by Phil Kehres
Guitar Hero: Metallica (rated T for teen, available on Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3)
Release date: March 31, 2009.
Guitar Hero: Metallica is an absolute must have for die-hard Metallica fans who own a game console. Speaking as one of those die-hard fans, there is simply no gaming experience that compares to cranking up the TV and shredding away on a classic ‘tallica tune. It’s a fun experience for casual Guitar Hero fans, too, but probably not worth buying unless you’re enough of a fan to know what you’re getting into.
Guitar Hero: Metallica plays like pretty much any other Guitar Hero game, which is to say frustrating and difficult at times but generally tons of fun. I won’t get too much into the nitty gritty of the game play here, as it’s par for the course. Like Guitar Hero: World Tour, it features full band play, the only real difference being the addition of an optional double bass pedal and “expert+” mode for drumming. What it comes down to is the music, and the music is fantastic — if you’re a Metallica fan. From Kill ‘Em All to Death Magnetic* (which is available as a download and is automatically playable if you had previously downloaded it for Guitar Hero 3 or Guitar Hero: World Tour), every one of Metallica’s albums is represented, and every one of them is an absolute blast to play. Also included are tracks from more than twenty other artists who have influenced or been influenced by Metallica, including Motörhead, the Foo Fighters, Bob Seger and Alice in Chains. The non-Metallica tracks are a nice addition, but not a major selling point by any means. There’s the requisite career mode, but there’s nothing there that’s out of the ordinary. Many of the features from Guitar Hero: World Tour have been carried over, including the ability to “quick play” a setlist of up to six songs. But really, it’s all about the rip-roaring, face-melting, double bass-pounding, thrashtastic metal.
On top of the music, however, the presentation is much better than I expected for a game focused on just one band. Menus feature artwork from album covers, and many of the band’s iconic concert venues are included as stages, including Tushino Airfield in Moscow, site of the band’s legendary concert played in the midst of the collapse of the Soviet Union . The game designers nailed the band’s signatures, from Robert Trujillo’s helicopter spin to James Hetfield’s menacing facial expressions and hand gestures. The graphics and presentation are better than any Guitar Hero game to date. There are also tons of extras, including a mode that allows you to watch the virtual band play a song of your choosing while facts about the song scroll on the bottom of the screen. A lot of work was put into making this game a true Metallica experience. This is thanks in no small part, I’m sure, to the heavy involvement of the band itself in the game’s creation. It is truly a game for Metallica fans by Metallica fans.
So what does all that mean for the casual gamer? Bottom line — buy this game if you love Metallica, no excuses. If you’re not a fan, play it at a friend’s house and pray to be converted, because you’re missing out.
Final verdict: 4/5
(Phil Kehres also is the co-author of Excuse Me, Is This Your Blog?)
*For a full review of Death Magnetic, please go here.
(Promotional screenshot of Guitar Hero: Metallica provided by Activision. To see a trailer for Guitar Hero: Metallica, please check below.)
Guitar Hero: Metallica
video game review
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by Phil Kehres