Guitar Hero III hits all the right notes

By Gus Bode

“Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock”

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Neversoft Entertainment


Platforms: Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii

ESRB rating: Teen

Release Date: Oct. 28, 2007

For those with rock star ambitions and the need for guitar glory, video game companies Activision and Neversoft have sent a clear message with their newest endeavor: Get ready to shred.

The guitar gods have smiled on gamers once again with the release of the highly anticipated “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.” The triumphant installment of the series represents the best yet, containing more than 70 songs, and a great time for anyone who has ever wanted to pick up a guitar and start wailing.

For those who have yet to rock out, the latest version of the popular rhythm game features the same in-game system as its counterparts. The game has several different difficulty levels ranging from easy to expert, which gives everyone a chance to shred, no matter the skill. Players must strum along to rock songs from all eras on their guitar-shaped controller while hitting the correct color-coded fret displayed on-screen. The result is a raucously fun mini-concert fit for dorm rooms and living rooms everywhere.

The original “Guitar Hero,” released in 2005, as well as sequels “Guitar Hero II,” which hit shelves in 2006, and “Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ’80s,” released earlier this year, were developed by Harmonix. The company departed the latest “Hero” project to develop the upcoming rhythm game “Rock Band.” Though the exit left some speculating whether this installment would be as good as those in the past, gamers rest assured, it rocks, especially the soundtrack.


Classic hits, such as “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, are thrown together with modern songs from Rage Against the Machine, Pearl Jam and Metallica among others creating a stellar soundtrack. The original artists perform more than half the songs, a feat for a game that more often than not had covers of popular songs.

The best addition to the series is the element of boss battles. While former “Guitar Hero” games only required players to finish songs in order to win, now gamers are required to slay guitar gods on their journey to the top. Bosses, such as Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and The Nightwatchman, or Slash, formerly of Guns N’ Roses and now a part of Velvet Revolver, join the fray challenging players to a guitar battle.

Players must perform original works composed by the bosses, and in certain note sequences will pick up attacks they can use while playing. Some attacks cause the boss’ amps to overload or strings to break, which can only be remedied by mashing whichever fret was affected until the broken string is repaired.

But the goal is not just to finish the song. Players must keep attacking the boss until he fails, and only then will they win the battle.

There’s nothing quite like watching Slash put his head into his hands on stage in shame and then offer to play an encore with you.

“Guitar Hero III” also allows its players to go into a two-player, co-operative career mode. The co-op mode has a tweaked list of songs just a bit different from one-player mode and has some exclusive tracks that have lead guitar and bass or rhythm guitar lines.

The game also contains a hint of a plot, showing animated characters traveling on the road to rocking glory and dealing with stereotypical troubles, such as bands breaking up, selling out and making a music video.

The graphics haven’t changed much over the years, just texture tweaks here and there on characters and more elaborate backgrounds. Now the backup band is in sync with the music and the lead singer mouths the song. The in-game rock meters that keep track of players’ progress are a little bit sleeker, but no better or worse than past graphics. The game also tracks correct-note streaks and displays a tally throughout the song.

The only real detriment is the difficulty levels appear to have been revamped, as sometimes medium is way too easy and sometimes hard has players’ fingers worn to nubbins as they attempt to keep up. But it gives a challenge to those who have been playing for a while and makes a comfortable environment to begin rocking.

Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 also have the benefit of song downloads. Those systems, along with the Wii, have the ability to play others online. Those with the Playstation 2 are unfortunately left incompatible with online play.

Nary a game on the market has quite the charm or appeal of a game that taps into the seemingly universal urge to be in front of thousands of screaming fans while rocking out with all your heart. Not only does “Guitar Hero III” deliver on the dream, but it does it the best out of the whole series.

Alicia Wade can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].