By Nicole Hamlett
I WANNA 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
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
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