Monday, November 05, 2007

Guitar Hero III Impressions (360)

Obviously, I have poor impulse control.

Plus, I missed out on participating in this game, if that makes any sense. Lots and lots of you guys were playing, sending me all kinds of feedback (both positive and negative), and I wanted to find out for myself.

I'm playing on Hard and I'm in the sixth set now (song #32, I think). I've 4-starred or 5-starred most of the songs. I haven't played anything on Expert yet.

My impressions are pretty straightforward, because I think it's obvious what's good and what isn't.

On top of the "what's good" list is the guitar. It looks great, it feels great, and there are zero problems in terms of responsiveness. A few people are having problems with their controller, but mine has been just fine. I do find that the shape of the guitar actually causes it to rub on my right forearm a bit--at least, the way that I play it does.

Also on the good list: graphics are very sharp and very clean. Some of the venues are very clever. And at least a few of the note charts ("Same Old Song and Dance", "Welcome to the Jungle", and "Black Magic Woman", in particular) are positively inspired.

On the "what's not good" list, I'd start with the WTF decision involving hammer-ons/pull-offs. Three or four-note sequences will frequently have two HO/PO notes, a note to strum, and then another HO/PO. It's positively bizarre, and it totally breaks up the flow of the game. There are all kinds of little oddities like that in terms of where the HO/PO are placed. In GH II, I could just look at a note chart and identify 90% of the areas where there would be HO/PO, just by the note structure. In this game, I have absolutely no clue. That makes it significantly less fun, because every song becomes a special case. The best feeling I get from the Guitar Hero games always involves HO/PO (Jessica in GH II is an absolute masterpiece), and in this game, the composition of the note charts really dilutes that feeling.

Also, quite a few of the note charts (at least on Hard) are just bland. Not bad, just not terribly interesting to play.

Then there are the Boss battles, which are, in a word, shit. Creating a special, optional mode where you could battle five or six guitar players would have been at least midly interesting, but dropping it into the main game was a horrible idea. The whole point of Guitar Hero is that it's skill-based. The boss battles are almost 100% gimmick, and they're zero fun to play.

Do the boss battles ruin the game? Only while you're playing them, and fortunately, they're rare. They even ask if you want to skip past after you've failed one enough times in a row.

I mentioned a few things that bothered me in the demo a few days ago, but I don't even notice some of them anymore. The size of the meters, for one--it's very jarring at first, but I stopped noticing the difference pretty quickly. I still hate the "plunk" sound when you miss a note, though.

Overall, I think this game is being rated fairly by reviewers. I would have given Guitar Hero II a 95 on a 1-100 scale, and I'd give Guitar Hero III an 85. If my impressions change substantially as I play through the rest of Hard, I'll let you know.

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