This week, Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As the legendary metal band’s members — Lars, James, Kirk, and Robert — stepped up on stage to shred, they knew that they were true Guitar Heroes. How appropriate, then, that the quartet just received their very own Guitar Hero game.
Guitar Hero Metallica is Neversoft’s second band-specific Guitar Hero outing, though it’s the first to allow the whole band to play, a la Guitar Hero World Tour. With only one minor addition to the drum kit, the core gameplay has remained virtually identical since that recent iteration. That, however, is not a problem when the gameplay is already a blast.
Metal has always been the hardest genre to play in music games, and that’s no exception here. The 49 songs are an absolute blast to play on guitar, with scorching solos that will burn your hands and melt friends’ faces. The drums, meanwhile, are decent, but don’t match up. The three main pads on the drum set are large and satisfying to smash and the cymbals are acceptable, but the bass pedals feel a bit flimsy, making challenging songs more arduous than fun. Yes, you read that correctly: Guitar Hero Metallica supports two bass pedals, and even contains an ‘Expert+’ difficulty to complement that functionality. It’s a nice addition, but only pertains to the hardest of the hardcore. We thought we were pretty good, but the Expert+ mode had us chucking our drumsticks at the television after a few minutes.
The set-list, which is slightly lacking in quantity, is stock-full of quality picks. The 28 Metallica songs contain all the greats, while delving a bit into Metallica’s back-catalogue. There certainly aren’t as many glaring omissions as there were in Guitar Hero Aerosmith. Expect to tear through Enter Sandman, Master of Puppets, For Whom the Bell Tolls, One, Fade to Black and many more on your way to rock glory (for which there’s some sort of superficial context). Along the way, there are 21 supplementary songs, or “guest acts,” to play. The bands, personally selected by Metallica, span from Lynyrd Skynyrd (Tuesdays Gone) and Thin Lizzy (The Boys Are Back in Town) to Mastodon (Blood And Thunder) and Slayer (Mother of Mercy). There might not be something for your five year-old niece, but there’s a solid range of hard rock on offer.
Given the past few Guitar Hero games, it appears that the ‘main entries’ will add new gameplay elements, while the band-specific games will focus on extras and presentation. Literally every mode included in World Tour is present here, from online modes to GH Tunes (cluttered with Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy songs as always). Given the similarity between the two games, it’s a disappointment that you can’t offload the songs on the Metallica disc to your hard drive for use in World Tour, and that World Tour downloadable content can’t be played on GH Metallica – certainly not the end of the world, but it would have been nice.
It’s the style that really shines here. The visuals — arenas, character models, pyrotechnics and all — are stunning, and due to extensive motion capture, the band’s movements are incredibly fluid. This is all complemented by an array of creative camera angles and effects that make each song feel like a music video, not just background material. Throw in some behind the scenes footage and “Metallifacts” trivia to complement each song, and you’ve got the most polished Guitar Hero yet.
Ultimately, Guitar Hero Metallica doesn’t dazzle with loads of new features, but it has a refined style and enough quality Metallicontent to feel fresh. If you’re a Metallica fan, there’s no question to ponder: get this game. Even if you think Metallica is just alright, you should still check out Guitar Hero Metallica. To conclude, we respond to Guitar Hero’s classic success screen: “No, you rock!”