By Eli Green
November 19, 2007 - 10:00
The story starts off when you answer a call for new lead guitarist. From there, you play a couple of small gigs until you get noticed by a small agent, who hooks your band up with even bigger gigs and, soon enough, a major recording label. Pretty soon, you're on your way to play venues around the world, and even get your own music video. On your way to becoming a rock god, you'll even meet major rock legends like Tom Morello, and Slash from Guns n' Roses, and face off against them in one on one battles. Of course, not all is sweet in the world of rock, as you soon find out that your manager is more sinister than he seems when your band attempts to refuse playing shows that don't make any sense.
It turns out that your manager is, in fact, the devil in disguise and is holding claim to your lives as part of your recording contract. So what can you do, but take him on and take him down in a final guitar battle, simultaneously cementing your place as a rock god.
|The Xbox 360 version box contents|
Red Octane pulled off another bang up job on the controls and interface for this game, with some minor adjustments from the control system in Guitar Hero II . You still play the game like playing a guitar – hold the fret buttons and strum on the strum bar – but the added functionality and features really add to the gameplay overall. The hammer-ons and pull-offs now have added functionality, as going from note to note (even when doing strings of long notes) is easier than ever. Plus, specifically for the Wii version, the rumble and Wii Remote speaker actually make things a little bit easier. The guitar rumbles when you're in Star Power Mode, letting you know (if you didn't notice that all of the notes turned bright blue) that you're in that mode until the rumble stops. Better yet, the “missed note” sound plays out of the Wii Remote speaker, a really nice touch. The best part about that is that if you do miss a note in a set of quick notes, you'll be able to easily differentiate between that sound and the rest of the notes that are still coming.
The high def versions look so much better
One thing I'm on the fence about is the boss battles, though I'm leaning more towards liking it. Before some of your encores, you'll have to face off against a major guitarist and beat him in a one on one guitar face-off. Each guitarist has his own set battle song which you play taking turns. In a boss battle though, Star Power becomes Battle Power, which lets you pick up different attacks to use against your opponents and mess them up. You have to get them to fail the song before the end, or they'll go into Death Drain Mode, which plunges your Rock Meter to failure without giving you any chance to fight back. Battles function well enough, but aren't really as fun as in multiplayer, which lets you play any song you want as a battle.
Multiplayer and Online Play
The franchise's best new feature, added for Guitar Hero III, is the Co-op Career Mode. Finally, friends or family can play through the entire game together, instead of one person having to open up all of the songs in single player and then getting to play co-op later on. Better yet, Red Octane made a special Co-op Career Mode storyline and threw in extra songs that are specific to that mode. In fact, one of the best set lists in the entire game is in the Co-op Career Mode.
|Tom Morello rips it up|
The online multiplayer mode is a nice new touch that also functions quite well. While online play is not new for the Xbox 360 version (which also includes the ability to download new tracks), the Red Octane team did a good job with getting the game to work on the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, for their first game with that feature. Playing on the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is essentially akin to playing offline, except that you need to set up your own online name and find people to play (which can actually be a problem). While lag and connecting once you've found someone to play are not issues, actually finding an opponent can be a bit tricky, and you'll probably have to loosen your standards as to what modes and songs you want to play. This problem is likely due to the fact that the game has been virtually sold out everywhere since it released. Once it becomes more widely available, that problem should cease to be.
Environment and Graphics
Though the main focus of the development of the Guitar Hero franchise is making sure that the gameplay functions properly (as it is the most important part), Red Octane has never skimped on the graphic quality for the environments. What does seem to be lacking in Guitar Hero III , quite unfortunately, are good graphics and animations when it comes to some of the characters.
|Xavier from the Xbox 360 version|
Much of the same can be said about the in-game environments when speaking about the differences between the different versions of the game. The difference though, between the environments and the characters, is that none of the environments in any of the versions are disappointing. Places like Shanker's Island and Mitch's Moose Lounge, while not amazingly detailed, don't look bad. They just look better in the high definition versions.
Aside from gameplay, sound is one of the most important parts of a game like this. So it's good to see that the team took the time to make Guitar Hero III sound great. The sound quality for the game is fabulous, just as it should be. Of course, that doesn't mean that everything about the sound in the game was perfect, and I'll explain what I mean in just a bit. Before I do though, I'll mention the good points.
The most important sound factor in a music game is sound quality, which I already mentioned was fabulous. The second most important sound factor in a music game would then be the music itself, and this is where Guitar Hero III really shines. I might even dare to say that this game has the best track list out of all of the games in the franchise to date. From beginning to end, the tracks are hits, like Barracuda (Heart), My Name Is Jonas (Weezer), Ruby (Kaiser Chiefs), Reptilia (The Strokes), Black Magic Woman (Santana) and so many more. A large number of the tracks are even from the original bands, not covers. That's not to say that the songs in the game that were covers were bad, though. They were also quite well done, just like in the previous games. In fact, all of the voice work done throughout each of the games in the franchise has been great, and Guitar Hero III is no exception.
Unfortunately, not all of the sound in the game was good, and there were quite a few things that needed improvement. The first issue is that of low volume. I had noticed a similar, though not as large of an issue, in the previous games. No matter how high you set the volume in the game, you still have to turn up your speakers to a louder than normal level. In Guitar Hero III for Wii, the problem is even more apparent. I normally play Wii games on my surround sound system at level 35. That is commonly a more than adequate volume level for most, if not all, games. With Guitar Hero III however, I need to raise the volume up to somewhere between levels 40 and 45 to get an adequate volume level. Every time I want to play the game I have to turn down my volume to the regular level, start the game, and then turn it back up, all to avoid blasting my ears off because I might have accidentally left the volume up from the last time I played.
The second issue actually has to do with the surround sound itself. Surround sound in the Wii version of Guitar Hero III is virtually non-existent. I say virtually because if you were to actually walk up to your rear speakers and put them to your ears while playing, you would notice some sound coming out of them from time to time. It's fine if Red Octane didn't want to include surround sound in the Wii version, but to actually kill off even the faux surround effect is just plain wrong. After playing three different versions of Guitar Hero on Playstation 2 with some kind of surround, even if it was faux surround, it just feels like something is missing when playing the Wii version.
The final problem with the sound is, thankfully, a minor one that I only noticed in a couple of songs, specifically Miss Murder (AFI) and Prayer of the Refugee (Rise Against). It seems that at one point in each of the two songs, specific sounds which are normally in the tracks get suddenly cut off as the rest of the track plays. As I said, it's a minor issue, but I did notice it.
Guitar Hero III is another great music game from Red Octane and Activision. With what is probably the best track list since, and possibly including, the original Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero III will have music lovers rocking out for hours and hours on end, both offline and online, by themselves and with friends. Even with its flaws, Guitar Hero III is still a great game, and can be enjoyed by everyone. The game's story even includes some interesting insights on some people's views of the recording industry.
Verdict: Buy It