Players: 1 to 8 Player Game | Release Date: 10/28/07 | Genre: Music
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should have heard of a little game called Guitar Hero. First released on the PlayStation 2 with no expectations of becoming anything other than a niche title, Guitar Hero became an overnight success and established the musical rhythm genre as a profitable business endeavor for Harmonix and Red Octane. After successfully launching Guitar Hero 2 on multiple platforms and an 80's edition, Red Octane and Neversoft have teamed up with Activision to bring the third official chapter in this beloved franchise while Harmonix went off to EA to bring Rock Band to the consoles. With the changes in the development team, does Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock have what it takes to bring this series to the next level?
Although it would be easy to begin comparing the different ideas and design philosophies Rock Band has made versus Guitar Hero, I will leave that for another article. Guitar Hero has always been about good, solid guitar fun and Legends of Rock does not disappoint in this category. The difficulty factor in completing songs can become extremely frustrating for someone new to the series. Instead of making Guitar Hero III easier for the novice, they pumped up the challenge significantly. That isn't to say you won't be able to get through the songs on Easy and Medium. However, once you attempt Hard and Expert, you may find that brand new Guitar will soon be flung across the room in frustration. It is a bit bizarre a how the difficulty for songs gets this hard. I can understand that on Expert mode, anything should go. But there shouldn't be songs that throw the kitchen sink at you on any other difficulty setting.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock features an all new redesigned guitar that will be making you trade in your old guitars. This time around, every version is wireless except for the PlayStation 2. For the Wii, you stick in your Wiimote inside the guitar and rock away. The 360 guitar is even more incredible because it functions as an actual Xbox 360 controller out of the box. However, the PlayStation 3 gets the worst of all three wireless guitars with a USB dongle that you have to plug in and hope it syncs right. I had great difficulty in getting it to perform in each play setting. It also should be noted that every Guitar Hero III box I have tried has suffered for Duracell batteries that didn't make it through more than a couple of play settings. Even the cheap batteries that have been included in other types of devices have worked much better. Perhaps this is just a faulty batch of Duracell batteries though.
Legends of Rock features the same great list of features as in past title--including online play. But a new wrinkle to the formula has been added. While playing through the Career Mode, players will get the chance to duel against "Legends of Rock" as you compete to see who is a better guitarist. I must admit when I first heard about this feature, I laughed at the idea and thought the mere mention of a boss battle in a Guitar Hero game was one of the dumbest things I have ever heard of. That combined with the fact that the original developer left to make their own game (Rock Band) and the Tony Hawk/Gun Developer Neversoft was now the studio responsible for GH3 left me giggling to myself that Activision was going to ruin a once great franchise. So regardless of any feelings I had going into the final review build, I was blown away with how much more I enjoy the guitar playing in Guitar Hero III than I do in any other GH title or even Rock Band. Yes, I like the play style in Guitar Hero III more. In defense of Rock Band, we have a full review coming soon that will dive into this topic a bit more.
The song list in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is very solid and features a ton of great songs to rock out to from all different decades. As you gather points by playing through the single player campaign mode, you can even purchase indie songs and download new releases via Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. The only downside to the Downloadable Content (DLC) in GH3 is that you are forced to buy bundles of songs instead of single tracks. This is one area I hope Activision changes. Since there have only been two sets of DLC to buy as of this review, they have plenty of time to give players more choices in buying new tracks. But there are plenty of tracks to keep you busy and you will find that the speed of the guitar play will keep honing your skills as you try to gather enough courage to tackle the Expert Mode.
If you are a fan of music, ever dreamed of playing a guitar in front of masses of people, or just love the old Guitar Hero games, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is a must buy. While the game isn't revolutionary, it improves the formula of the prior titles and gives us plenty of content to keep our fingers busy happily through many weeks and months of play time. I highly recommend this title for any platform you own.