Are you Ready to Rock?
Simply put, Guitar Hero: Metallica is not going to be for everyone. You may love the Guitar Hero series but unless you are a fan of Metallica’s music, this game is not going to be for you. You may also love Metallica but unless you are a fan of the basic Guitar Hero gameplay, you are not going to like this. If, however, you happen to love both Guitar Hero and Metallica, this game will rock your world.
Guitar Hero: Metallica is the best Guitar Hero game Neversoft has made since Guitar Hero III. The game continues the full band approach laid out in Guitar Hero: World Tour, yet unlike World Tour, progression through the career mode is no longer based on clearing gigs of mismatched songs. Instead, players unlock new songs and venues by gaining stars, and early on you will unlock a good portion of the set list to be played at your choosing. One of my biggest complaints with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was the fact that you had to play other band’s songs before getting to the Aerosmith material. No offense to Cheap Trick, as they are a great band, but if I pick up Guitar Hero: Aerosmith I expect to be able to play some Aerosmith from the start. Guitar Hero: Metallica gets right to the heavy metal, as it should.
Making the List
Upon entering career mode you are thrust into playing as Metallica, complete with startlingly accurate avatars of each of the current band members. You will start off playing “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Unforgiven” and then with your appetite whet, the game asks you to create your own avatar and gives you a list of non-Metallica songs to play. You only have to play a few to unlock the next Metallica-themed venue that features (guess what?) more Metallica songs. While the game hardly ever forces you to play anything but Metallica, the star total actively encourages you to do so. The fact that the other songs are all originals and were chosen by Metallica itself makes them much easier to enjoy.
As with any set list, players are going to have their favorites that they return to over and over, but the real draw is the 28 Metallica songs that span its entire Hall of Fame career. Chances are that your favorite Metallica song has been included, as the tracks picked really are the closest the band has come to having a greatest hits compilation. However, equally likely are the chances that you can probably name a handful of songs that you would have liked to see in the game (for me it is Bleeding Me, Holier Than Thou, The Call of the Ktulu and The Unforgiven II) but even so, you will be hard pressed to argue with the set list.
Band Based Gameplay
Another reason the set list is so hard to argue with is that Metallica’s music is just a natural fit to the gameplay of the Guitar Hero series, especially now with the band based gameplay. Each instrument is given equal billing, so regardless of whether you are a traditional guitar hero, a bass player, a vocalist or a drummer, you will find something fun and challenging to do in Guitar Hero: Metallica. If you have played Guitar Hero: World Tour, the gameplay and interface of Guitar Hero: Metallica is going to be extremely familiar. There are some minor changes, including the addition of a star meter to tell you how many stars you have attained thus far, but for the most part it is set up exactly like World Tour.
Likewise, the gameplay is pretty much the same. For guitarists, bassists, and drummers, circular notes stream down the screen and you must hit them at the correct time. For vocalists the concept is pretty standard fare for singing in games: sing the lyrics in pitch to score points and multipliers. The difficulty is pretty well balanced and if you can complete the entire game on a lower difficulty, it is time to move up a level. Yes, the songs are slightly more complex, but Neversoft did a great job of balancing everything. It should be noted that expert drummers can increase their difficulty with a new Expert + mode that enables a double bass pedal, which requires both a second pedal and a splitter (sold separately). This mode really is only for the best of the best though, and “normal” players are never going to take advantage of this mode.
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