Guitar Hero: Metallica

Metal has never been this cool. Lightning-riding from its epic slow-mo powerchord opening to emotional ballads, indie design, resemblances, & CAP system, GHM, although lacking in narrative, captures its iconic band’s spirit & feel. 8.5/10.

Guitar Hero: Metallica is a music rhythm game developed by Neversoft, published by Activision and distributed by RedOctane. The game was released in North America on the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 on March 29, 2009 and on PlayStation 2 on April 14, 2009, with an Australian and European release in May 2009

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review: Bm-Gmaj7-Bm-Gmaj7-Bm-D/A-Gmaj7.. The iconic chord progression from ‘One’ lingers after having just finished GH’s newest cyclone experience: Metallica. One of the most iconic, and arguably biggest, heavy/thrash metal band of All-Time, this was certainly a huge undertaking for the music game giant, albeit one they handled and executed with crisp craftsmanship, stark attention to detail in production value, and immaculate care & love bringing to life. From its electrifying (quite literally) slow-mo power chord opening into ‘For Whom The Bells Toll’ that stands as one of the most stunning and epic openings ever in a music game, to the chaos in riffs and strumming in Master of Puppets admist red hellish airfields and emotional heartbreaking melodies in One in Black and White, Activision managed to capture the essence, spirit, and tone of Metallica damn-near perfectly in this sweeping head-bang of an experience. The visuals are strong with spot-on resemblances of the band, good location settings/stage design, indie load screens in inked Asian-like dark cartoons, and a continuation of GHIII’s amazing anime-like cartoon narrative style. Adding to the mix is a CAP (Create-A-Player) customization option that’s FINALLY what we’ve been asking for letting you customize every aspect of your avatar down to tattoos, eye color, and guitars – which was extremely enjoyable and hours-taking. The guest list, although I was mixed on at first due to its breadth and somewhat-pushing when I came for Metallica, grows on you as it goes on with at least-similar metal icons cameoing like Slayer, Motorhead, and Megadeth while being mostly skippable if wanted and occasionally providing a nice break/palate-cleanser from never-ending dark metal. The gameplay is near-perfect re-using GHIII’s perfected strumming and guitar simulation system with the same kept difficulty and challenge, albeit with a few hiccups in switching from fretting to strum-fretting trying to update it with the new technology available. The only real problems with GH: Metallica then are replaying songs (not even really the game’s fault but a situational annoyance) and lack of a band narrative. Replaying songs due to being tripped up on an ultra-difficult solo or strum pattern gets to be a *real* pain due to Metallica’s bizarre/head-scratching vice of way-overdoing their song’s length being 2x, 3x, and even 4x regular song-lengths at times and usually with a harrowingly-difficult guitar solo at the end. This is not an indictment on Metallica’s (still great) music or even really Guitar Hero’s fault since it’s the way the songs they’re just computerizing were just (ill-advisedly) first recorded, but it gets to be even dissuading not wanting to have to get 11:36.5 seconds into a 12-minute song and be hit by a mind-melting solo you could fail and have to start over – many times I found myself having to save star power until the end out of this fear instead of being able to use it freely and for the most epic parts of the song like the chorus, which admittedly sucks a bit out of the experience since star power is one of the best parts. Besides that pseudo-flaw, a clear and sizable one is the lack of a definitive band narrative explaining the band’s history/upcoming. I don’t understand why GH/Activision/Metallic decided not to do this or keep it a secret – if you’re going to have a game documenting the experience of the band, it would help if we got insight into the band besides just playing songs at different locations (although the icy creature-infested final boss stage is awesome). The stages are not even ascending or storytelling (besides their album covers) like GH: Aerosmith’s at least showing some of their upbringing that way, in what turns out to be a disappointing oversight on the game-makers part and missing piece of the puzzle for a full picture. Even with its star-power and band narrative-lacking though, GH: Metallica is still a GREAT music game with the same strong signature GH guitar simulation gameplay, strong visuals and design, spot-on resemblances, CAP-customization, and the energy, feel, and tone of Metallica and their music down perfectly. Keep the show going, GH.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10