Tech: Guitar Hero III
It's strange to think how popular the "Guitar Hero" video game series has become, seemingly overnight (the first game was released only two years ago). While "Guitar Hero" certainly wasn't the first guitar rhythm game (GuitarFreaks came along way before), it was the one that channeled the latent desire to be a rock star and melded it with controls that the casual gamer could get his or her hands on.
"Guitar Hero III" is something of a departure for the series. You see, the original developers of GH have gone on to develop "Rock Band," a competing game that ups the ante by including drum, bass, and vocal accompaniment to songs. GHIII was made by Neversoft (yes, the "Tony Hawk" guys), so it's not like there's a huge drop in production values or programming competency.
The set list, by almost anyone's measure, is fantastic - classic songs like "Paint it Black" and "Welcome to the Jungle" all the way up to newer fare from bands like The Killers and AFI. Whether you like speedy, thrashy nu-metal, grungy post-rock, or guitar-y pop, you'll have plenty to like here, though the later songs almost invariably tend toward heavy metal (the guitar solos, by their very nature, are just more difficult in stuff from Slayer or Slipknot than from Heart).
There are some problems, mostly caused by a lack of new features. By and large, this is the same "Guitar Hero" experience as the past two games, but with harder songs, more forgiving note timing, and wireless guitars. And while "Rock Band" already has some incredible downloadable content in the works (the entire album "Who's Next" will be up for download), GHIII's plans are much murkier.
Here's one track - Slayer's "Raining Blood," so named because your fingers will be bleeding after getting through this one on Expert mode:
The Wii version is the first chance Nintendo loyalists have had to participate in the Star Power, chord-infested madness that is "Guitar Hero." The Wiimote plugs in snugly into the guitar, providing neat sound effects and force feedback. There's also fairly decent online play via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection service. A huge minus, however, is that the Wii version won't have downloadable songs unless Nintendo cooks up some miracle (in the form of a hard drive).