So I went to my local GameStop last night just before midnight to pick up my reserved copy of Guitar Hero III, Legends of Rock, for the Wii. This, by the way, is the first and only version for the Wii console, which is the only console I have, so I was very excited to finally get to play guitar!
When I pulled up to the store, nobody was there except one sales clerk, who was busy playing the demo game of, yes, you guess it, Guitar Hero III, but on the XBox 360. I won’t hold that against him. He stopped to help me make the transaction. I had already put down my 5 bucks to reserve it months ago, then also turned in a popular game a couple of months ago for 40 bucks credit, then took in 6 of our old Gamecube games to trade in for the difference. It worked out perfectly. So I basically got Guitar Hero II, with guitar controller, for the Wii, for about 5 bucks. Granted, we are no longer with the other titles, but we hardly touched them anyway, so it’s all worth it.
I got home and plugged in and cranked up the volume and realized how rusty I am at this game. I had only played it once, but for about 6 hours straight, when I was last in Hawaii (Mahalos, Corey!) I was able to get my bearings in about 30 minutes and then I switched from easy mode to Medium and proceeded to play the story mode. By the way, the Wii version requires you to embed the Wii remote into the guitar itself like in the inset picture here. Very interesting, and one reason the package was 10 bucks less than all of the other consoles.
One of the coolest features of this new version is that I had to battle (yes, a guitar battle) Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine to get to the third level. We had to trade off licks and try to mess each other up by shooting over power-ups that make playing even more difficult than it already is! Tom was not very difficult to beat, but later on, I had to go up against Slash, as in Guns n Roses and Velvet Revolver. Slash actually plays on this game (as did Tom Morello) and the playing is absolutely brilliant. It’s prefect for a guitar battle. I quickly learned that I was no match for Slash and repeatedly lost to him. After a while I broke down and read the manual (sigh) and realized that I should be timing my “shooting” of power ups over to Slash more strategically. Once I figured that out, I was able to beat him fairly easily. After beating Tom Morello, I got to play a song with him, Bulls on Parade (RATM) and after beating Slash, he joined me for Welcome to the Jungle (GnR). Very cool.
The songs on this edition are really fun to play and vary widely over the guitar-shredding spectrum. From Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot to Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast (I jumped up and down when I saw this one on the list! and yes, it is super fun!) There’s even Pearl Jam’s Evenflow, Heart’s Barracuda, and very special treats like Metallica’s One (yes, the entire thing) and Living Colour’s Cult of Personality! (I was totally head banging to this one, so much that I royally messed up my part, but didn’t seem to care!)
The final battle was with the devil himself (sort of, it was Lou Reed) playing The Devil Went Down to Georgia, side by side with the devil. Don’t make any mistakes or he owns your soul! I did manage to beat him and the entire game was beaten…but only on medium level. Try playing a few songs on Hard. The gap between Medium and Hard is great, and the gap between Hard and Expert even greater, so there is still much guitar playing to be had for sure. But at least now the songs are unlocked and we can choose to play which ever at whatever level we want.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the Wii version comes with online play mode. I played bass on Cult of Personality with some stranger named Wick. I also played more later on with others, but this is a VERY cool feature for this game. You don’t have to worry about not being good enough because you get to choose your skill level individually and you can choose battle or the friendlier co-op mode where you simply play bass and guitar, the two of you. It does not allow you to see anything about the other person, nor does it allow you to chat or anything, so it is safe for kids to play pretty much anyone online. The other thing that surprised me was that the entire catalog was open for playing online even though I had not beaten the game yet, to unlock the songs for my own game.
There are also songs and other accessories to buy at the store (pretend money earned from playing, not real money here). You can buy new characters/players, guitars, outfits and a bunch of songs that I have never heard of. Perhaps this is the indie label way to get exposure for bands or lesser known songs…offer them up as bonus songs on Guitar Hero?
The entire family except mommy has had a turn at the game. Sarah is showing the most promise so far. She already beat Tom Morello and is very happy to be rocking out. I expect to have tons of fun with this game for many months, hopefully years, to come.