Review / Guitar Hero: Metallica (Xbox 360)

Guitar Hero, that seemingly bottomless well of musical goodness, has done it again with Guitar Hero: Metallica. RedOctane has taken one of the most recognizable names in the music industry and turned them, and their music, into digital versions so we can act out all of our head banging fantasies.

While the basic gameplay of the Guitar Hero series is here in full effect, there seems to be a polish and shine to this installment that is missing from the past versions. For instance, the game utilizes motion capture from all of the actual band members and features their own special touches while on stage, like Trujillo’s helicopter move during bass breaks. Additionally, instead of giving you a generic instrument, RedOctane includes virtual replicas of the band’s instruments throughout the years as unlockable items. Of course, there are the rocker and instrument editors which allow you to design your own creations when you are not rocking out as the band.

Progression through the game is a throw back of sorts to the early Guitar Hero games, as it is star, rather than venue, based. If you cannot nail down the solo on ‘Enter Sandman,’ just two-star it and make those remaining stars with ‘Tuesday’s Gone.’ This leaves alot of playing room with the actual finishing of songs, and is needed if you’re not quite the living reincarnation of Jimmy Hendrix. In essence, you could finish the game and still only have a completion rating of 50%.

Speaking of songs, the set list is nothing short of amazing. All 28 of Metallica’s tracks and the 21 others, hand picked for their face rocking-ness by Metallica, are masters, which means no college cover bands screwing up ‘Toxicity.’ The only complaint here is that the DLC for Guitar Hero World Tour is not transferrable to this game, even though they are done by the same people. Not that big of a fault, but a fault nonetheless.

Gameplay is essentially the same as in all other Guitar Hero games, except for a couple things. First up, the Expert+ mode. This setting basically enables every bass drum note, allowing the player to show off their bass pedal skills in an effort to fully be like Lars behind the drum kit. Lucky for those without bionic feet, Guitar Hero: Metallica supports a second kick pedal attachment, a definite necessity for players trying to ace the game’s highest level. Another addition to gameplay is the Drum Over mode which takes away the required notes, allowing drummers to play any notes they want while still having the same sound based on the song being played.

One of the most impressive additions to the game are the backstage features. In addition to lyrics for each song, every song also has details which are essentially liner notes like you would find in a CD case, telling what album it came from, the authors, credits for the music, and the like. Another behind the scenes feature is Metallifacts, in which the selected song plays with the band on stage, like a music video with facts about the song and/or band overlaid. Metallifacts is, unfortunately, not available for every song which is kind of a bummer as it gave us a bit more drive to complete the song.

The care that was taken with the game is obvious as RedOctane are fans of the band and we had a blast living out our hard rocking fantasies. Yet, at its heart, Guitar Hero: Metallica is a typical Guitar Hero game with a few added features. The bottom line though is that if someone is not a fan of rhythm based games, this will not win them over unless they are a hardcore Metallica fan.

+ Metallifacts are something worth finishing songs for
+ Progression is star based, not venue based
+ Good variety of song selection

– Does not set the bar higher for rhythm games, only pretties it up
– DLC content does not transfer
– Metallifacts not available for every song