Review: The only way Axl Rose will be able to play with Slash again.
Guitar Hero recently went through a band breakup that was more dramatic than an episode of Behind the Music. RedOctane, owners of the Guitar Hero brand and the brains behind the guitar-shaped controller, was bought by Activision. Harmonix, the programming maestro behind the game software, was subsequently bought by MTV. While Harmonix and MTV collaborated with Electronic Arts to produce the expanded musical act Rock Band, RedOctane and Activision rallied behind a new Guitar Hero maestro, Tony Hawk-developer Neversoft. Despite the fact that all of the members of the video game music genre were playing musical chairs, Guitar Hero's basic rhythm game formula remains unaffected in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.
What has changed only serves to make Guitar Hero III the best way to shred on a virtual axe. In fact, the axe is the first significant improvement players will notice as the guitar is now wireless. The uncorded Gibson Les Paul guitar controller that comes with the game is also packed with a USB dongle that plugs into the PS3. This little unexpected extra means the guitar, while wireless, doesn't use the system's built-in Bluetooth and can't turn the console on like a normal wireless SixAxis controller. To make up for this inconvenient and obtrusive receiver hanging off of your PS3, RedOctane stylishly shaped it like a guitar pick. And Bluetooth or no Bluetooth, the freedom to rock out while being free from wires is liberating, to say the least.
Being untethered in Guitar Hero III is the first thing that players will notice about the new game; the selection of more than 70 songs is the next. Now most of the tracks are masters, with only a few that are cover versions. You'll still hear some noticeable imitations: ZZ Top's ?La Grange,? Stevie Ray Vaughn's ?Pride and Joy,? and Charlie Daniels Band's ?The Devil Went Down to Georgia.? However, many big name groups offered up their originals, too, notably: The Rolling Stones' ?Paint it Black? Guns N' Roses' ?Welcome to the Jungle,? and even digital-rights conscious Metallica's ?One.?
After you complete the game's 70-song setlist and then finally nail career mode's insanely-difficult closer, ?Through the Fire and Flames? by DragonForce, the rock in Legends of Rock lives on through downloadable song packs and single tracks. A trio of songs costs $6.25 from bands like the Foo Fighters and Velvet Revolver, while the few individual singles out there run $2.49 a piece. In the future, more downloads will be available, including a classic rock track pack from Journey, Boston and Foreigner in case you didn't get your 80s fix from Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s.
In addition to playing the songs of your favorite rock legends, Guitar Hero III allows you to battle against them as Rock N' Roll bosses. You'll duel with Slash of Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave and Lou the Devil of umm?Hell. Lou the Devil actually stands in for Charlie Daniels, as you square off playing ?The Devil Went Down to Georgia.? Besides hitting the right notes against each of these guitar icons, it's important to look out for another new gameplay function, weapons. With attacks like Lefty Flip, Broken String, Difficulty up, and Amp Overload to name a few, Battle Power replaces Star Power as you collect attack icons from certain notes. Though the attacks are temporary, they're an enjoyable and effective new way to defeat your opponent.
The chaos-filled fun of Battle Power carries over to the game's multiplayer and debut online mode, where you face off against a human opponent or a networked one. The rest of the online interface is pretty simple with co-op, battle, face-off and pro face-off game types. But, it lacks a career co-op mode, which is only available offline. The PS3 version of Guitar Hero III is further dented by the fact that it doesn't incorporate your friends list or include the satisfying Achievements of the Xbox 360 version.