The third game in the Guitar Hero franchise, and the second on the Xbox 360 in as many years, finally brings all the elements that fans have been clamoring for to the table. From the wireless Gibson replica guitar to online gameplay (both co-op and head-to-head are included) to the new inclusion of songs by their original artists, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock has really made great strides to give fans exactly what they’ve been wanting all along. All of this and the game switched developers to boot.
While Guitar Hero III maintains that familiar look the graphics have been beefed up a bit. The lip syncing animations have been enhanced as have the overall character animations, so now they look like they’re really getting into their rock performances. The graphics have been improved and there’s a lot going on at any given time, though you really won’t notice it unless you’re not playing or are in the middle of a long pause. Still, while graphics may not be of the utmost importance in Guitar Hero III for the player it is a bonus to have something nice like this to look at for anyone watching.
The real focus of Guitar Hero III is of course in the music. Having a soundtrack with as many songs as it does is a plus, but the real improvement from this game over the last is the inclusion of the original recordings. Not every song included is by the original artist or group, but a good majority of them are and it only makes this game rock that much harder. No longer do all the tracks sound like they came from a karaoke CD. Now they sound like they might on the radio. This helps add to the validity of the game as well as the downloadable content which they plan to feature heavily for the foreseeable future.
As far as the gameplay is concerned most of what you liked about the previous versions is back. However, there are a few notable exceptions in the various game modes offered, with online multiplayer being one and the inclusion of boss battles being the other. With online multiplayer you can choose to play cooperatively with a friend or battle against a friend in any of the games vast songs. Luckily the developers left you many options so you don’t have to worry about getting boat-raced by someone who has mastered the game on expert while you’re still stuck on pedestrian by comparison, medium difficulty. Choose via the option menu to compete only against other gamers at your own level, so that you stand a fighting chance.
The boss battle is completely different. There are three boss battles in the game, in which you compete against a famous guitarist. In the battles you play small snippets of a song turn by turn like any normal head to head mode, but then you’ve the added conditions of being able to use special powers on the boss. Those powers could be double the amount of notes, a stuck whammy bar, or even a surge on your power amp. All of these contribute to not allowing the boss to play their portion of notes and you’ll need to use them strategically in order to beat them, especially in the higher difficulties.Judging by all the extras included in Guitar Hero III like songs from other parts of the world and downloadable songs and other promised content, Activision and Neversoft want to make this one of the best games on the Xbox 360 in terms of replay value. They’ve done a great job with just what’s included for those of you who still aren’t online. For those who are, you can see that the effort has been made to make this one tremendously exciting game with more replay value than any other Guitar Hero game before.
If there had to be some negative aspects to the game one would be that it’s still rather expensive for the masses. Not that price factor’s into a score, but mainly because it’s still a niche game due to its $100 MSRP. The menus aren’t the mostly friendly to navigate and getting through to the actual game requires watching a bunch of credit screens for the various people responsible for the game. Now, if they could somehow manage to drop the price of downloadable content and allow those gamers who own Guitar Hero II to load up the soundtrack from that game onto this one for one massive game, then this would be a smash hit the size of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Frequent content additions are nice, but still rather pricey considering the price of admission.
The Guitar Hero franchise has become one that has limitless potential and such broad appeal that gamers of all ages can enjoy. If they continue to improve upon it and support it with further content (some of it free would be nice) this will continue to stay in gamers 360’s for a long time. It’s still fun, but better with friends and even better at parties. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock adds more of what gamers have come to love and then some.
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