With Guitar Hero: Metallica the axe-shredding series returns to the stage with a rock solid entry that should please rhythm game players, while also giving Metallica fans plenty of fist-pumping content.
Guitar Hero: Metallica - Another Encore
Last year, Activision's unstoppable axe-grinding sim took its first crack at a band-centric entry with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, a title many criticised for feeling a bit like a cobbled together cash-in that neither paid proper tribute to the Boston-based rockers or offer fans much of an upgrade over Guitar Hero III.
With their latest one-band effort, Guitar Hero: Metallica, developer Neversoft has gotten their act together - so to to speak - and unleashed one of the franchise's best entries to date.
First and foremost, Guitar Hero: Metallica is an amazing fan-pleasing nod to one of rock's most influential bands. The set-list busts out tunes spanning Metallica's entire career; from their earlier edgier stuff all the way to their more recent and mainstream-accessible work, the line-up could easily resemble a best-of list cataloged in a fan's iPod. So, from "Battery" to "No Leaf Clover", you should be able to rattle your living room walls with at least a few personal faves.
Guitar Hero: Metallica - Fan-pleasing package
It's not just the song selection that sets this one apart from the head-banging pack, though, as Guitar Hero: Metallica does the best job yet of bringing a real-life band to the virtual stage to date; thanks to some amazing mo-cap tech and close collaboration with the band, James, Lars, Kirk and Robert look and animate like the real-deal, totally ditching the goofy character designs that made Steven Tyler look even more cartoonish than he does in real life in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.
The fan service continues to get cranked up to 11 with unlockable content that's actually worth checking out; behind-the-scenes videos, lyrics, fan-shoots from some of the group's more intimate gigs, and a pop-up mode offering tidbits on the band that'll rock your brain as hard as your soul.
Guitar Hero: Metallica - Pedal(s) to the metal
On top of all the Metalli-goodies, gamers can expect the tried-and-true GH gameplay to complement the whole experience. Online and local modes will be pretty familiar to anyone who fancies themselves a Guitar Hero: World Tour living room legend, but a few new improvements, such as a star-rating system - which allows you to progress without having to beat every single track - keep the formula feeling fresh.
Even cooler is the new "expert plus" mode, offering percussion enthusiasts a bass-blasting challenge that'll give their musical timing and feet an equal workout; utilizing a second foot pedal to keep time with the thumping bass puts players behind the sticks like Lars, himself.
This challenging, yet super-satisfying addition is reflective of the faux rock god status you'll enjoy on most of the tracks - including those of Metallica-hand-picked artists such as Foo Fighters and Queen - as Metallica's varied catalogue lends itself so well to the rhythm game genre.
That said, this entry is more challenging than previous Guitar Hero efforts, so newcomers should hone their plastic guitar-playing skills on World Tour before braving this one. Once you've learned to shred with the big boys, though, feel free to stage-dive into one of Guitar Hero's best encores yet.