Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn, Posted on 2007-11-08


Developer: Neversoft Publisher: Activision
Release Date: October 28, 2007 Also On: PC, PS2, PS3, Wii & Xbox 360

Not very many of us can say we have been rock stars, but a surprising percentage of the population can claim that they have felt like one. RedOctane's Guitar Hero franchise has kept us strumming and slamming whammy bars for the last two years. This is a feeling that has not really been captured elsewhere in gaming history, and critics and consumers agreed. This year's Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is technically the third Guitar Hero release of 2007; Rock The 80's came out on the PS2 and Guitar Hero II made its next-generation debut on the Xbox 360. Where does that leave Guitar Hero III?

Neversoft picked up the rights to Guitar Hero from Harmonix, who was busy with Rock Band ambitions. They rebuilt the game from the ground up, and it is actually not very surprising. Career and Xbox Live modes are absolutely loaded; Neversoft compiled 48 songs that make up the tour and several different multiplayer modes to rock them in. Also, RedOctane gave us a new controller--a wireless recreation of the Gibson Les Paul--and it is wonderful indeed. Using the new guitar makes playing the game feel better, and wireless interference occurs on a rare-to-never basis. You can play through the Career with a friend in a Co-Op Career mode, Face-Off (alternate same song's notes), Pro Face-Off (play same song entirely), and Battle (use battle attacks, more details later). Guitar Hero III is a little bit easier to play in terms of hitting notes and performing hammer-ons and pull-offs, but the songs themselves are harder. "Raining Blood" (Slayer) will provide one of the toughest challenges on any difficulty, but three of the more entertaining (and challenging) parts of Guitar Hero III are boss battles against Tom Morello, Slash, and the Devil scattered throughout the Career.

The Career boss battles will most likely be the player's introduction to Battle mode. In Battle mode, players alternate and sometimes take turn simultaneously playing notes from a difficult track made exclusively for Guitar Hero III. To win, players have to try and force each other to fail. This is made a little easier with power-ups. Hitting certain marked note combos throughout the song will activate the new power-ups. The power-ups can be used in the same manner that Star Power is activated in a normal song; once a power-up is used its effect will devastate or at least annoy the crap out of its victim. You'll really want to avoid Double Notes, where chords replace the notes of every single note and add an entire fret to normal chords. The Difficulty Up one is also a pain if you are already playing on Expert or Hard; this power up is self-explanatory in its purpose. Also, one of the most annoying power-ups is the Whammy Bar jam, where the victim's whammy bar gets messed up and he or she has to quickly flick it up and down to repair it before more notes can be played. Battle mode is fun because it makes hitting those tricky note combos very important, but also requires players to play well and be on their toes, ready for notes to change or multiply at any moment. I thought Neversoft made a great mode here, although in the Campaign battles it quickly becomes a matter of stacking power-ups and then using multiple ones at once to force your opponent into failing.

There is a new flair to the rock star we have loved for the last two years, but I hope I'm not the only one who noticed a limp, too. The presentation of Guitar Hero has been "cranked up to 11", as the game itself would claim—expect better graphics than ever before. Flashier stages, better band member models, fancier note and Star Power effects, and great lip-synch are all components of a better visual production. The sound is also tremendously improved: songs sound a lot better due to most of them being master versions, but I also noticed that it seemed they were louder and more exciting than usual. Perhaps this was just part of the typical Guitar Hero rush.

About the limp, let's be honest: Guitar Hero hasn't changed much. Guitar Hero III keeps the same "three song, an encore, and new songs" Career structure. Achievements make playing the game a lot a rewarding affair, as if feeling like a badass every day was not already rewarding. Even so, I have a feeling that although Guitar Hero III seems to be the franchise's media climax so far, it is also the one that might have some gamer rockers realizing their love for Guitar Hero is joined by a feeling of desire for something fresh. Then again, I might be the only one that feels that way.

Do not get me wrong: the first time I stood there before my television, post-loading screen as "Welcome to the Jungle" was indicated at the top-left of the screen, there was a rush that could not be felt by another non-Guitar Hero experience. The ending of the Career, although most of it before is stale, is as epic as "epic" can get. If you have not gotten sick of Guitar Hero, and do not plan on it anytime soon, you will disagree with my claims of its thrills growing stale. If you have seen the same grey hairs as I have, you will be hoping for a little bit of a change in the next game.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9
Written by Cliff Review Guide

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn