until it finishes. Your audience (which is very patient in the easier difficulties) will cheer or boo you as you play. If you keep hitting notes, your meter will be in the green. Miss a few, and the meter will turn yellow. Constantly miss, and it'll go red. Any further, and you'll get booed off, and you'll have failed the song. In Easy, the meter won't move down so much when you miss notes. In Expert or Hard, the meter will move up very slowly, and move down very quickly. Just like a real concert!
Despite what you may think seems normal, the game doesn't determine your skill at a song by the number of notes you successfully hit. It determines it by your score. You gain points for every note hit. Hit ten notes in a row, and your score multiplier is set to 2. Another 10 notes, and it goes to 3. Another 10 and it goes to 4, the highest it can. This means every time you hit a note, the normal amount of points you get is multiplied by 4! But just one mistake takes your multiplier back down to 0, so keep that run going! I personally prefer judging your skill by the number of notes hit, as it's possible to get a better score than someone else despite hitting less notes, but whatever floats your boat.
The game has a Career mode in which you play the guitarist in a band which starts off as a popular neighbourhood band that plays in their backyard. Each 'tier' in career mode has 4 songs that must be completed, plus an extra 'Encore song', and sometimes even a Guitar Battle against one of the game's boss characters. There are 8 tiers, and when combined with the many unlockable songs, that's a load of songs for you to play through. The Career mode has a storyline....sort of. It's displayed through cutscenes (without dialogue) between tiers, showing your band's rise to fame. The storyline doesn't matter. All that does is the songs. Thankfully the cutscenes only last 20 seconds max, meaning more playing time!
Career mode can be played on all 4 difficulty levels, allowing you to get better at the game gradually. During your career mode, you'll earn money for your gigs. The higher the difficulty level and the higher your score at the end of the song, the more money you get. Money can be used to buy unlockable songs, or new characters, or guitars. It's all cosmetic and you'll be too busy looking at the fret board to notice it in the background. Nice to have the option though.
The graphics weren't really required to be gamebreaking here, and they aren't, but they're still good. Character models are good, as are the guitars. The game is really about having fun playing the songs, so unless the graphics are shockingly bad, they don't matter.
The songs included are all popular rock songs from popular bands such as Guns 'n' Roses, Black Sabbath, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, and Aerosmith, etc. When moving through the menus (you use the strum bar to move up and down, and the Green/Red frets to choose menus) the music played in the background is the different songs in the game, so the game doesn't really have that much original sounds. Irrelevant, as the songlist is fine.
Multiplayer is where the game really shines. You can go through Career mode with a friend in a special Co-Op mode, where one plays Lead Guitar and another plays Bass. You can also battle them in a Face-Off (Choose a song, and while it plays, you play a section, then your opponent, then you again, and so on), or Pro Face-Off (Same as Face-Off except both of you play the entire song). The winner is the one with the most points. There's also the new Battle mode, where you and your opponent play a song and get power-ups along the way. Tilting your guitar upwards activates it. Power-ups include disabling one of your opponent's frets, or flipping their fret board around so they have to play backwards. It's all great fun and competitive. You can play the same modes online too, for more fun!
The lifespan of this game will probably be until Guitar Hero 4 comes out, meaning it's a game capable of standing the test of time. You'll be rocking til the new game comes, especially with the online mode, which means unlimited playing.
A great piece of party fun, and possibly the best party game on the Wii (which is saying something considering the number of party games on the Wii). Great on your own, but even better with someone else. Must buy!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/25/08
Game Release: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (w/Guitar) (EU, 11/23/07)
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