Guitar Hero III (2007)

Capturing the spirit of Rock n’ Roll w/ groundbreaking performance simulation, strong plotting, impeccable visuals + mocap/CGI wizardry, legendary cameos, & a brilliant (genre-diverse) soundtrack for unparalleled rockstar experience. 9.5/10.

Plot Synopsis: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is a music rhythm game, the third main installment in the Guitar Hero series, and the fourth title overall. The game was published by Activision and distributed by RedOctane.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review: Forgive me as my fingers hurt from binging this game for the past 12+ hours (and constantly) fretting, but the latest Guitar Hero is nothing short of a masterpiece of music games. Breathtakingly capturing the spirit of Rock n’ Roll with a groundbreaking performance simulation and stunning visuals, textures, and set design for its era, I would argue GHIII is the greatest music-related game ever made – an impressive accomplishment considering its legacy revitalizing rock music for a brand new generation that didn’t grow up with it and virally starting a franchise race between GH, (the inferior) Rock Band, and a swarm of other forgotten ones lasting years.

Activision’s smash hit wows from the second you pop in the disc and instant authenticity of feel and craftsmanship assaults your eyes with a psychadelic, red/blue chiaroscuro anime-like rock sequence of a guitarist ascending up the mountain of rock stardom, conquering demons, and even having a solo battle with the Zeus-like God of Rock. Fast-forward to the opening artwork, phenomenal customization options in iconic GH characters and guitar choices, cheeky loading screen humour, and into gameplay and an absolutely brilliant array of curated genre-diverse rock hits are delivered.

Spanning the full gamut of the rock experience, the soundtrack encapsulates the sounds of everything from the heavy metal trills of Metallica and Rob Zombie to the beautiful, emotional guitar ballads of Cliffs of Dover and Pearl Jam to the punk stylings of Sex Pistols and Sonic Youth to classic rock like KISS and The Who to indie/jazzy airations like Santana’s Black Magic Woman and The Smashing Pumpkins’ Cherub Rock; too much to recount but absolutely stunning in diversity and beauty musically. You truly get the feel this was fan-made by rock junkies who love the game and these bands as much as you do.

The storyline is impressive as well in its religious undertones and subject matter taking you on tour just as expertly crafted in plotting as the setlists and location settings (from Kaiju megadomes to backwoods Tennessee bars to desert Burning Man-like smoky stages) are. And of course, the gameplay is absolute perfection as well, redesigning and revamping the Guitar Hero system to be crisp, easier on the eyes, and precisely syncopated over its series brethren (becomes *extremely* crucial in every milliseconds’ notes once you get to the mind-melting solos late in the game).

The difficulty is also amped up with user-friendly options for beginners, but a cascading difficulty increase as gameplay progresses for real fans on expert ending on an absolutely *bludgeoning* final boss battle/setlist that took me (and many others judging from forums) months to even YEARS to beat (looking at you Mosh 1 on Slayer’s Raining Blood. Impossible). Finally, the spiced up the formula with other brilliant innovations as well like the inclusion of LEGENDARY rock cameos like Slash (favorite guitarist ever!), Tom Morello, Sex Pistols, and Bret Michaels as themselves and even excitingly offering to guitar-battle you in what ultimately becomes the most fun part of the game and a nice change of pace from just doing covers the whole time (and makes for one of the most thrilling final boss battles I can remember in a long time).

The only possible flaws I can think of would’ve been maybe adding more customization options in outfits/guitars, create-a-sim, and a more foldable guitar controller since carrying it around can be a *pain*. But these are extremely minor gripes in what is otherwise an absolutely brilliant guitar game that’s possibly the greatest musically-related video game.

Overall, GHIII is the definitive rockstar experience – even somehow one-upping previous gauntlet-holder GHII. Capturing the spirit of Rock n’ Roll w/ groundbreaking performance simulation, strong plotting, impeccable visuals + mocap/CGI wizardry, legendary cameos, & a brilliant (genre-diverse) soundtrack, I have never played a music simulation game like it. Rock on, Activision.

Official CLC Score: 9.5/10