Guitar Hero III Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii
Guitar Hero III box art
System: X360, PS2, PS3, Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: NeverSoft 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Red Octane, Activision 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 28, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Where Guitar Chops and Hair Twirls Abound
by Nathan Meunier

Since the release of the original Guitar Hero, Nintendo purists have been grievously slighted as they've had to suffer through two long years without the awesome power of console rock. It seems appropriate that Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock - the first game in the series to reach a Nintendo System - is hands-down the best Guitar Hero yet in many ways. Though the Wii version of Legends of Rock might be the weakest of the three, and that's only by a very meager measure, it's a small price to pay for those who've resisted the temptation to purchase a PS2 or Xbox 360 solely in order to experience the enigmatic rock addiction which is Guitar Hero. Rise ye Nintendo faithful…thy time to rock has come.

Guitar Hero III screenshot

For those who are new to the franchise, the underlying gameplay concept of Guitar Hero is really a stroke of genius. Wielding a special guitar controller, which features a strum pad and five different colored fret keys, you'll play along to songs by nailing a stream of rapidly approaching notes on-screen. A meter tracks your accuracy and gauges the crowd response. If you hit the notes on-target you'll go on to open up new songs and receive cash to unlock additional bonus tunes and other goodies. Play lousy and you'll be booed off the stage. The appeal, of course, is you don't have to be an awesome guitarist to be able to rock out. It's also just about the coolest damn thing aside from actually playing in a band.

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The slick Les Paul style controller for the Wii is slightly different from the other systems. This time around all of the guitar controllers are wireless, but the Nintendo version utilizes the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote. The remote is actually slid right into the backside of the Les Paul's body where it plugs in and is visible through the front faceplate. Messing up is more realistic as now when you hit wrong notes the sound will come right from the guitar via the remote's internal speaker instead of the TV. A few extra buttons on the Les Paul also allow you to navigate menus and boot the game without removing the Wii Remote. The fret board of the guitar controller locks into the body, but it can be easily separated by hitting a lever on the backside in order to break it down for storage or travel. The small amount of extra weight due to the Wii Remote gives the guitar controller slightly more heft which is great for doing guitar chops and executing other fun acrobatics in mid-song - if you feel so inclined. Standing-up is practically a necessity with Guitar Hero, and it's pretty hard to remain still while playing.

Guitar Hero III screenshot

You'll be chugging the strum controls, running your fingers up and down the colored fret keys, and hammering the whammy bar like an unholy rock demon while shredding to some truly epic tracks. While cover tunes made up much of the track lists for earlier games in the series, about two-thirds of the 71 tracks in Legends of Rock are the original recordings. In career mode, the basic main set list is made up of 42 songs -a few other new tracks which can be unlocked in co-op career mode - and 25 additional songs can be purchased and unlocked with your gig money as bonus tracks. Some of the bonus tracks are decent, others are lame, but the main set list is where it's at with something for all tastes. The order in which songs are played is a bit crappy, but the track list is simply awesome. There's a smattering of classic rock tracks from Kiss, Scorpions, Foghat, and Cream, to name few. In the mid-range of punk and alternative rock you'll find Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Weezer, and others. There are also some seriously intense old school and newer metal tracks to round it all out as well as a bunch of other great material that falls somewhere in between. It's virtually impossible not to do faux hair twirls to Slayer's "Raining Blood" or Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast."

The most amazingly badass and brutally difficult track in the entire game will be a major sore point to those who cannot survive its might and a source of bragging rights to those who've painfully bent their mortal frames to master its hellish difficulty. DragonForce's power metal epic "Through the Fire and Flames" is included as a bonus track which is thankfully unlocked after beating the main game instead of making it into the main set list. At over seven minutes in length, with almost two-thirds of the song being comprised of non-stop breakneck speed solos, the tune raises the technical difficulty bar higher than any other track ever featured on Guitar Hero. It's nearly impossible to make it through on medium difficulty, let alone on hard or, heaven forbid, expert settings. You'll love it for its awe inspiring power metal epicness, yet it will break your fingers trying to make it through.

Guitar Hero III screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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