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Guitar Hero: Metallica


VGbeat score:
8 out of 10

Positives:
  • good setlist
  • challenging songs
  • expert+ difficulty for drums
Negatives:
  • same interface issues from GH:WT
  • poor matchmaking
Guitar Hero: Metallica marks Activision's second foray into band-specific games. Much like how last year's Guitar Hero: Aerosmith built off of Guitar Hero III, Guitar Hero: Metallica uses Guitar Hero: World Tour as a base from which to build off of. The game shares some of the strengths and weaknesses of GH:WT, but a strong tracklist results in a fun game for those who like a challenge.

Soundtrack

The game features 49 songs - 28 from Metallica, and 21 from "guest acts." These guest acts consist of artists Metallica has worked with, covered, or inspired, and includes artists such as Queen, Kyuss, Foo Fighters, and Slayer. The tracks from Metallica span their entire career, from Kill 'Em All to Death Magnetic. In addition to these songs, Lemmy from Motörhead and King Diamond from Mercyful Fate appear as playable characters for their songs that appear in the game.

All of these tracks present a challenge that is tougher than previous GH games. While things start fairly simply with The Unforgiven, the difficulty ramps up considerably so this game is not for the faint of heart, at least when playing on expert. None of the songs I played felt "overcharted" - The notes matched the song pretty well and I actually had fun playing through most of them.

If you've bought DLC for GH:WT, you won't be able to play it in this game, with the exception of Metallica's full Death Magnetic album. The game features GHTunes, though, so you can still download MIDI renditions of the Super Mario Bros. theme.

Gameplay

For the most part, the gameplay is identical to that of Guitar Hero: World Tour, so you can read our review of that to get an idea of the basic gameplay, since there has only been a few small changes. Vocals are now graded per-phrase (like in Rock Band) as Average/Solid/Awesome, but there is no gauge while you sing so it can be difficult to figure out why one phrase is graded as Awesome while another is graded as Solid and breaks your streak.

For drums, an entire new difficulty has been added - "Expert +" - which does not apply to all songs. On a good number of them, though, all of the double bass hits have been accurately charted, so if you have a splitter and a second bass pedal (or only one pedal and you want your leg to fall off) you can play some of the toughest drum charts there are.

Presentation

World Tour's multiple-setlist-based progression is gone, and the old one-at-a-time setlist is back for this one. However, unlocking new tiers is different; rather than completing an entire tier to unlock the next, you only need to collect a certain amount of stars to unlock new venues. Because the final venue only requires 72 stars, this basically means that you can "beat" the game having only played a third of the songs, even on expert. This does mean, however, that if you only want to play Metallica songs you can essentially skip nearly all of the songs from other artists and still progress through the game just fine.

Unlike Aerosmith's game, you actually get to start out this game playing Metallica songs - when you start your career you're treated to a short cutscene of the band walking on stage to The Ecstacy of Gold and you're then dropped right into For Whom The Bell Tolls without having to pick anything from a setlist. It's a very cool start to the game, though the rest of the it features forgettable animated cutscenes (in the same style used since GH3).

Character animations for the game - especially for all of the members of Metallica - are very impressive. Each song has unique animations and cameras, but the downside is that the animations and camera angles are identical each playthrough, so once you've seen one you won't be getting anything different. If you just want to watch the animations, however, there are now "Metallifacts" that you can play after beating a song. These are essentially Pop-Up Video facts about the song that show up while the animation plays in the background. However, while I was watching one there were apparently not enough facts to display and they actually started repeating about 2/3 of the way through the song.

The character creator, instrument creator, and multiplayer modes are essentially unchanged from World Tour. The multiplayer interface has been tweaked to be slightly easier to follow (individual rock meters are now next to each track) but it still suffers from the same matchmaking issues.

Conclusion

Guitar Hero: Metallica is a fine entry to the series and may come as a pleasant surprise to those who have become disillusioned with recent GH releases. The setlist is solid and the difficulty is high for those looking for a challenge. If you're a fan of Metallica this game is worth a buy, and even if you're not it's a solid rental.

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