PS2 Review: Guitar Hero III - Legends Of Rock

By Tim Beringer 2008-01-14 21:25:12 discussion comments
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Players:1-2
Price:$49.99-$89.99
Platform(s):PS2
Developer:Neversoft/Budcat Creations
Publisher:Activision
ESRB:Teen
Website:Unleash Your Inner Rock Legend
Rating:



A few years ago my friend was dating this wonderful woman. She was beautiful, smart, funny and just a pleasure to be around. So when he fixed me up on a date with her little sister I was excited. The date came and went and somehow it didnít live up to expectations. Iím not sure what I minded more, the faint lisp from her hair lip or the stubble burn I got when she kissed me good night, but the experience was a failure. Thatís what it felt like playing Guitar Hero III.

It took me a longer time than most to let myself get addicted to these games, but when I finally succumbed to Guitar Hero II it was bliss and I had to play anything with the same name. The Guitar Hero series is amazing fun. The graphics have always been simple, yet appropriately entertaining. The game play is insanely addictive; on easy and medium itís simple enough for anyone to pick up and play. On any difficulty after that it becomes an art-form to keep up with the wild riffs and ripping solos that are not for beginners. It looked like Guitar Hero couldnít fail. Then the series lost Harmonix to Rock Band. With that death chord, everything previously mentioned that made Guitar Hero great was gone.

Neversoft, with Budcat Creations, come in to replace Harmonix for the PS2 release of this title. Itís fairly evident that Neversoft didnít think much when putting this game together. The in-game animations are so ugly itís distracting most of the time, and when they arenít ugly theyíre just distracting. For instance, thereís a moment in almost every song when someone stage dives. Well thatíd be great if it wasnít an epic camera pan that canít help but take your eyes off of what youíre doing, and in a rhythm game, thatís not good. Otherwise, graphically speaking, it looked like they spent all of their time working on the playable character animations that, when they finished with the lame Elvis impersonator, they only had an afternoon to program in the rest of the band. Like a train wreck, the poorly animated chin of your lead singer or the sloppy movements of your drummer make it so you just canít look away from them resulting in the game telling you just how much you donít rock.

If only the graphics were awful, that would be one thing, but they arenít. On normal difficulty itís twice as hard as it should be. In some songs hammer on techniques are used arbitrarily and in almost impossible chains. Tempos often donít match the rhythm of the song and as a result, this is the first game where it seems like youíre penalized for knowing the song before you play. The actual rhythm of the song often has no bearing on what you play, one of the worst offenders being ďSunshine of Your LoveĒ by Cream. I eventually had to put Guitar Hero II in to reaffirm that I donít completely and utterly suck at the game and proceeded to get a perfect score on ďThunderhorse.Ē They purposefully made this game more difficult than it needs to be.

To neutralize the insanely imbalanced difficulty itís best to play the game on easy, but then using so few fingers youíre playing Django Hero instead and that gets very boring. On the other end, to counteract the fact that the programmers have no sense of rhythm or tempo it almost makes more sense to play it on hard where what youíre doing matches the songs, but the newly installed difficulty curve reminiscent of passing kidney stones makes it nigh impossible to get anywhere like that. As far as difficulty levels go, thereís no good choice for beginners or anyone who isnít lamely sitting and memorizing the lines.

The introduction of guitar battles was the shining light of this game. Even though the battles were poorly executed with really bad solos hammered out by Slash and Tom Morello, it shows that the series is still coming up with new ideas. Unfortunately Neversoft was thinking less about marketing the game to the already dedicated wide audience and more about their target market of fourteen year old boys who think theyíre bad-ass by throwing up the sign of the beast and rambling incoherently about how cool anarchy is. This resulted in lame characters like the playable Metal Head and Lou the Devil. Anything witty or intelligent about the series has either been replaced or retooled with Neversoftís signature immaturity and mediocrity.

Some of the covers are done very poorly and a select few tracks arenít worthy of being on a set-list with the word ďLegendĒ in it. On top of it thereís a whole bundle of songs that some people arenít able to unlock just because they donít play co-op. Aside from these cases the play list is full of great songs.

Like the rest of the Guitar Hero games, I didnít get to play this one right away, so I got to listen to all the hype while salivating over the prospect of playing. Guitar Hero III is nowhere near worth the hype, nor is it even worth being mentioned in the same breath as its predecessors. I was going to give it three stars when I woke up this morning because at its root it is still a Guitar Hero game, but after playing it a few more hours I canít even justify that.


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