Guitar Hero III Preview
If there's one series that exploded onto the scene with one of the biggest bangs in recent memory, it's Guitar Hero. It only gained steam over time, as it rapidly became a multiplayer and party favorite, and it didn't even seem to matter if those playing were actually guitar fans. Some initially shied away from the idea of playing with a guitar controller, but most soon lost any semblance of bias and succumbed to the addictive gameplay. The third installment in the series will be available for all three next-gen consoles, and it's gonna feature a ton of upgrades and enhancements, too. If you loved the first two entries in the series, you've got this one on your must-have list for 2007, and we're going to provide you with some crucial info and details. Yes, Guitar Hero III will definitely rock.
First off, because these games are so heavily grounded in multiplayer entertainment, we'll start with the evolvement of cooperative play. This time around, it's going to have an entire career mode, and online play - of course - will be included. That's right, we said a Career Mode for Co-op, which apparently means two players can jam together and go straight through the game together. When's the last time you played through a rhythm/music game co-op, actually following a set of missions or even a storyline? You've never done that, plain and simple. Furthermore, Neversoft is planning to include a hot new Battle Mode, which is exactly what it sounds like: take the riffs your opponent can throw at you, and attempt to equal them. It's kinda like a Rival mode, if you really think about it, and it's pure rock ‘n roll.
It seems this Battle mode will be a primary staple of the new Guitar Hero, too. The concept appears simple on surface, but there's a whole lot more depth than you might believe. First of all, you won't be dealing with Star power in this mode; you've got to match every "star note," which in turn gives you the equivalent of a musical power-up. These power-ups can be used to "attack" your opponent, you can store up to three at any given time, and they're activated the same way as Star power. In this way, there seems to be a lot more strategy involved in Battle, which should satisfy avid fans of the series. If you're wondering what kind of "attacks" you might see in a music-based game, you should just use your imagination...or, we could just tell you about a few.
The power-ups are cool. There's "Difficulty Up," for example, which means your opponent will be forced to play on a higher level of difficulty for a short time (if you're both playing on Expert, this power-up doesn't do anything). Along the same lines is "Double Notes," which is just what it sounds like: the dude - or dudette - standing next to you will have to play twice as many notes as normal. Another interesting one is "Amp Overload," which causes the scrolling notes to blur and shake; the disruption is destined to give your opponent fits. The trick will be saving these power-ups for use at crucial times during the battle, and that could likely be the key to victory. You'll probably be able to see what your opponent is hording over there, though, so perhaps you'd be able to prepare yourself for "attack."
Other "attacks" include the "Broken String" (bust a string, and you have to rapidly tap that string's button to "fix" it), "Whammy Bar" (get the Whammy Bar up ASAP or you won't be playing), "Steal Power" (duh), and "Lefty Flip" (you'll have to either transcribe the music or flip the guitar around and play left-handed). Victory is secured when one person bows out, but if both of you reach the end successfully, you'll immediately enter into a sudden death mode. Neversoft will have to ensure good balance in this nifty Battle Mode, though, so as to avoid constant sudden deaths or spiking difficulty for certain songs. We're also hoping the more devastating "attacks" are a bit more rare; if your opponent keeps nailing you with "Lefty Flip" over and over, that could prove problematic. And very unfair, we might add.
But we have faith in the developers for Battle Mode. And we can't wait to hear more about this Career Co-op mode. The other mainstays of the franchise should make their return as well, and the soundtrack should be as robust as ever. At this point, Neversoft has released a partial track list of 13 total songs, which looks like this:
- Paint It Black, The Rolling Stones
- Cherub Rock, Smashing Pumpkins
- Sabotage, Beastie Boys
- The Metal, Tenacious D
- My Name is Jonas, Weezer
- Knights of Cydonia, Muse
- Rock And Roll All Nite, Kiss
- School's Out, Alice Cooper
- Slow Ride, Fog Hat
- Cult of Personality, Living Colour
- Barracuda, Heart
- Lay Down, Priestess
- Evenflow, Pearl Jam
As you can see, the goal is to provide the player with a wide variety of classic and modern rock songs, and any list that ranges from the Beastie Boys and Heart to Smashing Pumpkins and Alice Cooper already boasts a healthy amount of rock diversity. We'd also like to assume that every song on the list will be playable in all game modes, from basic single-player to that awesome Battle Mode. And in the end, it appears Guitar Hero III might be in direct competition with Rock Band, which is being created by former Guitar Hero developer, Harmonix. Rock Band will feature multiple peripherals, but Guitar Hero has a firmly established legion of fans. Besides, with all the major enhancements and upgrades in the third installment, we seriously doubt it'll have any trouble selling.
At this time, Guitar Hero III is tentatively scheduled for November of this year, and it'd be a great title to have for the 2007 holiday season. We'll let you know when they nail down a release date, and update you with any more details as soon as they become available. Let's hope to see the full track list soon!
6/1/2007 Ben Dutka