Guitar Hero Metallica Wii Review

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So it’s been nearly a year since the release of the first band specific Guitar Hero, in Aerosmith. Activision has looked to rock gods Metallica to provide the inspiration for the second. Unlike the Aerosmith release, Guitar Hero Metallica features the full band experience as seen in Neversoft’s last effort, Guitar Hero World Tour. Guitar, bass, drums and vocals are all part of the mix.

The set list is a reasonable 50+ songs with around 60 percent of the tracks being Metallica masters. The other 40 are distributed around bands that have played with or influenced Metallica. The track list is for the most part great and from the moment the game starts with the epic “For whom the bell tolls” it’s obvious a lot of thought and consideration has been given to giving the game a Metallica attitude. The extras keep coming and there is a lot of fan service on show with lyric sheets, multimedia extras and facts about the band. While the track list is not as large as the yearly update, the tracks are of a much higher quality.

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Guitar Hero Metallica returns to the tier system of gameplay seen in Guitar Hero 3. Although it’s disappointing they have chose to revert back, it is now a much more forgiving way of playing than in the past. Instead of being required to complete each song in order to progress, now only stars (from song star ratings) need to be collected to unlock new songs.

This way of playing may upset some of the more hardcore fans, but once complete there are plenty or reasons to go back to finish all the tracks. Many extras are rewarded for completing songs, from unlocking signature guitars to unlocking band members as playable characters for the non-Metallica tracks.

In terms of new gameplay mechanics there are very few. Guitar, bass and vocals follow the same path laid out by Guitar Hero World Tour. There is one noteworthy addition though – an Expert+ difficulty setting is introduced to drummers. This mode gives you the real deal as far as kicks are concerned, so if you can do it and keep up with the dual bass pedals you may as well replace Lars in the real band.

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Even with the inclusion of Expert+ the game is not as punishing as some of the previous Guitar Hero titles. Note charting is decent, not quite up to Rock Band 2 standard, but certainly an improvement over previous games. Guitar Hero Metallica is still not an easy game and is not quite as easy to pick up as some earlier titles like World Tour due to there being no easy slow songs. That being said it does not feel unfair and with a little practice any song (with the exception of Slayer’s “War Ensemble”) seems manageable.

A little perseverance is most certainly worthwhile as the tracks are as good as any Guitar Hero release and could easily be called Metallica greatest hits if this were an audio CD. Metallica pulls titles like “Whiplash” from Kill ‘em All, all the way up to “Cyanide” from Death Magnetic via classics such as “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” , “Master of Puppets” and “One”. Fan service is also played with the other bands that appear an inspired example being the inclusion of Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” along with the Guitar Hero debut for Queen.

An unexpected extra the Wii version has is an extra 3 tracks from Death Magnetic. This is because only the PS3 and Xbox 360 will get the Death Magnetic DLC. While it’s nice to have as an extra, these are tacked on the end of the set list with no real explanation why.

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Graphically, Guitar Hero Metallica is a real surprise on Wii. Unlike some previous efforts such as Guitar Hero 3 or Aerosmith, Budcat has done a very solid conversion with crisp clear graphics and nice solid animation work. Sure, it’s not as crisp and clear as the PS3 or Xbox 360 versions, but it’s a nice surprise to see the effort going in to make it as good as it can be. The only problem I could find was that in the extras section of the game; reading lyrics and looking at other extras the display is pretty blurry and could have really benefited from a zoom mode.

Guitar Hero Metallica is a high quality game with a high production value, and the songs are very well chosen and play well. The extras are excellent although slightly spoilt due to the low resolution of the Wii. The attention given to the band and the fans is there, and it’s enough to justify the price. If Activision had found a way to allow importation in to Guitar Hero World Tour a la Rock Band AC/DC, or at minimum allowed Death Magnetic DLC to work on the Wii version, it would have been exceptional. As it stands this is an excellent addition to the franchise. For Guitar Hero fans the price may outweigh the tracks on offer, but this is a must buy for fans of Metallica.

8/10

by

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Version tested: Wii

Also available on: Wii, Xbox 360, PS3

Developer: Neversoft/Budcat

Publisher: Activision

Genre: Rhythm

Players: 1-4