Review by pixielate_com

"Now with public humiliation, yay!"

Guitar Hero III : Legends of Rock brings longevity to the Guitar Hero series with online play and more shiny things to unlock and buy. You may be a little cheezed at the incentives to buy new controllers for each Guitar Hero release, but the wireless is definitely worth it. The tracklist isn't any larger, but the promise of downloadable content keeps the game fresh long after its predecessors would wither.

The basics are not tough to tackle and haven't changed: notes correspond to buttons on the controller both in color and in fret positioning. They come at you like the dotted line on a freeway and you have to press your buttons and use the strum bar in time to the music, as the notes disappear from the screen. If you play horribly or stop playing altogether, you'll be booed from the stage. If you do well, you can get bonuses in points, money, and cheers from the crowd. It doesn't sound tough, but damned if I know how people play this game on expert mode! (At that point, you may be set for a REAL guitar.)

GHIII still has the basic bevy of selectable avatars, graduated difficulty in 40-odd songs as you progress through career mode, along with a two-player co-op mode that's probably never seen the light of day. Until now.

The online play offers co-op, face-off, and pro face-off modes in both ranked and unranked matches. You can play randomized songs or have each player select a song. In all modes except the pro face-off, you play a duet with different parts. Players can select their own difficulty mode, so even though I suck and play easy or hard, I've had the pleasure to witness some talented players in hard mode and compete with them based off accuracy alone - just because they're playing a more difficult piece does not guarantee their victory. In battle mode, sections you play well earn you tricks to play on your competitor, like cutting one of their strings or electrifying their fretboard. There are songs in co-op mode that aren't available in single-player mode, so all of this extends the replay value of the game immensely.

There are some other fun new bits. The franchise took notes from the Karaoke Revolution series and added more characters, more guitars, and more outfits for you to buy with the money you earn in career mode. The occasional guitarist comes out to challenge you in career mode, and you get to play a track characteristic of their style. For example: Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine plays a scratching, syncopated duet with you. If you beat him, you get to play a RATM solo as an encore. Slash from Guns N' Roses also has an appearance in this game, along with an original devil character "Lou" (who challenges you to "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" - what else?). These battles are fun and unexpected, but I wish there were more of them!

I have mixed feelings about the track list. As the title would suggest, this release is definitely more butt-rock-centric than its predecessors. Most of the recordings are the masters, so you get the pleasure of listening to a few of your favorite songs in their original glory. Some of the songs are brand new - I even have a few of these on my iPod at the moment. But there are less chart-toppers and fun songs than previous releases. Like before, the "bonus tracks" are probably tracks you've never heard of, and with good reason. Unless you're playing in co-op mode, the 42 songs on your normal setlist get old very fast, and there will only be a handful that you will want to play regularly.

The controller comes with stickers for your axe, and interchangeable faceplates can be purchased. Sam may want to buy another faceplate, since I plan on decorating our default with pink stars, hearts, and glittery unicorns. There are animation sequences between each venue, and they're well done; stylistically similar to a Gorillaz video. The interface is less annoying when moving between songs and difficulty modes.

Overall, GHIII is an upgrade, and is more likely to hold your attention than previous Guitar Hero games. If you never plan on playing online or co-op, you may want to rent it, reuse your old controller, or make sure you love the track list before giving the cashier your Benjamin Franklin.

The saga of Divastrummer continues. And if you see me in battle, I apologize in advance for sucking and always selecting Weezer.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/05/07

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

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