Nestled in the top 10 of Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos, it was no surprise when Metallica’s “One” slipped onto the set list of Guitar Hero 3 and quickly became a fan favourite. After that, it was only a matter of time before we got more hardcore, finger-bleeding guitar action. Thankfully, Guitar Hero: Metallica improves on the mediocre Aerosmith installation and shows how good a band-centric game can be.
With Aerosmith, fans got the classic Guitar Hero with no added perks, and a setlist free of the power ballads that keep them in the ‘biz. With Guitar Hero: Metallica, all bases are covered and then amped up – whether you’re a fan of the old, the mainstream breakout ‘90s, or all that came after. The whole band is along for this ride this time, grabbing the World Tour template and allowing fans to sing, strum, and drum over 30 Metallica songs — all of which translate well to this format, making them a blast to play.
Players kick off the game by creating a band name and logo, and soon are opening for the epic band. Unlike the older versions of Guitar Hero, however, this installment will let you get to the end without getting stuck on that one dastardly song. Instead of needing to finish sets, you simply collect stars to move forward and unlock more tunes – an effective way to avoid the songs you have no interest in playing without stalling the game.
Guitar Hero: Metallica works best with the newer World Tour guitars that offer the touch-sensitive slider on the neck, but any old controller will work – you just pretend the keys are your slider and tap away whenever the notes go translucent. But the best perks come in the drum world. Those who can wield drumsticks like a pro – you can drum just like Lars Ulrich by picking up a second pedal and dipping into Expert Plus. However, even gamers who are sadly percussion-impaired can have their fun with Drum Over, which allows you to play percussion any way you want.
Really, this is a game that has everyone in mind – at least, everyone who likes a dose of Metallica. There’s a bunch of extras like behind-the-scenes footage of the band getting motion-captured for the game, lyrics, pop-up trivia, plus a structure that is inviting to all levels of play, whether you’re the struggling beginner or a seasoned player bored with the ease of earlier releases. And, best of all, you don’t have to unlock everything for indulging in Quick Play – it’s all right there from the get-go, so you’re saved the pain of rushing to unlock good songs for your demanding group of friends.
But the dedication to the player only extends as far as the disc. DLC is limited to the band’s new release, Death Magnetic. You can’t use your Metallica dudes to play all that you’ve gathered for World Tour, and with that, my hopes of having James Hetfield belt out Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl (DLC on World Tour) are dashed.
While this is an annoying and unnecessary wrench in the game, ultimately, Guitar Hero: Metallica still provides enough goodies for fans. If you like or love Metallica, there’s no reason not to get this game, but obviously, this isn’t a release for the non-fans.