I just spent a few hours giving the brand new Guitar Hero: Metallica (GHM) a test drive and I can confidently make two conclusions:
- It’s fun
- It’s hard as hell
Let’s be clear, if you don’t like Guitar Hero or Metallica, this game is not for you.
Learning from the deficiencies of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (which was still a good game), GHM starts off on career mode with two killer Metallica classics, For Whom the Bell Tolls & The Unforgivien.
I honestly can’t think of a better opening track for this game than For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’m not ashamed to admit that I got really into playing that song.
At the end of each song, the standard “You Rock” screen features the fist from the cover of St. Anger (2003) in a fun animation. I think that the cover of St. Anger is the only cool part of the whole album, so thumbs up on using it well.
The graphics and character models are far superior to anything we have seen in previous music games. The band’s movements and facial expressions are spot on thanks to some great motion capture and rendering work.
The sound quality is also out of this world on most of the tracks. I love the mixes in this game.
It also has some amazing songs.
From the Metallica library:
For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Unforgivien, Fade to Black, Battery, Creeping Death, Disposable Heroes, Enter Sandman, Fuel, Hit the Lights, Master of Puppets, Nothing Else Matters, No Leaf Clover, One, Orion, Sad But True, Seek & Destroy, Welcome Home (Sanatarium), Wherever I May Roam, and Whiplash are all incredible songs.
GHM also includes a number of other songs from bands that either inspired or were inspired by Metallica. Some of the ones that really stand out to me are:
Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back in Town, Mastodon’s Blood and Thunder, Queen’s Stone Cold Crazy, and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Tuesday’s Gone (which always reminds me of the movie Happy Gilmore).
As I mentioned from the beginning, this game is tough. Far harder than any other Guitar Hero or Rock Band game that has preceded it – It is the nature of the source material. Metal is fast and intricate. The difficulty is refreshing as there must be countless Guitar Hero fans who can breeze through 90% of the songs on expert without putting in much effort (That’s how I felt playing Guitar Hero World Tour). The guitar parts in GHM are rediculous, especially the Kirk Hammett shred solos – I love playing shred solos in Guitar Hero!
If the guitar is difficult, the drums are %&^*ing insane! I feel like playing with the second kick pedal that is required for Expert +mode would be fun if I was coordinated enough to do it.
The Not So Good
Almost no downloadable content. The only downloadable content that works or will work for GHM is the Death Magnetic (2008) album. It’s nice, but that album is not their best work.
I also feel like there were some classic songs that really should be in the game:
Looking at the tracks that were selected from Metallica’s first album Kill ’em All, they only included songs that are credited to living and current members of the band. This leaves out classics like The Four Horsemen and Cliff Burton’s elongated bass solo (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth.
Other songs that are conspicuously missing are: Ride the Lightning, The Call of Ktulu (like The Four Horsemen, writing credit goes to Dave Mustaine of Megadeth), …And Justice for All, Bleeding Me, and Hero of the Day (I love the version from S&M). The absence of these songs isn’t a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but they are sorely missed (Especially The Call of Ktulu & (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth).
I have one final gripe about gameplay.
In Guitar Hero World Tour, the feature of holding lower notes while playing higher notes was introduced. I’m not crazy about all of the applications of this feature. For instance, on the song Nothing Else Matters, the opening riff is a series of open notes. Playing it on a real guitar is a no brainer. Playing it in Guitar Hero, while not difficult, isn’t very easy. A similar problem arrises in the opening riff of Fade to Black. The riff is a heck of a lot harder to play in Guitar Hero than it is on guitar because of this awkward game feature that doesn’t feel necessary or make much sense. I recognize that Guitar Hero and playing guitar have very little to do with one another, but the feature itself just doesn’t make sense to me.
This is a good game. Not perfect… but how many games are?
If you like Guitar Hero and Metallica – Buy it.
If you like Guitar Hero but find the previous installments too easy – Buy it.
… and when you play, play it loud.