When Guitar Hero first came out, it caught many gamers off-guard, but it quickly became known that this rockin' game was here to stay. By reshaping a standard controller into a guitar and adding some of the best rock songs known to man, the Guitar Hero franchise quickly became a household name. While Guitar Hero 2 on Xbox 360 was the first iteration in the franchise to appear on a next-gen console, it was no different to its PlayStation 2 counterpart, aside from the addition of new songs. Fortunately Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock goes a step further and adds more to the game and furthers the franchise to a new level.
Guitar Hero III: Legend of Rock features a killer soundtrack.
GH3 follows the simple premise set down by the previous games of hitting the corresponding coloured note in time to the music. For those who have never played a Guitar Hero game, you may find it a bit tricky, because GH3's difficulty is geared towards existing players. Although the difficulty difference between GH2 and GH3 isn't massive, it is noticeable. In previous games, three note chords have been a rarity -- until now. Many of the songs in GH3 feature several different three notes chords, which will have you swapping back and fourth between them like a madman. Though, annoying at first, once you become familiar with the chords and when the appear in the song, you can easily ace them with a bit of practice.
The Guitar Hero series has never been known for its graphical prowess and GH3 is no different. Despite looking significantly better than previous games in the series, GH3 isn't the best looking game out there. Fortunately for GH3, graphics aren't an integral part of the experience. If you're lucky enough to own a 1080p HDTV GH3 has you covered. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of the game support 1080p, while the Wii and PS2 versions support 480p.
On the single-player side of things, GH3 introduces a very bare story in the form of brief animated cut scenes between each set of tracks. At the beginning of the game, your four band members are standing around scratching their heads wondering what to do, when they decide to perform a concert. As you progress through the game you see them play in bigger and better venues. These cut scenes feel a tad bit tacked on and don't really contribute much to the single-player experience. One of the new additions to the single-player campaign is the three Boss battles. Essentially every few set lists, the boss battle replaces the encore track. The aim of the battle is to disrupt their playing style enough that they fail the song, similar to the battle mode in multiplayer. The first two boss battles are against Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello and Velvet Revolver's Slash. Whilst we won't reveal who the third Boss battle features, we can guarantee that he is a fitting and worthy opponent.
GH3 features four different multiplayer modes -- Face-Off, Pro Face-Off, Co-Op and Battle. Both Face-Off and Pro Face-Off haven't changed a bit since Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The main difference between face-off and Pro Face-Off, is that in Pro Face-Off you play the whole song. Whereas, in Face-Off you only play sections of the song. Co-Op sees two players working together to complete the song, one taking lead, while the other takes bass. Unlike previous games in the franchise, GH3 also features a Co-Op Career mode which you need to play through in order to unlock certain tracks, like the excellent track Sabotage by The Beastie Boys
Slash is a mean boss to defeat.
Battle mode is where things start to get interesting, because unlike the two Face-Off modes, Battle allows you to disrupt your opponent. A few of the different ways to throw your opponent off key include, lefty flip -- which flips the note colour order backwards and snap a string which breaks the sting on your opposition's guitar, forcing them to hit it repeatedly to return it to normal. As fun as it is, it just doesn't feel like it's a fair measurement of skill between the two players, subsequently you will find yourself coming back to Pro Face-Off for all your competitive multiplayer needs.
If you're feeling particularly game, or want to show off your musical ability to people on the Internet, GH3 has online support for Xbox 360, PlayStation3, and Wii. The online component of the game features the exact same set-up that can be found in offline multiplayer. Luckily, we found that there was little lag when playing over Xbox Live. The Xbox version also allows you to use the wireless headset to taunt your opponent.
If you're a fan of past Guitar Hero games then Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is a must own. If you're not, then it is definitely worth checking out, if nothing else just to see what it's all about. The new additions that can be found in the game make it easily the best game in the series and the best music game out there at the moment.