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Guitar Hero: Metallica
By: Scrooge McSuck

- I don't think I've kept it to be much of a secret, but for the longest time, like Dance Dance Revolution, I never "got" the appeal of these Guitar Hero/Rock Band games. I mean, the novelty of playing air guitar is fine and all, but people obsessing over them? Come on, I love video games as much as the next guy, but damn. Recently I picked up the old GH III and guitar bundleat Wal-Mart for $50, and thought it was fun, but a little boring with the incredibly random track list. For every Welcome to the Jungle, you've got... Hit Me With Your Best Shot? Ew... but then Guitar Hero: Metallica came out.

I love Metallica. I love everything Metallica has ever done, sans St. Anger. That was just bad. But from Kill 'em All through Death Magnetic and everything (but St. Anger) in between, I love it. My MP3 player currently has at least 30 Metallica tracks on it, with more to be included probably. My wallpaper for my cellphone is the classic Metallica logo. My favorite t-shirt is the Master of Puppets album cover. And right now, my favorite game to play is GH: Metallica.

Gameplay: For those living under rocks, the point of Guitar Hero is to strum a plastic guitar and press the coresponding fret buttons in sync with the symbols on the screen, with minimal errors. Difficulty ranges from Beginner (a retarded monkey could finish songs) to Expert (fucked!), so no matter what your gamer skills are, you'll be able to play. Most songs on this track list are metal songs with sweet ass guitar solos. Who hasn't air guitared to the solo for Metallica's "One" or "Master of Puppets"? That's pretty much the whole game in a nut-shell though, although you can do band mode with bass guitar, drums, and a microphone for vocals. WiFi Connection is possible as well, for those like me with no real friends anymore.

Graphics: It's the Wii, but the graphics are greatly improved from the earlier versions, definitely. Still, that doesn't make them "great". The animtated images of the Metallica band members look pretty good as their current appearences, as do any hidden "guest" rockers. But the original creation characters just look really lame in comparison. The different venues look pretty good, most of them reeking of Metallica, two specifically being stages replicating the ...And Justice For All and Master of Puppets album covers. The crowds look pretty generic, but who really pays attention to that in these games?

Sound: For a game of this genre, you'd have to be pretty damn good to make it worth purchasing, and of course, it sounds like a guiar playing game should sound. Crank up the volume on your television and you can rock on for hours without ever realizing this is a video game. A few tracks from some guest stars like Motorhead's Ace of Spades is a re-recorded version, so Lemmy sounds as incoherent as possible, as you would imagine. All the Metallica stuff look is pretty good sounding, including No Leaf Clover, which includes the background orchestra for the performance.

Controls: Well, this is a hard category to judge for this game. Your primary controls are the 5 fret buttons (green, red, yellow, blue, orange) and your rock meter. Depending on your difficulty setting, you'll use anywhere between 3 to all 5 fret buttons (easy - 3, medium - 4, hard and expert all 5), so it takes practice getting used to sliding your hands up and down to get the right buttons. Activating rock power is a chore, though, as you can either press the "-" button somehow during gameplay, or thrust the controls like you're loading a shotgun or something. More often than not, that method will force you to hit a sour note, but that's probably because I have monster hands. Overall, controls are pretty good, but have minor issues.

Difficulty: This is the great thing about these games, the fact anyone can play them. Personally, playing anything on easy is a waste of time. Medium is a nice enjoyable setting if you're just playing for fun. Hard is when things get a little tough at times, especially for the guitar solos. On expert, forget about it. I've yet to complete a song on expert, let alone master the controls for them. Even when playing online with others, you all don't have to play on the same difficulty, incase others out there are bigger geeks than you are (I always play medium, personally, so kiss my ass!).

Extra Features: Among generic stuff like unlocking all the lame videos progressing the "career mode", this game has some pretty fun stuff. There's a tidbit section for every song, where you can read interesting things while listening to the song performed by the games characters. Unlockable videos include live performances of Orion and digitial animation shoots featuring Metallica in tight spandez strumming fake guitars and banging faker drums. You can also purchase older appearences for each member of Metallica featured. (Note: past members such as the late-Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are not included out of respect for their legacy and for new-ish member Robert Trujillo).

Anything Else I Can Think Of... : Because this is mostly a Metallica track list, I'd like to note that the following albums are well represented: Master of Puppets (7 tracks), The Black Album (Editor's Note: aka: "Smell the Glove")(5 tracks), Ride the Lightning and Death Magnetic (4 tracks each), and Kill 'em All (3 tracks). St. Anger has only one representative in "Fuel". Load and ReLoad are both only represented by one song, as is S&M, but to be fair, only two original songs were written for that album. Metallica's version of Mercyful Hate (from Garage Inc.) is also included, and is the longest track in the game, a little over 11:00 long.

Final Thoughts: Like I've mentioned earlier in the review, I really don't find these games that good, normally, but in this case, I'm willing to flip-flop on the matter. I enjoy the track list so much I sometimes forget I'm playing a video game. While I'm not high on most of the 21 other tracks from various artists, the 28 Metallica songs included is more than enough for me to say awesome. I give this game the strongest recommendation for Metallica fans, but overall, if Guitar Hero is your thing, then have at it. If you're not, then walk away, because it's just the same thing every other Guitar Hero game is, and it's never going to change.