Thursday, November 08, 2007

Guitar Hero III Update

I made it to to tier eight on Hard without too much difficulty--I failed the Slipknot song in tier seven a couple of times, but otherwise it went pretty smoothly.

Then I hit "Raining Blood."

This song is a great example of what's wrong with this game compared to Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II. The reason it's so tremendously difficult (even on Hard) is that there's a very fast section early in the song made up of a slew of three-note sequences--orange, blue, yellow, and blue, yellow, red (I think that's right)--with a few chords thrown in.

In other Guitar Hero games, and even on other songs in this game, it's a hammer-on/pull-off sequence. But to artificially ramp up the difficulty, it's broken up into individual three-note segments, which means you have to strum every fourth note. It's incredibly difficult to play that way, and I think I failed four times before I quite in disgust--not at the difficulty, but by the way the difficulty had been artificially introduced.

Now it could be that I'm wrong about how that segment should be "correctly" charted. That's entirely possible. But I've noticed in other songs that nearly-identical sequences--in the same song--are HO/PO in one place and strummed in another. It's just not coherent.

I did pass the other songs in that tier on the first try, although I was flashing red on "One" in the long solo near the end. But it's incredible how many notes you get credit for playing correctly in long HO/PO sequences just by mashing buttons as fast as you can. In Guitar Hero I and II, that strategy is guaranteed to be FTL within seconds.

"One" is a spectacular song, though, and I don't mean for the note chart. It's based on a book titled Johnny Got His Gun, which is a gut-wrenching book on war that was published in 1939 (you can see the Wikipedia entry here). The very last section of the book derails into an angry, overt diatribe, but the rest is incredibly moving and incredibly powerful--I still remember it as one of the most emotionally affecting books I ever read. So the first time I saw the music video for the song, which made it clear that the book had been Metallica's inspiration, I was totally blown away. And the song does an amazing job of capturing the rage and helplessness of the book.

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