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October 29, 2007
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Review
 

By Nicole Hamlett

I WANNA ROCK!

ROCK!

If you don’t know that song then you’re entirely too young to be reading this review. Actually… put down that new wireless guitar and pack up the box because you shouldn’t be playing this game either. I said put it away!

Now that that bit of drama is over and I do sincerely apologize, I’m in Rock Star Diva mode, let’s get on with this review. At 9:00 AM MST this morning I awoke to a beautiful thought. Today, my local Best Buy would have Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock on the shelves. I dug through my closet and pulled out my old ACDC Back in Black concert shirt, the holiest jeans that I own and teased my hair up a bit before getting into my soccer mom SUV to drive the twenty minutes to the nearest outlet.
 
Since the store doesn’t open 'til 10:00 AM, there weren’t many loiterers about. As I chose my 360 version I saw a few appreciative nods; even a flash of the rockin’ horns. I walked to the register with pride, rejected the offer of a new credit card and was off like a rocket. I needed to get this baby home. I gently caressed the box with visions of Barracuda and Rock You Like Hurricane dancing in my head. Faster than you can say Welcome to the Jungle, the new axe was out of the box, assembled and plugged in waiting for me to get down to business.

My “band” wandered in and asked if they could play too. I jealously covered my new guitar and muttered, “You can use the crappy one.” Rather than entering into single career mode, I chose the new and improved multi-player co-op.

“Sweeeeet!” My band member exclaimed in his high pitched pre-puberty voice. “Could I get some strawberry milk before we start?”

GAH! My band mates aren’t supposed to drink milk? We’re supposed to be doing Jack shots and uh... eating chicken sandwiches! With my new wireless guitar strapped around my body, I stepped into the kitchen, poured him a glass of milk and got back to the TV before I realized how good I had it. WIRELESS! I am no longer chained to the six feet of wire that the “crappy” controller forced upon me. After being assured that it was cool to start, I fired that baby up.

The first song was a classic. Barracuda (as performed by Heart) strummed up and I put myself in Nancy’s shoes as the music flowed. The new controller has a great weight to it, and the buttons have gotten larger with a better spring to them. However, it seems that they may be a bit further apart. This is not easy on the smallish hands.

CURSE MY SMALLISH HANDS! The neck seems to be a bit thicker than the old 360 controller as well. The fret is also wider for comfort. All around big improvements happened to this piece of hardware. If anything, the buttons should be a touch closer together. While my pinky finger sits nicely on the blue button, there is no way in Black Sabbath that I’m going to hit the orange any time soon.

Stickers are still included with the new guitar; however, there are new faceplates that can be purchased separately for that truly metal look. I like my stickers so I’ll be keeping them, but if you don’t like the black Gibson Les Paul look, you have other options.
 
In essence, I like the cleaner 3d models and the interface hasn’t changed so much that it’s too different. A note counter has been added and there are flashes of achievements on the screen as you ...uh… achieve them. Light bulbs are representing Star Power now rather than the single blue flow line that was in GH2. While the timing is the same for powering down, it SEEMS like it’s a bit longer with the different bulbs. More is better!

Back to co-op career – The interface has changed as well as the character look and they got rid of my Pandora. Let’s have a moment of silence for the blue eyed, blue haired girl that gave me so many hours of fun. Also a piece of trivia, Brett Michaels, formerly of Poison, did the live action for the singer’s animation. There is also a bonus track that you can purchase from the in game store by him if you so choose or have the $$.

As you choose your guitars and characters, you will notice a new star in the lineup. Midori is the rocker and she’s very Japanese pop. I missed my Pandora but she will do for now. The co-op mode is basically the same, except that you can choose career mode and unlock the songs together.

One thing that I was disappointed to find lacking as the individual scores that were on GH2. I like to know how well I did, compared to my partner. I suppose that a band shouldn’t quibble about who’s better than who and maybe it’s the reason some bands break up, but I’m competitive. I want to know.

We only completed three sets because my band-mates fingers got tired. He may not be asked back for a reunion tour. However, all was not lost! My Guitar Hero nemesis was available for a little online multiplayer action. New to the franchise, rockers can hook up over their Xbox Live accounts to play together or against one another. Having already played three sets, I was assured an easy victory. Not so, as she flung wave after wave of attacks at me, I was defeated soundly. It’s just wrong that she beat me using the lefty attack and I’m bloody left handed. She will NOT be invited into my band…ever…

I decided on a solo career and took my show on the road. I was happy to see that the sets for single player are not the same as multi-player mode. I started off with Slow Ride and then went on to Ace, Talk Dirty to Me. The songs seem longer. Maybe, it’s because I can actually count how many notes I’m playing in the song.

Once I hit 300, I thought to myself, I better get a five star on this baby. It certainly adds a level of anxiety to the play. Before, it was a matter of blindly playing until the end and guessing whether or not you had missed one or two notes. Now, you have that count right in front of you. The mantra, “Don’t mess this up Nicole… don’t F it up!” started ringing through my head as soon as I saw the 250 notes played flash across the screen. I probably could have aced the song but I psyched myself out.

A difference from the previous iteration is that you make money on the easy level and you also get encore songs. With that said, the biggest change is Rock Star battles. My first battle against Rage Against the Machine legend, Tom Morello, was insanely easy. That was not the case when I battled against Slash. He fought back. The bosses get harder as you complete more sets. There are also more master tracks in this version of the game and I’ve noticed that a lot more of the songs could be considered classic rock. Regardless it’s a good time.

So, gear up your metal shirts and make sure you have some Mineral Ice for the digits because you’re going to be playing this baby all day when you buy it. As I type my poor fingers are screaming out in agony. Must…go…get…ice…

I’m giving Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock a 9 out 10 because it’s just that freakin’ fun. It would have gotten a 10 but those buttons; they’re still too far apart.

For more information on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock visit http://guitarherogame.com

 
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