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Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Photo: Activision Inc.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Watching the Guitar Hero franchise hit the skids earlier this year with the downright awful Guitar Hero Rocks the ’80s was akin to seeing your favorite band open for Deborah Gibson at Foxwoods. But Guitar Hero III, quite miraculously, delivers. The new wireless controller is built with an amazing amount of craftsmanship. Modeled after the iconic Gibson Les Paul ax, this one features a removable neck (presumably to make the guitar portable), and fret buttons that won’t start gumming up after three days.

The game is structured like previous entries, with tiers of increasingly difficult set lists to conquer, each followed by an “encore” song. One welcome change: the “boss” battles that now punctuate the game. Every few levels, you’re challenged to a kind of “shred-off,” with the goal being to make your rival screw up the song before he reaches the end by “attacking” him with string-busting power-ups (challengers include Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Guns N’ Roses’ Slash).

A GH game is obviously only as good as its track list, and GH III’s is far and away the best in the series. While the aces are rolled out a little too early—why the game doesn’t end with the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” is a head-scratcher—the songs (yes, even the covers), consistently satisfy and surprise. Unfortunately, plenty of less-than-subtle product placements have been shoehorned in: Equipment tie-ins made sense in the earlier games, but unlocking the Axe Body Spray guitar? Way to make us feel like sellouts, Activision.

Written by Scott Jones
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