Building off the success of all previous Guitar Heroes, Guitar Hero Metallica is by far the hardest rocking of them all.
Any Metallica fan can explain that Metallica is more than just heavy music: it is an experience that really cannot be described. In order to capture this experience as genuinely as possible, the developers went all out by adding motion capture, lip syncing, body and facial scans, and even the lighting and atmosphere of a Metallica show. This game really makes you feel like you are a playing the band’s music through stellar presentation.
Lars Ulrich is considered one of the greatest drummers of all time and for the first time in Guitar Hero history, gamers can now recreate the Lars experience through the use of a double bass petal. Found in the Expert + difficulty setting, drummers can now double bass their way through each song. Yes this is hard as hell, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. The open bass notes, found on Hard and Expert modes, really add to the overall challenge of the game as well.
Death Magnetic, Metallica’s downloadable album, is fully compatible with this game too. As a side note, this is the only DLC that is compatible with Guitar Hero Metallica so your World Tour DLC will remain exclusive to that game.
A few new features really separate Metallica from World Tour. With great welcome, the new HUD keeps tracks of individual performances so you know who is rocking out and who is sucking it up. The Career mode is a lot more straightforward now too. Instead of playing an entire setlist like in World Tour, the player now has the option to play as many songs as desired. This makes it easy if gamers are pressed for time and can only hammer out one song per session. Also, many tracks are unlocked quickly which opens up a lot more options. Even the pause feature received a simple, but very thoughtful, enhancement. When you pause the game, then unpause, the screen freezes and gives the player a few seconds to mentally prepare before the game turns back on. Very handy.
When the career first starts, the player is immediately thrown into Metallica’s shoes. After playing a few tunes, the player then creates a custom a band that basically follows the Metallica footprint. As you advance, video snippets, lyrics, and other extras become unlocked. All unlockables are really a great compliment to the Metallica fans of the world and are definitely a welcomed feature. And just like the other Guitar Hero games, it is possible to link your progression of the game through the Guitar Hero website for further stat tracking.
As far as the actually gameplay, everyone should know what to expect: hit the notes as the fly down the screen. All the tutorials should get any player up to speed no matter what your game skill level is too. Keep in mind, however, that Metallica has made a name for themselves by writing the music that they did. Just about every song is several minutes long and contains some of the craziest and awesomest guitar riffs and solos ever, meaning, this game definitely has a ramped up difficulty factor. Being the Metallica fan that I am, I don’t look as the game’s difficulty as a negative, but I rather encourage it. Playing Metallica music is like running a grueling marathon, so when a song is completed on a higher difficulty setting, a great sense of accomplishment will wave over the player. Again, this only enhances the entire Metallica experience.
Just like Guitar Hero Aerosmith, other bands have made it into the final product. Alice in Chains, Motorhead, the Sword, and Judas Priest are just some examples of other groups that have inspired, or have been inspired by Metallica. Unlike Guitar Hero Aerosmith, where many songs were either unknown or just plain not preferred, there really isn’t a bad track on this disc. There might be one or two “not favorite songs” from other bands, but they are definitely tolerable and still fit the theme. This really only completes the Metallica package and makes the overall game presentation and setlist truly shine.
I only have a few minor gripes with this game. First, there are many unlockable videos in this game. After you beat a song, the player might unlock some behind-the-scenes video with the band in their motion-capture suit or from a concert on the other side of the world. Unfortunately, there is no option to pause, fast-forward, rewind, etc. You just hit play and let it ride. Since each video can be many minutes long, having the ability to control the speed of the video would have been welcomed. Secondly, there are no guitar straps in this game. This just looks strange. How does each character hold their guitars…magical Velcro? Also, there are many unlockable outfits to play dress-up with, but there are no options to change the color of the clothes. Basically, your blue jeans will always be default blue and your cargo shorts will always be green. Having a pallet swapper could have added another small amount of personalization to the game. Finally, the game supports custom made avatars, but you can only play as them when the corresponding gamer is signed into their account. This means that guests will be forced to play as a default Guitar Hero character. Additionally, Rock Band controllers are not compatible with this game.
If you are a fan of Metallica, you must play this game, no question about it. This game is also a great way for younger games to gain some insight about the full Metallica experience and history in one simple DVD. With more polish than the Aerosmith version and better designed gameplay tweaks over World Tour, Guitar Hero Metallica really is one of the best, if not the best, Guitar Hero to date. Fans have been begging for a Guitar Hero game like this ever since it was released on PS2 years ago. Not that the other games didn’t generate that rock star feel, but this Metallica version truly ups the ante. Guitar Hero fan or non Guitar Hero fan, you really should play, or rather, experience this game.