'Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock'
(PS2 / ASIN: B000TGB4V4 / Rated: T / $49.99)
Features: More than 70 of the most legendary rock anthems of all-time. Added multiplayer modes: arcade inspired Guitar Battle and the dual shredding co-op career. Challenge the legends of rock and roll in boss battles. Take those axe shredding skills online and rock around the world. All-new tricked out venues taking you to hell and back .
Description: The third game from the Guitar Hero series is here, and ready to rock your face off. Channel your inner guitar god as you thrash your way through all sorts of venues, from hole-in-the-wall bars to sold-out stadiums. In addition to standard Guitar Hero features you know and adore, this game features all kinds of killer new options, such as the new multiplayer action-inspired battle mode, grueling boss battles, a bevy of exclusive unlockable content and authentic rock venues.
Plus, the expanded online multiplayer game modes will also allow axe-shredders worldwide to compete head-to-head for true legendary rock status. Best part, of course? The new songs! Fresh downloadable content will be offered on multiple platforms, and players can now shred to a set list from many of the greatest rock songs ever recorded.
Verdict: After the relatively weak showing from the spin-off Rocks the 80's venture, its nice to get back to the fundamentals of Guitar Hero with a welcome evolutionary step for the series. Now in the hands of the developers from Neversoft, it was quite rewarding to see that they didn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, but stuck with much of the gameplay format that has already worked and cemented Guitar Hero as one of the most successful series of titles in recent gaming history.
Let me get my mild peeves about GHIII:Legends of Rock out of the way first so I can work to laud its many accomplishments, something people seem to be neglecting in their reviews. Unlockables are a bit of a mixed bag: extra characters range from ridiculous to phenomenal. The new guitars are pretty cool, but nothing remarkable really. The bonus songs on the whole still consist of mostly underground material...being the 4th title in the series, it doesn't fit that they'd have to tap the tracks of relatively unknown C & D List bands.
Maybe that's because the better portion of B Listers made it into the actual game set list; unlike the first two entries, where the tracklist was abundantly solid with a plethora of easily recognizable tunes, GHIII varies very sharply here. The main setlist ranges from incredible anthems of hard and classic rock history to highly dubious entries from the last several years or so.
But enough whining; let us focus on the positives of that setlist, because when it flexes its muscle it is VERY impressive, with such monstrous heavy hitters as Living Colour's "Cult of Personality", Black Sabbath's "Paranoid", Pearl Jam's "Even Flow", Carlos Santana's "Black Magic Woman", ZZ Top's "La Grange", and a finishing set that includes a Trident of Metal Divinity: Slayer, Iron Maiden, and some band called Metallica, playing this song called "One", its not too shabby, they might become successful off of it. Sarcasm aside, finally getting to play Metallica, to immerse yourself in one of the definitive compositions of the premier metal ambassadors of the last 3 decades marks an arrival to the Guitar Hero universe that has been heavily anticipated since the series took off.
GHI had the face off mode, GHII brought about the much needed Co-Op mode, what can GHIII offer to multiplaying enjoyment? How about a wicked little BATTLE mode? I know a lot of people overlook this mode with a shrug, but I think its great. I'm a gamer first, metal lover second, so attention to making innovating gameplay goes far with me, and I like this addition quite a bit. It smacks of one of my favorite titles of yesteryear, Super Mario Kart, and it provides a means of upping the dueling potential of Guitar Hero immensely.
But wait folks, that's not all! Who doth adorn the cover of this latest GH masterpiece? Hard Rock Guitar Shredding Icon of the 80's and 90's and current axe grinder with revival rock super group Velvet Revolver, Its SLASH! Both Slash and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello come to challenge you upstarts, armed with completely original compositions to tackle in this all new battle mode. Show them your worth by causing them to flounder, and they'll not only jam with you on some of their most recognized tracks (Welcome to the Jungle and Bulls on Parade respectively), you'll be able to purchase them as extra characters.
A note on the challenge level....I myself am an average GH player. I hold it down strong on Medium level, 5 starring most tracks with ease, but I can't seem to make the jump to that cursed orange button on Hard, so I leave it alone. These are certainly the most challenging medium tracks I've played since Cowboys from Hell and Bark at the Moon, the type of challenge that keeps you coming back for more. I'm glad they raised the bar enough to put me to work.
Finally, all due apologies to the whiny punks out there, but the finale to Guitar Hero III is easily the greatest one to date. Not only is the final battle an unexpected delight, its very well DONE, and then the closing credits.....well, you'll see, but they rule.
So, the verdict for Guitar Hero III is as follows: on par with the first entry, slightly less impressive than the paragon of Guitar Hero II, and a wonderful retribution from the negligible Rocks the 80's debacle. Sure it's not without certain flaws, but its definitely a rockin' ride no Guitar Hero should miss!
Reviewed by Kamo Stevenson