|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Neversoft Ent.||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 29, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
March 13, 2009 - Where's the Metallica? This has been a consistent question asked every time a Guitar Hero (GH) game has been released. The first two titles were actually completely devoid of tracks from the historic and influential metal band. Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: World Tour seemingly got the ball rolling, each containing a single track from the band to whet fans' appetites. When their entire new Death Magnetic album was announced as downloadable content, playable in both GH III and GH: World Tour, it was hard to imagine or hope for a larger compilation of Metallica tunes in playable form.
Thankfully, Metallica fans will finally have a chance to uncross their fingers, as Guitar Hero: Metallica will be hitting store shelves near the end of March. In a recent preview event hosted by Activision, we had the chance to get our hands on the game, so read on for our impressions.
Much like the first band-centric GH title Guitar Hero: Aerosmith before it, GH: Metallica will contain a mix of music pulled directly from the band's own lengthy career as well as a helping of tracks from other bands. These other tracks will be comprised of songs from bands that have inspired, have been inspired by, or are just plain liked by Metallica. While the same was true for GH: Aerosmith, GH: Metallica will actually do a much better job of explaining why these other songs are present. It will do so with one of the interesting new features in GH: Metallica which is simply called Metallifacts.
Once you've completed a song in the game's career mode, you will unlock the Metallifacts version of it. This will allow you to hit play, sit back, and enjoy the performance as you watch the song being played as though you were watching a concert. While this will allow players to appreciate all of the accurate motion capture and cinematic flair that's been put into the title, it will also supply fans with interesting facts about all of the music, bands, and stories involved in the game's content. During these performances this information will continue to pop up at the bottom of the screen, adequately preparing all comers for future victories in the yet to be created Trivial Pursuit Metallica edition. Of course, there are plenty of other unlockables that will also help fans brush up on their Metallica knowledge such as videos of past performances, making of videos that show band members doing motion capture for the game, lyric sheets, and even photos.
GH Metallica is certainly not short on fan service, nor does it lack attention to detail. As previously mentioned, the motion capturing provided by the band makes for very authentic-looking performances. A particularly nice touch that I noticed had James Hetfield appropriately singing with one eye open during "Enter Sandman." The band themselves also look very accurate and fairly realistic, not looking anywhere near as cartoonish as the previous GH characters, including Aerosmith. The nature of the band and its music is only further accentuated by the gritty look provided by the grainy filter being used in the game, similar to the one found in GTA IV: The Lost and Damned expansion. Add in the great lighting effects and unfettered use of pyrotechnics and GH: Metallica looks exactly like one would expect.
Fortunately, the game not only looks as it should, it also plays exceptionally well. Skillfully making my way through many of Metallica's greatest hits is easily one of the best feelings I've ever experienced in a GH game. Nevertheless, playing through some of the longer Metallica songs on the guitar can be a somewhat bittersweet endeavor. The songs themselves play great but the combination of complexity and song length can sometimes make the most experienced GH player's arms/hands cry uncle. It's times like these that players will likely appreciate the full band experience presented in GH: Metallica.
Unlike GH: Aerosmith, GH: Metallica was released after GH: World Tour. This means that this second band-centric GH will actually allow fans to play as the entire band rather than just the guitar-based portions of it. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this comes in the form of playing the drums as Lars Ulrich. Clearly much attention has been paid to the drums in GH: Metallica, as players are given the chance to hook up a second foot pedal and brave the all new Expert + difficulty made specifically for it.
While completely unable to survive playing on this difficulty myself, I was able to check out a demonstration of how a skilled drummer could perform at this level. Let's just say that even a person who proclaimed to have already spent hundreds of hours with this game's drums and looked blurry and amazing while playing, still only managed to squeak out a seventy seven percent. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a slight against the demonstrator, it was actually quite incredible (so fast and elaborate I honestly couldn't even tell he was missing notes), just expect a Dragonforce-like challenge if you wish to take on Expert + for yourself.
Longtime fans of the band should easily find quite a bit to love in this title. Whether it's playing the drums with two foot pedals on the insane Expert + difficulty, enjoying a cinematic concert performance while brushing up on Metallica trivia, or realizing that the entire Death Magnetic DLC album they've already purchased is also playable in GH: Metallica, it's hard to see any potential downsides to the game. In fact, even if you've never touched a GH title before, the great track list as well as the impressive attention to detail found within makes GH: Metallica look like a pretty enticing package. Be sure to check back later this month to find out our final verdict when the finished game is released.
CCC Staff Contributor