It is more of the same, but it is enough
The success that Guitar Hero has enjoyed over the last year has brought the rhythm gaming to the forefront of the industry. So when news spread that when original Guitar Hero developer Harmonix had parted ways with Activision in favour of developing Rock Band, no doubt there were many who may have been sweating at the possible demise of the much beloved franchise. But never fear for Neversoft is here and has provided us with a follow up that stays true to the original formula. There are also some noteworthy additions to the franchise that fall on both sides of the coin, but in the end it is Guitar Hero and that is all the faithful wanted.
For those who have yet to be swept up in this rocking sensation, Guitar Hero 3 is a rhythm game where players are charged with picking up a guitar shaped controller that has five coloured fret buttons and a strum bar. Players then use the guitar to play in time with the coloured notes scrolling vertically down the screen which is all synced to a music track. Even though this is the third installment in the Guitar Hero franchises, newcomers aren't left out in the cold. There is a learning curve involved but going through the game's tutorials will introduce those players to all the need to know and set them on the way to fame and fortune. There are four difficulty levels included in the game, the easiest difficulty setting is a guaranteed recommended starting point for beginners as it is never to taxing for players and when finished, players should be confident in attempting the songs at the next difficulty level. But it is at the higher difficulty levels where Guitar Hero 3 runs into some hurdles, as there is a major gap present upon completing medium difficulty and attempting some of the songs on hard. You see the interesting decision taken here is that Neversoft decided to come at the harder difficulty settings with veteran Guitar Hero players in mind. This is a good thing especially if you have played Guitar Hero 2 to death, as it presents an insanely new level challenge for you to conquer. Newcomers though may feel overwhelmed and at this point it is easy to recommend that these players go back to Guitar Hero 2 and attempt the hard difficulty there as it definitely fills the gap present here in Guitar Hero 3. Overall Neversoft has definitely done their best in accommodating for newcomers and veterans alike and there is plenty here for both groups to enjoy.
Guitar Hero 3's presentation hasn't changed that much in this iteration. There is the return of the career mode which has you complete set lists and earn money to unlock the abundant amount of extra content available. In addition to the career mode is these little animated clips which show you rise to fame as you complete set lists. It is not too sure whether these clips where an attempt to add a story to the career mode or even an attempt at creating a unique personality for the game. Whilst there is nothing bad about them, they don't pull of anything, so they are just there. In addition to the career mode are boss battles which pit you up against a guitar legend. These have you earn power-ups in place of earning star power which grants you attacks to cast upon the guitar legend that you are up against and your main objective is to make them fail. It is an interesting idea but it lacks polish and none of these battles are fun to attempt. The reason being is when you complete these boss battles, there is the same sense of reward completing them as there is completing any other song in the set list, so it ends up not adding anything to the experience. The set list present in Guitar Hero 3 is one of the best available. There is just about anything and everything you can think of. From Santana to The Killers no one is left out. In the end the career is all you want it to be and has an abundant amount of content to conquer over all difficulty levels and will have many going for months to come.
The Guitar Hero 3 multiplayer remains pretty much untouched. There is the Co-op, face off and pro face off modes that make their way over from GH2 untouched, but there is also the bland introduction to the battle mode made infamous in the career mode. All these modes are available for play offline, but one of the exciting new additions to the GH franchise for the 360 is the ability to play online as well. All the online modes work really well as there is no latency issue present despite it being a very big challenge to overcome. Neversoft have done an amazing job to make it work and to make it very enjoyable. The battle mode introduction into the multiplayer component of GH3 is very unbalanced. Most matches will end within a couple of minutes, due to the fact that usually the first person to land an attack comes out on top as it is a daunting task for the other player to come back from. Despite this there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had with remaining modes as they play just as well as their predecessors do. So if you find it hard to get people over or have trouble finding people that have the same skill as you, then the online mode is a welcome addition and adds a tremendous amount of value to the experience.
Guitar Hero 3 comes available for purchase as a standalone game as well as a bundle with a wireless Gibson Les Paul shaped guitar controller. Although considering that Australia never had the ability to buy another guitar separately for the 360 the bundle is worth the purchase even if you not looking for that second guitar. The guitar controller bundle here is superior to the controller bundled with GH2. The fret buttons are slightly angled making hammer-ons and pull-offs easier to execute, the whammy bar performs a lot better, it is easier to store and its wireless. Overall the guitar controller makes for a more robust and accessible experience as there are no strings attached.
Neversoft has enabled many to sleep safely as it does appear that the franchise is in good hands. That is not to say that they didn't attempt to add their own flavor to the franchise, but for the most part GH3 stays true to the strengths of its predecessors. And with the welcome additions of online play and future download content, Guitar Hero 3 packs in a tremendous amount of value and makes it a very worthy entrant into the franchise. And that is all we wanted.