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Guitar Hero: Metallica

Score: 95%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Budcat Creations
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4: 2 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Rhythm/ Party/ Online


Graphics & Sound:

Guitar Hero has come a long way from its first introduction to the scene. What used to support only guitar tracks now lets you play as an entire band. Guitar Hero: Metallica is the latest iteration of this wildly popular game.

The graphics in Guitar Hero: Metallica appear quite a bit evolved from where they originally started. There are even cut-scenes and a storyline to go with the game now. The characters have the same look that they always have. You'll recognize the old characters, even though they've got some new hair styles. You can unlock more characters like Lemmy from Motorhead when you play certain songs. You also have the ability to create your own character now though, which I really liked. Of course, you'll only be playing as the character you choose when you play anything other than an original Metallica song. When you play any Metallica song, you will be playing as Metallica. I've got to say they did a wonderful job making the characters look like the real members of Metallica! I didn't think James Hetfield could look more intimidating than he does in real life, but they managed to pull it off.

Given that this is a music game, the sound quality is going to be important. Personally, I do not have a surround sound system for my TV. But with just my normal TV speakers, it still sounds great. The original masters were used for all the tracks, so the sound quality is perfect. There is a good mixture of old and new Metallica songs. There are also songs from other bands like Slayer (which is very easy on vocals), Suicidal Tendencies, Motorhead, Bob Seger, Foo Fighters, Lynard Skynard, System of a Down, and more. With this many bands and songs, there's something for everyone on here.


Gameplay:

There are different methods of play in Guitar Hero: Metallica. If you just want to hop on and play, then you can choose Quickplay. But there's only a certain amount of songs unlocked until you play through the Career Mode.

So as I said before, there is a story to Guitar Hero: Metallica. In Career Mode, you are playing as 'Tallica Jr., an unknown band hoping to make it big opening for Metallica. Unfortunately, you'll have problems dealing with a rival band on the way. Yeah, I know it's not much of a story, but it does make for some funny cut-scenes. One note though, you will only be playing as your character when you are singing non-Metallica songs. When you're singing a Metallica song, you will be playing as Metallica, as I said before.

There is a very noticeable change in the way that you unlock new songs. In previous games, you would get 4 songs in a set and then an Encore. Depending on the level, you had to beat a certain number of those songs before you went on to the next set. That made for a very limiting number of songs to choose from on each set. If you got stuck on a certain song, you were stuck on that set. Now, unlocking new venues to play with requires you to get a certain amount of stars in the previous venues. There are at least 4 songs, and usually more, per venue. So you never feel like you have to play a certain song and you never get completely stuck on a particular set. I did notice that the sets aren't necessarily the same depending on what instrument you are playing, however.

For those of you who want to play against someone, but you're home alone or if you have a band and want to battle someone else, you can choose Nintendo WFC. This selection takes you to the online play where you can match up with anyone. You can choose to play against friends that you list in your roster or you can let it match you up with someone else. This makes a great way to test your skills against people around the world.


Difficulty:

I was quite impressed with the range of difficulty in Guitar Hero: Metallica. You can choose from Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert to play your Career or Quickplay on. Beginner makes it very easy to learn how to play the game without failing. The better you get, the harder level you can take on. Personally, I thought that the difficulty levels felt about the same as the previous games. So if you could play on Hard before, you should be able to play on Hard now.

To truly attempt to mimic the feel of Metallica, there is even an Expert + mode for the drums. To play on this level, you'll need 2 bass drum pedals. You can use both pedals on the other modes too if you want to get used to using both of them. I'd love to tell you what it looks like when you beat Expert +, but I wasn't able to do it. My eyes crossed just looking at all those notes!

If you're having trouble with certain pieces of a song or even an entire song, you can go play it in Practice Mode. This can be quite helpful to get the hang of the places that you just can't get past. You can also opt to play with other people. They can sometimes help carry you through, so that you can get used to those really difficult songs.


Game Mechanics:

Guitar Hero: Metallica plays just like the previous versions. If you have never played before, I recommend playing through the Tutorials under Career to learn what you're doing. The Tutorials are more fun than you would think.

One thing to note that is different on the Wii than the other systems is the "feedback" that you get on the guitars. Since the Wii-Mote has the capability to play sounds and it is inserted into the guitar to make the guitar work, they can use those speakers to make noises when you play a wrong note. If you miss a note or play the wrong note, you will get a sound that sounds like a broken string coming from your guitar. While this does make it feel more real, it can be very annoying at times. It does make a really good incentive to not miss notes though! It's much more obvious to everyone around when you mess up than it would be when you're playing on the PS3 or 360.

While I haven't played every Guitar Hero out there, I have played at least half of them. I have to say that Guitar Hero: Metallica is by far my favorite version. Granted, I am a huge Metallica fan, but that's not the only reason I liked it so much. Over 20 of the songs are from other bands. I was really impressed with not only the selection of Metallica songs, but also the choices of other songs on there. They covered a wide range of music making this a very robust game. I highly recommend picking it up if you enjoy any music game at all. It is well worth every penny!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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