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Jun 17, 2009

Review: Guitar Hero Metallica

Guitar Hero: Metallica
Activision, Neversoft
Available for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Playstation 2.

Guitar Hero: Metallica is the second attempt for Activision into a band specific Guitar Hero, and the first using the World Tour design. What does that mean for gamers? Well, the biggest thing is being able to play all four instruments. Players can now sing as James Hetfield, play lead guitar as Kirk Hammett, be the bassist Robert Trujillo or go for the ultimate punishment and play as drummer Lars Ulrich. Read on to see if Metallica was worthy of their own GH game.

If you play Career modem, it starts you off immediately with a cut scene of Metallica walking out before the game has you play “For Whom the Bell Tolls” followed by the encore of “The Unforgiven.” It’s after this you can create your own character and actually start the story, which once again involves Lou. One problem I had with creating my character was that even after creating it, you don’t play all songs as who you make. If you play a Metallica song, you play as a group. That’s nice, but I don’t feel like I’m connecting to my custom-made character like I did in past music games.

Activision also brought back the old set list mode from GH II and III, instead of how World Tour was with the already made lists. After playing to get the certain amount of stars needed, new venues open up with brand new songs. The stars also give you new items as you advance, such as instruments and clothes. After beating a song, extras also open up about the songs, including videos, lyrics, song information and sometimes Metallifacts. Metallifacts are just the band performing the song picked, but with bits of information popping up while watching them (think Pop-Up Video from VH1).

In multiplayer, each band member now has an individual pass/fail meter on the song, but players don’t fail out. If one hits the red, the overall band meter just drains extremely fast. While this is nice to see who’s to blame, just having a member fail out and then saving them still is a nice feature GH hasn’t implemented. On a quick Battle Mode side note, the attack power-ups return, but are all Metallica themed, like “Ride the Lightning” or “Fade to Black.”

Guitar/ Bass: Everything from World Tour is still seen here, including the two note types introduced there. Actually, the new note types make some of the songs easier like Metallica’s “One”. During the fast solo, not having to strum to play the notes made it a lot easier for me than it was in GH III. The difficulty is progressive, so not all Metallica songs are insanely difficult on hard or expert, but the songs that are played towards the end of the Career mode are significantly harder than those at the beginning.

Microphone: Not much is different about the mic from World Tour either. The one thing I did notice, that I don’t believe was in World Tour, was the ability to gather star power constantly while singing. As long as the star power isn’t currently activated, whenever a phrase is song correctly you will build star power. To balance the amount gained, however, you have to sign more phrases to get the same amount of star power a guitarist would get after two star power phrases.

Drums: This is the instrument that received the most changes, one to make it the easiest instrument and one the hardest. By entering a code, players can get an Always Drum Fill mode. In this, as long as the drummer is hitting something during the song, they will get points. This is great for new GH players, or for veterans who just want to mess around.

The graphics in this game are great, but with Metallica being a real heavy metal band I almost feel like the character design should have been better rendered to look exactly like them. However, keeping with the Guitar Hero style, the group still looks great. A lot of their quirks on stage are also captured really well. The backgrounds are also detailed for the game. The venues are based off of previous locations that Metallica has played at and they were replicated quite well.

Obviously, the sound is amazing here as the game is full of master track and some songs were even rerecorded just for this game. I thought the overall list of Metallica’s songs were great with a wonderful mix of new and old songs. I wasn’t a big fan of the guest acts picked by Metallica though as most of the bands were just a bit too hardcore metal for my taste. While some of the extra songs were great like Foo Fighter and Queen, a lot of the choices were head-banging metal that only hardcore Metallica fans would probably like.

Overall, while I enjoyed playing this game I think Guitar Hero Metallica is only suited for hardcore fans and the regular Guitar Hero fan would have been much happier buying Metallica’s music via downloads online. I’ll recommend it but only to Metallica fans like me.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Buy it!

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